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Who is liable?

Discussion in 'Snow Management Safety & Training' started by Eggie329, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. Eggie329

    Eggie329 Senior Member
    Messages: 123

    I was contacted yesterday to take over a contract for an apartment complex that I had bid on before. The current contractor took a deposit and vanished, now they are screwed coming into this storm later today. I am set to sign the contract later today, but we are in an argument over who is liable for slip and falls. I am only to plow and maintenance will do the salting. They objected to my clause in the contract excusing me from liability since I remove the snow and they finish the job. I told them that I will only accept liability if I salt too because I have no way of guaranteeing that it will get salted. They "promise" that it will get salted, but I insisted I will only be liable for damage or injury from the plowing portion. Who is liable if I have it in the contract that I am only to remove the snow and it is my job to leave the site in safe condition? Even with that in the contract, can they still claim it is my fault if there is a slip and fall? I honestly don't think they have any intentions of salting because they have only walk behind spreaders. This makes me a little worried that they're trying to save a buck and make me take responsibility. I'm thinking I may just steer away from this one.
  2. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    I would, no one can sign away their right to sue. Even if they agree to assume liability for that will cut no ice with a victims lawyer, they get sued, your getting sued too.
  3. Eggie329

    Eggie329 Senior Member
    Messages: 123

    Exactly what I was thinking! I would have no problem getting sued if I had the final say in the quality of the job, but I don't. If they finish, they can take the blame!
  4. dfd9

    dfd9 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,475

    Walk or run away.
  5. Mike NY

    Mike NY Senior Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 102

    To my knowledge, you can be sued for anything under the sun.
    They can only win a suit if they prove negligance.
    If you are not being paid for ice control, it is not your problem.
    Owner is responsible for overall condition of the property. people are to some extent responsible for putting themselves at risk (hey, there is snow on the ground, it might be slippery)
    again, it dosn't mean you can't be named in a suit.
  6. Ben/Insurance

    Ben/Insurance Sponsor
    Messages: 154

    Wow. You can't make this stuff up! I would not want to be your insurance agent in the event of a claim on this one. This is an insurance claim nightmare and one that the lawyers for the insurance companies will have to deal with in the event of a claim. Usually you are either all in or all out. Too many variables in this case. In don't think your GL insurance company would like the scenario either. Good luck.
  7. Laszlo Almasi

    Laszlo Almasi Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    Tell them you'll split the cost of your insurance with them and then you guys can take an equal share in the responsibility.
  8. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,838

    :laughing: I like the idea :laughing:

    To the OP I think your right to stand your ground, I know it's different in the USA cause you can sue for anything, but here you can't. Like MikeNY said They can only win a suit if they prove negligance, but this doesnt mean your insurance wont go up or they drop you if a claim is made. I think you need to talk to your insurance company about this one, hopefully then just PM signing off that they doing salt will be enough to ensure your not liable, but even if your found not liable in the end, you'll prob get drug along for the ride.
  9. Laszlo Almasi

    Laszlo Almasi Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    Keep in mind that here in the US, the biggest reason for naming anyone and everyone in a suit is mostly for the odds that some will opt to settle out of court to avoid a huge leagal bill. If they are willing to accept lets say...$20,000 to settle but it'll cost you $30k in legal bills...most will just pay the $30k and call it a win.
  10. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,562

    Pick your contract up, and leave. This one already stinks bad.
  11. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 380

    I wouldn't touch that one since you're not in control but would likely still be in the loop were there to be a lawsuit.
  12. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,885

    well being we are in NJ, suit capital of the USA, we will not ever in the future, sign a contract in which we assume any liability by means of insurance, unless we handle salt/deicing for the parking lot and sidewalks, and all the plowing measures as well as the stipulation that we call 100% of the services to be performed whenever we feel they are necessary.

    I recently took on a small veterinary clinic.. .now they have the money to pay for top notch services, but they're cheap, hey its a tough economy i understand. We also go there for our vet services for the animals so we know them on a first name basis.

    They went from some joe blow snow plower to our company "with a contract" this year LOL. After the first 5-6 invoices for salting services, $82.00 per service, which is already discounted because we don't salt anywhere commercially for under $100.... they wanted to stop salting because it would cost too much. So literally, i revised a contract just for them, that stated, they must notify us 12hrs in advance for any service needs and they hold full liability for their own property, weather we service it or not. no problem.

    No snow over 2" since then, but we've salted and plowed once since, its a liability to them, but to shave off costs, they're willing to accept it, hell no year prior did anyone have insurance anyway.

    Ill give you a good short story here. We did a walmart for USM "haha" in 2010-2011 season. Walmart/usm's contract between them stated we could never salt or service more than once in a 5hr period.

    Guess what happens each time the parking lot is plowed, documented and signed off in store? Can't salt with the end of the plow then because its not 5hrs later... i know its crazy.

    Then if we had to salt at 4am when the truck went by and the same truck came back around the route at 7am or 8am, it couldnt salt the lot, they'd deny payment or even invoicing them. We had to wait until the truck came back around again, sometimes until 9-11am to finally salt the 2nd time.

    We've NEVER had a documented slip and fall hit the insurance since 2007.... that season, we had EIGHT, 6 were from just that single walmart, where we ultimately were denied servicing the lot when it justifiably needed it. Another was dropped and the other on one of our sites was a fluke, lady slipped coming into the building, but was in a dry area, management took good documentation of it and was dropped too.

    One lady from the walmart, out of the 6, is now suing us this year "2013", because our insurance "peerless" offered her like 60k for some medical bills and now she wants more because she'll never be able to work again for hurting her hip :realmad:

    USM, us, the insurance company representing us and anyone else involved, are going to blame walmart and force them to assume liability of the suit since they demanded sub-par servicing as stated in their contract... it was something we missed when we signed the initial contract.

    Never ever assume liability unless your fully in control of what services are rendered and when.
  13. BigLou80

    BigLou80 Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    YUP! I don't know why everybody is so worried about being named on a suit. It happens most of the time it goes no where and your move on to the next one
  14. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,600

    If they are insisting that you can't put in liability exclusion clause then insist that they put in your an Agent of their business and specify exactly what service you are performing and how.

    For instance ... providing snow plowing with mechanical truck and metal plow for the grounds located at xyz. Site is to receive Agent agreed upon service based on phone call from so-n-so or based on a 2" trigger in which is measured by Agent and measurement is carried out within 5 hours of suspected occurrence. Upon successful trigger, Agent supplied services will begin within 2 hours of noted trigger. Additional winter services such as but not limited by salting, shoveling and refreeze monitoring shall be the responsibility of xyz. No specific or required communication of event hand off shall be performed.

    Get the idea. See your agent and ask that they have their underwriter review. Or just run the hell away.:cool:
  15. snoway63

    snoway63 Senior Member
    Messages: 344

    Also don't forget in most states you cant sue a third party which you would be, if someone falls it becomes the property owner who they can go after because you are considered the third party, google the law it is very clear, I know insurance companies wont agree but then again they are not lawyers they just want their premium so look into it