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Salting Liability WHY?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Ohiosnow, Jan 15, 2002.

  1. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415

    In 27 yrs. I've never salted but a large lot I do has requested salting. Many of my friends salt & 1 does salting for the lot I plow but they want me to do the whole thing (timing thing with other guy). I said that I would but as with my plowing their is no way I'm responsible for any falling or slipping ect. That my insurance is for me & to damage as me hitting something ect. & no grass or blacktop damage. They agree & will sign a contract, my question is why does most guys here complain about slipping & falling claims against their insurance? As they are the property owners & not us. I'm going to let them tell me how much & when & where they want the salt. That's how the other guy does it now. Right now they use 2000# of salt each time,but when the whole lot is done it takes 4000#. Brent
     
  2. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Here's my understanding. If the liability is not specifically dealt with in the contract, the slip & fall case will be shared between the property owner & the contractor. Your insurance company will negociate with the property owner's and plaintiff's lawyers and a percentage of guilt will be doled out (or if they can't work it out, it can go to court) for you both. So for example they might say the contractor owes 40% & the property owner owes 60% because the property owner didn't specify when the contractor could salt, or it can be the contractor pays the 60% because they didn't apply salt by 7:00AM if specified, (or something similar, there can be many numerous reasons for their decisions). So in the average slip & fall case, the contractor's & property owner's insurance companies make a pay out. Some contracts specify who is responsible for that liability.
     
  3. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415

    OK

    I know that but I ment is why doesn't everyone have that in their contract as mine. Just a thought why would you leave yourself open to a lawsuit? My wife has worked for a large insurance co. for 20 yrs. & does suborgation work for them. I found out the loopholes to keep from being sued. I'm not saying you still can't be sued but it's alot harder to prove that I'm a fault.
     
  4. Sno

    Sno Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    Ohio Snow,

    Just what wording do you use? How is your contract stated?

    Mine is.

    "Owner to provide any necessary liability and property insurance on the above listed properties"...

    Not sure how legal that is, or if it will work.
     
  5. OBRYANMAINT

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    its my opinion that many companies do not want the worry or liability of a slip and fall.......so i take on the reponsibility and charge accordingly and use my expertise from a problem happening

    Would'nt that be one of the biggest reasons someone would salt to begin with?
     
  6. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415

    I to use my expertise to do the best proffesional job but at the same time why would you want to be responsable for something that can't be 100% prevented as slipps & falls.:confused:
     
  7. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    The world is full of klutzes, and the lawyers who love them. There are peole out there who could break a leg tripping over a line drawn on the pavement with a crayon. You've got lots more guts than I....

    I'd be more inclined to think that it's a matter of due diligence-- (hoping that kinda legaleeze term is the correct one in this case). If they "neglect" to have anyone salt at all, and there's an otherwise preventable accident, *they* would be, by definition, "negligent". If they did pay to salt the case is at least easier to defend.

    After this last storm we had two managers (previously "plow only" customers), call and say they wanted salted "at the driver's discretion". Guess what--if I plow I'm darn sure going to use my discretion to salt. Otherwise I'm the one who'll look responsible if there's a slippery condition that allows an accident.

    That's why all the new proposals we sent out this year listed prices for plowing, salting, shovelling, etc, and where the customer wants only plowing the "salting" line states "not requested". We're hoping to refine the language and include it in all the renewals next year, (assuming we don't starve to death in the meantime).
     
  8. OBRYANMAINT

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    you make my point exactly digger, YOU get to make the call as well do i , and then i charge accordingly ....thay PAY me to make the decision and take the responsibility
     
  9. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415

    Obryanmant :

    I still can't follow your logic as to the cost or decision making. AS they want the salt every storm,ice,snow,sleet; as far as 2000# or 4000# depends on half the lot or all the lot. They don't need the far sections of the lot all the time but they are still plowed all the time. Myself I've told them they are asking for trouble not doing the whole thing but that why it's in the contract that it is their choice.;) And as far as money wise 2000# is applied at a cost of $422.00 & 4000# - $800.00 not a bad for 15 or 25 min. of work. :) And I'm still not at fault for slipps & falls.:)
     
  10. OBRYANMAINT

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    well, i would never have this type of conversation with a client, it is not the way i sell the service. As far as amount goes i charge a flat fee to salt the lot, now yes "they" specify which areas, i charge the flat rate no matter how much material is used, the price reflects the most amount needed and this is usually what is applied

    i have no doubt many methods and ideas behind de-icing and ant-icing work well ,with reguards to pricing,applying and liability
     
  11. Mick

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

    I'm as confused about why a person would not have insurance as Ohiosnow is about why you would. I simply could not get some of the business I do without being insured. I had been doing a library free gratis with the understanding that thier insurance company would give me a "hold harmless" agreement. The ins co refused to agree, so it turned into a full pay acct due to the need for me to carry insurance. All other businesses, apartment buildings, etc require that you be insured. If you're holding yourself out as a professional (ie: charging for services), I don't see how you can say you won't be responsible for your work. You wouldn't sign an agreement with the grocery store holding it harmless for slipping on their floor.

