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damaged asphalt-who's responsible

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by ahaycoman, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. ahaycoman

    ahaycoman Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 78

    The other morning my blade hooked an edge and I ending up breaking loose a big chunk of asphalt. I've plowed this lot hundreds of times and even though there are some possible places to hook the pavement, they are all in other areas of the lot. I know where they are and I allow for them. There has never been a reason for me to think I could hook the blade where I did, but obviously there was enough there to catch the blade. Under the snow of course but there none the less.
    This uncomplaining long-time customer is one who pays promptly and never nit-picks, but he will definitely let me know about it if something isn't right. I intend to carry the financial responsibility if for no other reason because I want to retain him as a customer, even though I was going very slow and was not aware that anything was there to catch my blade. I'm adequately insured but probably will not turn it in since I've never had any claims to date and don't want to start an unnecessary track record. I just wondered if anybody had opinions on this. Should I have assumed that a break in the pavement had surfaced since the last time I plowed and I didn't know about it and therefore should not feel responsible? I'm going to pay for it regardless, but I just wondered what the thoughts might be.
  2. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 9,092

    First off tell them about it before they tell you. Was this area cracked damaged in anyway? It sounds like you have a pretty good relationship with this customer and they may just say we'll spilt the cost or don't worry about it.
    For the future you may want to walk a property in the beginning of the season to take pictures of damaged or areas that potential going to be a problem and share it with them.
  3. fireball

    fireball PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 545

    agree with buff--tell em before they tell you. Sometimes you get a frost heave and suddenly there is a edge that wasn't there before. Decide on what you are willing to pay out of pocket. The slightest hint of unreasonableness or anger on their part let the insurance company handle it. You can patch it with cold patch now but to fix it right might take till June
  4. Mike NY

    Mike NY Senior Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 108

    Time for a new line in your contract:
    Snowplowing is to be done with a heavy steel blade, trucks, tractors, loaders.
    Although every effort is made to avoud damage to your property, We will not be responsible for damage to parking lot surfaces, curblines, and lawn areas.
  5. leolkfrm

    leolkfrm PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,980

    if it is a matter of a few bags of patch and torch, couple hrs of work....tell him about it and fix it....worth it to keep a good customer
  6. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    seriously? lawn areas?

    maybe it's because I'm lawn maintenance business but lawn areas are the easiest to fix.

    lots of times if you grab a chunk of turf all you need to do it put it back in place and it will take on its on and come spring you'll never know it was done. but at most you just seed that area.

    turf repairs are ALWAYS covered by me when plowing. that's why they make markers. now curb lines and the actual lot is a different story.
  7. Mike NY

    Mike NY Senior Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 108

    We also fix turf areas to an extent, if the customer wants us to replace topsoil, seed, new sod, Basically wanting you to give him a new lawn, I will not and refer him to the contract.
    We always put the torn out sod back, stomp down any ruts, light rake maybe when we pull stakes at the end of the season.
    This came into play more with gravel driveways and lots, you can't tell me you rake tons of gravel out for free.
    Also, if they wont pay for removal, and i have to pile a seasons worth of snow on their lawn, It is their choice, they have options.
    I'm just not fixing for free nor will I remove for free.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
  8. UltraLwn&Lndscp

    UltraLwn&Lndscp Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    I have a similar line in my contracts.

    If its a good customer and small damage I would probably fix it. As has been stated, make a call or email the client ASAP to let them know.
  9. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,256

    Sounds like you're being reasonable despite not being your fault. Sometimes that's what it takes to keep a good customer.

    I understand what Buff is saying, but I was cleaning a parking lot a week ago that had 3" frost heaves in it that were not there last fall. I couldn't believe how bad they were. I was there yesterday AM and they were down again, not all the way, but not 3" anymore.
  10. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    I don't do gravel driveways.

    I have 1 gravel driveway and that's my grandpas. and while he does pay for my services I pile all the snow in 1 place and yes I do rake/blow the gravel out of the turf for free in the spring.

    but as for any client if my plow or truck did ANY damage to the turf I will fix it to there satisfaction at no cost to them.
  11. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Parking lot surfaces only last so long. If the owner has done no work to seal it or other maintenance items to minimize deterioration, then it's only going to get worse over time.

    I'd bring it to the attention of the owner, fix it this time, but let him know that you can't be responsible in the future due to natural deterioration.

  12. CityGuy

    CityGuy PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 17,220

    Thats what I was thinking. Mother nature will do strange things to asphalt. You cannot be liable for that.
  13. fireball

    fireball PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 545

    Personally, if you are going to do written contracts, then you need several lines in it to limit your liability. Been there done that, turfed the edge of the driveway, customer wants a whole lawn, scooped up a 2x3ft section of asphalt, the customer wants 23 acres of parking lots replaced so that it all matches, truck gets stuck against curb caving in curb line because contractor didn't backfill in island, customer wants new curbs cause we didn't plow them. What we do on day 1 is inform the customer that we are capable of doing damage and photo document the situation on day 1. Treat customers like the way you want to be treated and you will be successful in the long run.
  14. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    man I've been lucky. I've never had a client want a whole new lawn just from a chunk of turf being removed. usually they just want the spot fixed. no matter how small or large it is.
  15. JimMarshall

    JimMarshall Senior Member
    from NW PA
    Messages: 786

    We do not fix damage to asphalt for free, and have never had a complaint about it. We do repair/replace damages to lawns, curbs, and parking bumpers.
  16. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    I would think if the plow could damage the asphalt it must be in bad shape already and I would consider myself not responsible. I mean plows float across the asphalt. there isn't much keeping it down to "dig up" chunks unless they are already loose.
  17. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    Then there's the paving done by the illustrious ''gypsies'' of the industry who don't always ''key in'' when doing a section and for sure the plow will pick up a large piece of pavement.Just throwing it out there to inspect such a scenario in the Fall.

    Yeah,anything under the snow line that gets damaged I am not responsible for.
  18. ahaycoman

    ahaycoman Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 78

    asfault was not my phalt

    I had talked to the maintenance head the morning it happened, although it was unfortunately him who called me. Today I went up there and it was plain to both of us that it was nothing I did wrong or carelessly. We discussed a slightly different way to attack the lot which will work out OK. The big boss has been out of town all week so he may have different thoughts, but I'm thinking things will work out smoothly. I read all of your replies and have taken all of your very good advice to heart. Thanks for the come backs--everybody.
  19. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 9,092

    Good to hear they're being reasonable, you're only bad was they contacted you but it all worked out in the end.
  20. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    I wouldn't even say that.

    Just is what it is.

    We were doing a Lowes a couple of years ago, and at the end of the season, there was a 5'x'5 section of asphalt that heaved and broke up. Plowed it once and tore it to heck.

    Manager didn't care, said it was the hard winter and the frost heave. They fixed it themselves.