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Statement Questioned In Contract

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by JUSTBE, Nov 15, 2005.


    JUSTBE Member
    Messages: 52

    I have a paragraph in my contract that states:

    " Contractor" will not be held liable for damage to items beneath the snow including landscaping, plantings, paved or concrete surfaces and/or objects in driveways caused by "Snow Plowing Operations". " Contractor" will exercise due care and caution while performing services so as to avoid damage to "Property Owner’s" property.

    I use this to cover myself against breaking off asphalt and concrete with my blade. However, I have two sites questioning the liability. Am I "off my rocker" with my clause? Should it be phrased differently? I have a 2.5 million umbrella but I don't believe that would cover "beaking asphalt".

    Any help would be greatly appriciated.

    I will include a seperate e-mail address in case someone wants to contact "off-line".
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  2. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    This is the way that I have mine worded regarding this issue.

    "Due to the nature of snow plowing, COMPANY NAME HERE cannot be held responsible for typical/minor damage done to asphalt berms adjacent to plowing areas. COMPANY NAME HERE will not be held responsible for damage caused to driveways, roadways, steps, etc. as well as objects immediately adjacent to the fore mentioned areas, resulting from poor or improper construction, maintenance, previous damage by others, or other such conditions."

    I just explain to people that if we really mess up and do something really stupid we will fix it but that we cant be responsible for "normal snowplow damages" ie. small scratches, gouges, chips etc.......... to berms specially.
  3. I agree with that

    I agree with that, but I DO feel that if you hit a landscaping bush or garden that should be your problem, but scratches, gouges, or small chips on the lot are ususall!
  4. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    While all plow drivers should be familier with the site before the snow falls and be aware of any landscaping issues, I agree that the clause should exclude damage to them from snowplowing activity. Many times there is simply nowhere to put snow except on landscaping because of the way a person has chosen to have the yard done- fact of life. What are we, the plower supposed to do? Replant each spring? I have a similar clause in mine and i tell them the same thing- if I screw up and drive into your garage I'm going to fix it, but scraps to the driveway and lawn damage around the drive edges are not going to be repaired as they are expected wear from snowplowing. I also make sure to explcitly state they are liable for their property or items on the grounds and any third party property or items on the grounds- incase a neighbor's kid dumps a bicycle next to the drive before a snow which gets buried and I place under a snowbank, for example.
  5. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,868

    Looks good to me, I have something like that in mine also.
  6. ??

    so, lets say you hit a bush, or rip up the grass.....do you fix it in the spring!>? cause around here if you don't....bye bye snowplow man
  7. NJ Plowman

    NJ Plowman Senior Member
    Messages: 799

    Our contract says that we are "not responsible for anything" . I don't really know if it will hold up under a lawsuit, but it's in there. :confused:
  8. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    Ripped up grass- nope don't fix it, unless I have dug an 8 foot wide path three feet into your back yard.
    bushes- nope, burried many of them in piles- customers are all verbally warned about those dangers and probability of the damage that will occur when they are given an estimate. If they ask me to be extra careful I try to be, but don;t promise there will be no damage.

    Obviously I try to be careful and not damage landscaping, but it's a fact of plowing snow, and I have yet to have a major issue with a customer over it.
    (oh, if I miss the edge of the drive and tear up a 6 nich wide stip of lawn for a couple feet I put the sod right back down and it's usually fine come spring on it's own)

    I don't know my agreement would hold in court, my lawyer liked it and said I was as well covered by it as I could be. It doesn't have to hold up in court as much as inform and remind customers of what to expect and that they were told. It also get's them in the mindset not to go to court which is all most liability releases are for anyway. In court it shows customer concent, an informed customer, and precidence which, in alot of cases is enough to uphold you since they agreed to it in tht first place.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2005

    JUSTBE Member
    Messages: 52

    Thanks for all of the great reponses.
  10. Ken1zk

    Ken1zk Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    This is whats in my conrtact.

    The contractor will not be responsible for the following: Damage to existing landscaping nor any damages that occur to asphalt or concrete surfaces as a result of our snow plowing services. Contractor assumes no responsibility for vehicles parked illegally or in areas that the contractor has stated to the Customer to be in a location that causes a hazard or impedes performance of our work.

    It's just a CYA statment, but my atty told me it was enough.
  11. drplow

    drplow Senior Member
    Messages: 174

    most customers think its a breeze to scrape huge amounts of snow off your driveway and set it on the lawn that is higher than the driveway with a thousand pound plow setup. i basically tell them that since i ripped up that edge this year, it wont be there to rip up next year.
  12. stumper1620

    stumper1620 Senior Member
    Messages: 222

    here is how mine is worded
    We cannot control or avoid what we cannot see, if there is anything in the area we plow or where we push snow piles, if it is not marked, and we are not informed of what is there, we will not accept responsibility for any damages. Also, concrete and pavement cracking, chipping and scratching cannot be controlled and is a normal effect of winter and plowing.
    Our plow is equipped with skid pads to prevent the plow from digging in, but, can only protect from damage to a certain extent. If there is a raised joint or some other problem COMPANY NAME will not accept responsibility for damages that may occur.
    Gravel usually remains in place after the ground is frozen, until freeze up we set the skid pads high and use salt to try to avoid as much dirt plowing as possible.
    Gravel or grass that is damaged or displaced is the customer’s responsibility to repair or replace. (We try hard to avoid plow damage) Repair of this type problem is included for clients with spring clean up agreements.

    I plowed the same driveway for 2 years, the first year was after a big snow so I never really saw the area without, there was a big brush pile right in an area that was perfect to stack, so thats where I stacked, the next year the brush was gone, so I stacked in the same area, the owner had stuck a little flag in that area that I thought was a stump, as winter went on and the pile grew I started to push the pile up and back, well, that little flag and what I thought was a stump was really a well casing. I didn't hurt anything, but 2 years and I saw this guy almost daily and he never said anything about his well being under that pile. damn near cost him and me a lot of headaches.
  13. golden arches

    golden arches Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    Wow! This is a great example of why you want to walk the lot / driveway before you drop your plow. Know the customer's expectations & he should know your restrictions.

    My contract says: The contractor will not be responsible for the following: Damage to existing landscaping or any damages that occurs to asphalt, concrete surfaces or items hidden under the snow as a result of our snow plowing or de-icing services.

    Will it hold up in court? I asked a lawyer friend to review this after it was written - his $25.00 answer was "who knows". In this litigious society, you are always subject to the whims of the court the day you are there.