    Going along with what digger242j said, I've had several managers tell me they wanted sanding at my discretion. I tell them that I will generally sand every time I plow, for liability reasons. Then they decide they want to tell me when to sand and the liability shifts to them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2002
  12. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415

    Mick

    I'm not sure what you mean as I'm completly insured & bonded but I don't own the property. I've been in Business (Water Pump & Snow plowing) for over 25 yrs. & not a little biz as I gross over 300K a yr., one man shop. My point is don't let them make you libel, you do the BEST PROFESIONAL job possible. Think of it as you worked there as a employee and they tell you to go out & do it, you are not at fault if someone slipps or falls. Their insurance takes care of it ,right? :confused: Slipping & falling is always going to be a problem no matter what you do nothing is a 100% full proof.
     
  13. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    I can't say as I agree with Ohiosnow's reasoning and methods, however if it has worked for him for 27 years - and if it ain't broke, don't try to make him fix it.

    However, I do think that it would be a good experience for him to attend a Symposium and hear some other views from people that have 'been there and done that' with regards to insurance liability and legal issues. Although, it sure sounds like he might not believe them even if it was laid out in black and white.
     
  14. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415

    John

    I'm open to any new ways of doing biz & not closed minded. Been to many biz seminars over the years & have picked up many new things. But I can't see how I would ever want to be liable for slipps & falls.:)
     
  15. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    Yeah, but I'm afraid you missed mine--You are leaving yourself at the mercy of someone who may not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Be as diligent as you possibly can be and the odds are sooner or later someone is *still* going to incur an injury in a parking lot that you've treated. The world is full of careless and stupid people, and lawyers who would have them believe that that's *your* fault--or more importantly, have a jury believe that that's your fault. Personally, I'd like to avoid that risk.

    A good friend gave up a couple of really good accounts (good money and prompt pay) because the owners wanted him to literally sign a document to the effect that he shared liability if there was a slip and fall accident in their lot.

    As far as charging accordingly, it sounds like you're fortunate enough to have customers willing to pay accordingly. Not everyone can find that kind.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2002
  16. OBRYANMAINT

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    i see your point digger, while i do not advertise taking on the liability that is the way that i view it. In my situation i cannot find many who are willing to keep the responsiblity and still pay for my services.
     
  17. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    I may not have made myself clear. I truly don't think anyone should intentionally accept the liability exposure, and most definitely think that shifting the exposure to other parties as much as possible (and usually back to the property owner) is good business..... it's just that it is nowhere's near as easy as you allude to in your posts. I consult to CNA Insurance as well as to a large clientele around the USA, and (from considerable experience) it is not quite as simple as you have stated.

    My point to my last post is that if what you are doing is working for you, then we (myself included) have no business trying to alter your methods and perceptions.

    In other words, I'm on your side even if I don't agree with your reasoning.
     
  18. diginahole

    diginahole Member
    Messages: 63

    Here in Ontario, a winter service contractor’s obligations to society are defined within the Occupiers Liability Act. In this act, “occupier” includes a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of premises. Under this definition a contractor who performs maintenance at some ones property is considered an “occupier” of those premises and has a legal duty to society. Occupiers duty: An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises. I feel reasonably safe to assume that all jurisdictions throughout North America would have similar laws in place to protect society. While it may seem rather easy to word a contract so you can pass off this legal liability, as fellow members of a civilized society I hope you will be relieved to know that this is not the case. The Occupiers Liability Act 5.5.(1): The duty of an occupier under this Act, or the occupier’s liability for breach thereof, shall not be restricted or excluded by any contract to which the person to whom the duty is owed is not a party, …. .

    Now that we realize that we cannot sign away our legal liability we can focus more clearly on our real objective, to have someone else take financial responsibility for the mishaps caused by insufficient maintenance. The easiest way to shift financial responsibility for legal liability is with an insurance policy. Insurance companies will charge a fee to assume your financial responsibility to society. Since future premiums will be affected by the claims placed against this policy it would be wise to also direct the financial responsibility elsewhere. The property owner would be a likely choice.

    As professional contractors is reasonable to assume that we know best which measures are needed to provide safe passage upon the premises in question. Certainly, the property owner has contracted us to provide just that. If the property owner would like to assume the responsibility of dictating the necessary measures, then it would be reasonable for him to also accept financial responsibility for any and all claims of negligence arising from those decisions. Proper wording of our contracts can provide us this protection.

    The property owner will often want the same assurance from the contractor that the contractor will accept financial responsibility for duties that he is liable for. Since we are legally obligated to do so anyway, I think it prudent to allow for such clauses in our contracts, again proper wording being the key.

    I am a contractor, not an lawyer so I don’t feel qualified to share the wording that is used in my contracts and would advise that some preventative legal council would be in order when writing your contracts. I have also found my insurance broker to be a tremendous source of information in this regard.

    Whew, that’s a mouthful….. I’ll climb down off my soap-box now.
     
  19. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    Very well thought out and very well presented, Diginahole.
     
  20. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Yes... well done.