Contractor’s sneaky strategy for limiting liability

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Q: I have a single-family house that I use as a rental. I'm about to do some major renovation work, and was given a contract by the contractor. It's got a clause in it that I've never seen before, which reads, "For any claims related to this contract or the work that are not covered by contractor's insurance, contractor's total liability is limited to and may not exceed three times the amount owner pays to contractor under this contract." Is this legal? --Debra L.

A: That's a new one on me, too. Perhaps the reason neither of us has seen a contract clause like this before is that it's almost certainly unenforceable.

The clause attempts to limit the liability of the contractor for almost anything that could go wrong on the job or after it's completed, including problems that are solely due to the contractor's shoddy work or carelessness. As it reads, if any such claim exceeds the contractor's insurance coverage, the contractor will...