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Another liability Q

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by musclecarboy, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. musclecarboy

    musclecarboy 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,303

    You guys state that the contractor is liable for slip-and-falls but is it possible to staet in the contract "If you don't purchase my salt application service, I cannot guarantee your safety on the ground and cannot be held liable for and personal injury resulting from a fall"

    I'd be doing residentials, how does that contract differ from a commercial one?
  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Yes, it's possible but it won't insulate you from liability. It would only be a defense, not that the judge would agree. A lot really depends on your State/Province laws.
  3. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 7,920

    Again a judge will make that determination, if anyone is to be held liable.
    Just because someone falls does not mean you are liable ether.
    But why did they fall.
    Were they trying to get over a berm you left behind?

    If they do not want salt. Having that stated in your contract is a good idea as it will shift the liability back onto the business or property owner.

    My research came up with this,

    Ice is an natural occurrence.
    You did not create it
    Snow and Ice happen you can not be held responsible for nature.

    It is what you do with it that causes the problems.

    You can have a lawyer write up anything you want.
    But as I stated before you can not sign away someones right to sue you if they get hurt. Even if you have a contract that says you are not to be held liable.
  4. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Actually, I'd advise wording such as: "Customer has been offered services of plowing and salting. Customer declines salting of property." And have them sign. Or at least have salting listed as a service on your contract. The customer signs the contract and by having the salting blank or crossed out, it shows that the service was available and declined.

    The defense would be that by declining salting of the property, the customer did not utilize the full range of services made available for a safe environment, even though he was advised by a knowledgeable snow and ice management contractor. That adds up to negligence on the part of the customer and shows that the contractor made every attempt to make the property safe.
  5. cjasonbr

    cjasonbr Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 635

    that's what i do. I have different sections in the initial service contract that explains what everything is, even if people don't want salt - they still can see it's available. For most residential contracts i write an "n/a" over the salt & shoveling sections. Obviously my contract states that a slip-free surface can never be guaranteed yada yada.

    In order for a judge to find a contractor 'liable' for someone slipping and falling: Then that judge must find that the contractor was negligent in performing the contracted duties, and in turn. that negligence contributed toward the injury.

    So pretty much you should keep excellent records of everything you do, so if you ever do wind up in court - you have the records to show you've been doing what you contracted to do, and obviously make sure you and you're employees always do an A+ job.

    People fall over everyday!! I watched some kid walk into a sign post the other day!! (hilarious btw) People are clumsy.
  6. cjasonbr

    cjasonbr Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 635

    Even if someone purchases your 'salt application service' you should never "guarantee" anyone's safety. If you ever got sued you'd lose before you reached the court house.
  7. Duracutter

    Duracutter Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 200

    Ok, first, write in your contract that you won't spread icemelt or roadchip unless customer calls you to request it. Keep good records of weather through season on a daily basis and note if and when you've recommended the service and if they've declined. If they want it, you pepper the living s**** out of the site and they pay good money...payup . That way, you're covered.

    Good daily records are a must!!! I've had many slips, some broken arms, concussion, broken legs and so far no successfull lawsuit. The adjuster has called on me more than once, I've taken out my daily log my office manager keeps and there... my anwers that saved me.

  8. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    Do good work, keep good records, have a good contract and good insurance.

    Then when you do get sued you have a good defense, and someone else to pay the legal bills, and judgement if you lose, but you'll not stop lawsuits.

    JUSTIMAGINE Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    So you don't want the possibility of being sued. The best way is to not do snow removal on commercial properties. You can be sued for just being the company that holds the snowremoval contract, whether there was a treatable event or not someone falls you will most likely get sued not because of fault because of the shotgun practice of lawyers. To defend before trial will be 30-50000. Thats why you have insurance if you have kept great records they will defend you.Several people have mentioned the importance of record keeping and it cannot be stressed enough. It is adviseable to also have a umbrella policy if you own you home or business.
  10. Oasis

    Oasis Senior Member
    Messages: 273

    100% I know that we have the 'not liable for slip and fall' clause in our commercial contracts regardless of whether they pay for salting or not. When it comes to residential clients we do not offer salting services. My clients are told if they leave salt outside we will be happy to throw it down for them but that it is not part of the service nor is it our responsibility.
  11. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    By making the offer you have assumed the liability, it will be on your shoulders to prove that a client did not leave the salt outside. They now can make the statement " I thought because I left the salt outside they would spread it as they offered to do."
  12. Oasis

    Oasis Senior Member
    Messages: 273

    I spoke to our legal advisor who told us that legally if it is not in the written contract it is not a provided service. By me offering to throw it down if they leave it it is there responisbility i have only offered assistance. This is not a legal service and therefore I am not responsible. In addition... Canadian courts do not differ in the fact that ultimately it is up to a judge to decide who is liable and how much impact your codocil in your contract will hold, however, it works in your interest and is a requirement for many insurance companies.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007