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Liability

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Got Snow, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. Got Snow

    Got Snow Senior Member
    Messages: 104

    I'm curious how other contractors' contracts read with respect to liability. I am a small company that deals only with residential accounts. Can or should I have a clause in the contract that states who is responsible for safety issues after a property has been serviced? Does EVERYBODY carry a G.L. policy above and beyond Commercial Auto Insurance? :confused:

    It seems to me if the contract specifically states who is responsible, no need for GL policy.

    Remember, these are residential accounts.
     
  2. Mick

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

    This year I have residential only. In this area, slip and falls on snow and ice are common. Most judges would laugh at a plaintiff saying he fell on the snow/ice and hurt his tushy. However, I would not be without G. L. Yes, you could do a search and get a lot of good information. But it boils down to this. If, after you leave an area, a person is injured on an area where you may (or even may not) have plowed/salted or otherwise were responsible for its condition, you are potentially liable. That includes the resident, a salesperson or a neighbor. Now, if the injury results in a doctor or hospital visit, you will certainly be named by that injured person's lawyer and you could wind up losing everything. This could include an area that you have not gotten to yet.

    Anyone who says "Oh, the homeowner's insurance will cover it" does not know how insurance works.

    Truck insurance (Commercial Vehicle) will only cover things that happen as a direct result of the truck or attached equipment - such as sliding into a car, garage or house.

    You can try to limit liability with "hold-harmless" clauses as much as possible, but they will only LIMIT your liability. By accepting money, you are still holding yourself out as a professional and thier lawyer will use that.
     
  3. mac3897

    mac3897 Member
    from MA
    Messages: 68

    Mick

    It seems that you know alot about this subject.
    I have contacted my auto insruance co and they said they do not have any kind of policy for liabilty. Who else would i go to, to get a policy like this?

    What is the average price as well???

    Thanks
    Mac
     
  4. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

  5. Mick

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

    Best advise would be to get an independent agent who can write for several companies. Also look in the phone book. I use Middlesex Insurance, but they may not be in your area. If you do a "search" using "insurance" as a keyword, you will likely get some ideas. I've heard Eire Insurance is good, again not sure if they're in your area.

    PS: Price - this varies so much by region, equipment, type of accounts and your age that my cost is irrelevant. However, just for an idea - mine is $800/yr for residential only in a low risk area, no claims and 53 years old.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2003
  6. Brother1

    Brother1 Member
    Messages: 59

    A lot of companies are backing out of the GL policy's for snow removal contractors. Our company here in NY (Farm Family) stayed in but our rates went up 40% this year. Seems that the over abundance of lawyers in the world and the sue-happy mentality is the reason. Our agent (and my father who is an agent for another large carrier) have told us that people are suing now for slip trip and fall occurences days after a snowfall. If a lot is cleaned and then u have thawing and re-freeze in areas and someone falls they now are bringing the contractor into the lawsuits along with the property owners and store owners (if they rent a storefront). Our guy said that u almost have to have a truck on a lot 24/7 to make sure conditions are always "safe". We try to limit our liability as much as possible in our contracts but that isn't going to eliminate the lawyers bringing u into the suit and you having to spend your time and $$ to fight it even if you are in the right. I'd say anybody doing snow maintenance without the full insurance is a timebomb just waiting for something to happen. Just watch tv now or listen to the radio about all the personal injury lawyers out there just begging for business.
     
  7. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    I think Brother1 hit the nail on the head. Anyone can you sue for any reason and you still have to defend yourself. As long as their is no cost to the plaintiff for what might be considered frivilous law suits, there will be attorney's lining up to take these cases to the deep pockets. You may not have a deep pocket, but you get named in the suit just like every other Tom, Dick and Harry so that the plaintiff increases their odds of getting the liability to stick in whole or in part to someone.

    Your general liability insurance is what will cover you against these claims. You'll turn a suit over to your insurance company who will in turn defend you and settle if required. It's your job to support your insurance carrier and hopefully demonstrate through good documentation that you have little to no liability. You can't stop the process from occuring... unfortunetly you can get dragged into by just being named. Once you're named in a suit there is a potential for paying out. I'd certainly carry the insurance to avoid paying untold legal fees in defense and unknown settlements.
     
  8. CPSS

    CPSS Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    Got Snow, you really need to contact a lawyer, or at least a good commercial insurance agent. It doesnt matter what your contract says. If someone gets injured on a property you plow or salt, due to the slippery conditions, I guarantee you will be named if the injured decides to sue anyone. Your commercial auto policy will NOT cover you. Even if you are 100% right, and its a stupid greedy suit-hungry person, you will still have to defend yourself in court if you don't have GL insurance. The legal fees alone could be thousands of dollars just to prove that you were right. Even if a judge awarded a few thousand dollars to the injured person, could you pay it?