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Anyone ever heard of this??

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Joel B., Jul 1, 2002.

  1. Joel B.

    Joel B. Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 233

    A buddy of mine who has plowed for many years told me he doesn't do sidewalks or steps because of the increased liability. He says you can get sued if someone slips and falls. I asked him what about driveways and he said "driveways are for cars".

    Ever heard of or been sued for someone slipping on a driveway (as opposed to a sidewalk/step)?

    Thanks again,

    Joel B.
  2. slplow

    slplow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 594

    It,s never happen to me but people are sue happy these day's. Thats wy its in you best interest to have insurance.
  3. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    I have a customer who's convinced that if we salt his parking lot he's exposing himself to a ton of liability. We plow the lot, shovel the walks and deice the walks. But not the lot.

    So since he brought it up I asked my insurance agent and my attorney that very question - both said in their opinion your no more at risk one way or another. My customer is concerned that he'll be tagged with a law suit because someone will assume the site is safe (since it's salted) and then slip. So he will have created this condition. Where as if he does nothing - then the pedistrian would assume this natural risk since he has nothing to do with it.

    Bottom line - make sure you have insurance. Because anyone can sue you for anything they want. It may not hold water, but it's still an inconvenience.
  4. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,224

    yes that is so very true Lawn Lad.That is why you need a good contract that points out all of what your doing.A buddy of my sand/salts on an oncall basis which is good one way no one can sue it's not your call to when it gets done but plowing that is another story .
    It's the insurance co. that let these people get away with comman sense suites .If you see ice and snow assume that it may be slippery when you go out.
  5. Rooster

    Rooster Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 650

    Lawn Lad,

    You might want to post your question on the SIMA forum on this site from the main page.

    Additionally you might want to consider joining SIMA, I know from conversations with other members of this forum that are members of SIMA, that you will have most of your questions answered.

    You can reach the SIMA site: www.SIMA.org Also one of the moderators here John Allin is a past board member of SIMA, along with Chuck Smith who is also a moderator here between the two of them, I don't think there is any question that can't be answered, or that they haven't run into in their years of snow removal service.

    Keep in mind that your particular area, the laws may be different, so check with an attorney in your area for the fine details.

  6. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Not being an attorney here is how I understand the issue to some degree.
    The snow falls and is classified as an act of God, or a naturally occurance. Once you set plow or shovel to the snow you are accepting the liabilities that are inherant with that action. Such as freeze thaw cycles, refreeze and the like.
    Whay do we even provide the service, for money, why do our customers want the service performed, for convienence and in the case of businesses, to make money. Not to many customers are going to venture into an unplowed lot.
    That all being said, get good insurance, and log everything, that way you can at least keep the lawsuits to a minimum. If you do get sued, dont sweat it, just turn in copies of your reports and let the insurance companies fight it out.
  7. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317


    Lawn Lad IS a SIMA Member already.... perhaps you meant Joel should join?
    Thanks for the compliment, and IMO I agree with Dino.

  8. ultimate plow

    ultimate plow PlowSite.com Addict
    from N. IL
    Messages: 1,770

    when you have a account, most likely the customer would like you to shovel the side walks. ususally if you have a walking spreader, you can spread salt and it would take about 10 - 20 minutes to melt at least 1-3/4 of ice. yes, you can get sued by the person that falls if they get seriously injured. but what can you do. you did everything you could to try to get the ice off.
    stay safe
  9. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    I'd be willing to bet that most plaintiff's attorneys would argue that if you, a business owner, open your doors for business, thus inviting customers onto your premises, without first having mitigated the risk to your customers that that act of God created, *you're* negligent, and liable, be it parking lot, driveway, or sidewalk.

    Once we, the snow removal pros, do our thing, or even enter a contract to do our thing, we share the burden of that liability. As I pointed out in some other thread once, there are people out there who're clumsy enough to trip over a line painted on dry pavement and lawyers who'll try to sue both the property owner and us for it. Hopefully, good records would convince a court that we excercised "due dilligence" in the execution of our contract, so we're not liable, but I honestly believe that the justice "system" is, as much anything, a game of chance...

    (Legal note: Author assumes no liability for the use of improper and/or incorrect legal mumbo-jumbo terms, or the mis-use of otherwise proper and/or correct legal mumbo-jumbo terms. )

    (Can't be too careful these days....) :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2002
  10. Rooster

    Rooster Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 650

    Sorry Chuck,

    Thanks for the correction.

  11. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    I too Thank You for the compliment.

    I do a lot of expert witness work for lawyers on both sides of this issue. In fact, it's taking up more and more of my time lately.
    I find that in most states the courts, if it gets that far, are now beginning to view slip and falls from a perspective of "have we (the contractor and the owner) done what was reasonable and prudent in protecting the person who enters a property". The owner who specifically tells the contractor not to deice usually assumes the majority of the exposure. I was just in on a case where the lawyer for the plaintiff accepted my recommendation to discontinue proceedings against the contractor for just that reason, but is proceeding against the owner (as I believe he should in that case).

    In these cases, I tend to find that the one common failure amongst contractors is the failure to document properly. And, then the insurance company has to pay off, thus raising the rates for everyone.
    If we do the walks, we insist on deicing them (and the customer pays for it).
  12. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Ah... by the way....

    Lawn Lad is a CSP too....