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Anyone ever been sued for a slip and fall and LOST?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by merrimacmill, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Hey, I just got to thinking about slip and falls. I just want to get some input from other members on this site about this issue. Has anyone ever been sued for a slip and fall on a property you plow? Did it hold up in court and what were the circumstances? My contracts clearly state that I am not responsible for any kind of slip and fall and I sell snow plowing and salt spreading. Not snow and ice management. Does this have any bearing on wether or not a case would hold up in court?

    The whole thing just got me kind of nervous, since we're a property management company and have quite a bit to protect in real estate, so I just wanted to know everyone elses opinions on this.
  2. Lynden-Jeff

    Lynden-Jeff PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,433

    Ive been told by every contract to just let insurance deal with it from the start, thats what you pay for and they rarely used. This is my first year so I have yet to be sued. Also the "im not responsible bit does mean anything, and wont hold up in court. If you are worried about it, and you are the property management company, maybe you should hire a snow and ice company, that way if some one does slip and fall, its not your problem. Also you should make sure your insurance covers slip and falls, especially if its not specifically for the snow plowing.

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2008
  3. carcrz

    carcrz Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    I've had a few claims against me, mainly in the last couple years, but w/ insurance I've never lost a battle. I keep very detailed records of what I do & when I do it. I also make a note @ the bottom of any obstacles that may have been in my way (e.g. parked cars). I also make a note as to how much snow there was at time of service starting & if it was still snowing or not when completed.
  4. terrapro

    terrapro PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,912

    my insurance agent told me they almost never have any slip and fall claims but they do have alot of claims against plow guys for snow piles block peoples vision so they cant safely turn into roadways.
  5. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    If you have a slip and fall that you can deal with personaly, I would do it. We've had a few small ones that we've looked after our selves because they weren't asking for a lot and the people were reasonable and our insurance company provided us with a signoff sheet.. I had a slip and fall last year at a shopping mall, where I plow and salt the lot only, not the sidewalk. Well someone tripped on the sidewalk and guess who's name is on the lawsuit. I'm not even liable and it's on my insurance record as pending and my insurance goes up almost $10,000. They won't get anything from me because I'm not liable and it's almost settled now but I've already payed out. The only thing to protect you from slip and falls is detailed records. We do site checks starting before 5am 7 days a week. We have seperate log sheets for every site and they are filled out everyday and put in binders for each site. The insurance companies have become much more diligent with slip and falls and won't pay out right a way like in the past, which is good for us.
  6. bike5200

    bike5200 Senior Member
    from Ky
    Messages: 437

    The contractor that I work with found out about two years after the incident that his insurance company paid for a slip and fall. He was changing insurance companies and a slip and fall report was in the file. The insurance company did not contact him they just paid the claim. :drinkup::drinkup:
  7. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    I had a slip and fall happen on a lot that I maintain last December 14th, 2006, over a year ago now.

    The last I've heard about it was in August when my insurance company, after looking over phone records, 3 days of weather stats and accounts from both myself and the people that control the property, called me to tell that they were denying the claim. They also said that the property's insurance was denying the claim as well, so most likely it will end up in court.

    They would be in contact when that happened so I could testify. That was 6 months ago now......

    Property was supposed to call when they needed salt. I did not have the right to freely spread salt as needed. It was signed off by the property people this way.

    The property called at 9:45, I was onsite at 9:55, gal slipped at 9:56 as I was spreading salt and blew out her knee.

    The property said they called 8 times that morning to get service. I run all calls through my cell phone and it showed one call at 9:45. Video tape from their entry door showed me walking in at 9:55 saying I was starting to spread salt.

    The property then said they saw my truck at the lot at 8 am. They said my trucks are red. I drive a dark gray Dodge with white lettering.

    Basically, property was making up anything they could to try to pass the blame onto me.
  8. Liquid

    Liquid Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    There are a few ways to manage this problem, kinda sick we need to go to this extent, but this is a sue happy world and we need to cover our a$$. If you have a GPS, Garmin, Tom Tom, whatever, check to see if it can store a bread crumb trail. Most of the new ones do and the information can easily be transferred to your computer threw a USB drive or even a CAT 5 cable. I actually manufacture one that is pretty advanced, it will send all data from each vehicle in the fleet back to a land based computer to be stored for review. It will give you application rates and calculate the pavement re-freeze point. I can go on and on about what it can do but, I refuse to ever tote any of my products on here. I have read a few posts from guys that have a Blackberry or Trio, down load Google maps! click breadcrumb trail when you enter the lot, do what you need to do, click save route, send the route to your e-mail address. It will give you the time, date, how long you were there and the paths you made threw the lot. This is a great tool to keep in your arsenal not only for protection but if you the company owner you can better monitor your fleet and have a better idea on where improvements can be made, it will help you save payup.

    If your on the west coast, your prob not reading this but, WOW........ I hear some areas are getting 8"-10" of snow an hour!! Have fun guys!
  9. TaylorMade

    TaylorMade Junior Member
    from MPLS
    Messages: 13

    As a contractor you are some what protected because the management company should be the one to request the service. You are not required to be the person to determine the safety issue or need for salt. Including if you live in an area that is going to have snow and ice you have to take some Personal responsibility for you decision to live in the climate.
  10. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,747

    Did you choose to drop this property after they tried to do this to you? Did you finish the season with them?
  11. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Right now I only do residentials and I plow the parking lots that we own at our building. But do residentials normally pull slip and falls? I've never herd of it, but just wondering.
  12. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    I still service the property. Next year (already had leases done with the tenants for this year) I'll be raising the prices 100% and have complete control with the snow services. The owners have already agreed to this.

    I can salt when it needs salting, I can move piles back when they need to be moved back.

    Whatever needs to be done I will now have free reign.
  13. Oasis

    Oasis Senior Member
    Messages: 273

    From what I've researched and now understand, if you sell de-icing services it all comes down to negligence. If you keep good records of what you do, when and how much then you are pretty well covered if you have slip and fall liability clause in your contract. Ultimately its always up to a judge, however, if you have an inurance accepted contract they will stand behind you. Unfortunately they have final say on how to handle claims. I know with our residential clients we DO NOT offer de-icing services and striclty plow. This has no responsiblity for slippery conditions. We do not plow ice and therefore are not responsible for icy conditions as stated by our residential contracts. Our commercial customers however have the option of de-icing services.

    If your contract states that the property must contact you when they need salting services it is their responsibilty for slip and falls as long as you salt when they request again using good paperwork. If you are responsible for choosing when to salt as we are, as long as you use your best judgment and we use our own senses to assess when conditions are slippery. If the weather forecast suggests icy conditions emenent we will salt as well. Again we keep all the paperwork and have it ready for the insurance company if they ever request it.

    Hope this helps.
  14. TaylorMade

    TaylorMade Junior Member
    from MPLS
    Messages: 13

    The home owners insurance would be the first to pay out but you should get a hold harmless agreement in your contract because the Insurance company will try to pass the buck. Remember when you need an attorney you are paying for the quality bullsh$$t that gets served to the Judge. In My past I was a very Good Bull Sh$$ter.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2008
  15. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    In my contract it says the property owner will contact me when they feel they need salting services. This is on a per call basis. So it is not in my normal duty to perform this. I've only had to salt a customer twice this winter. I salt our own lots everytime it snows though.