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Feedback- Residential Plowing Liability Issues

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Erlee, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. Erlee

    Erlee Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Residential Plowing Liability Issues

    While it may be an unpleasant thought that no one wants to approach it is nevertheless a reality check and we all have to deal with it.

    Need some feedback please-

    On a residential driveway plow, how many of you really consider the liability involved, with icing that is?

    How many have had a bad experience with a client due to icing conditions after clearing away snow? Was legal process enacted?

    When leaving a completed job site, how much weight do you place on including a de-ice application ?

    Do you make it a mandatory service prior to start or offer it as an option? How would your liability position differ if it was an option presented, but that the client refused? Should a waiver or acknowledgement be executed?

    Would your liability differ if your business advertised snow management only and not a combined snow and ice management service?

    Since the cost of doing business includes liability insurance, what's your average built-in as a percent of operating expenses?

    Would be interesting to see how this issue is handled by others.

    (Posted in the general forum without any response; figured I'd try in this section since it is more of a business issue! )
  2. sg1efc

    sg1efc Junior Member
    Messages: 2


    Hi Erlee: I don't plow, just use snowblower and shovel. But I can tell you that I have drawn up a very detailed Agreement for people to sign before I do any work for them. I have included among many other things: a waiver of any liability on my part for Anything that is beneath the snow which may be damaged (newspapers and such) and most importantly I am not liable for any injuries to anyone in any way, shape or form. Lawsuits or "Hitting The Lottery" as so many people call it these days (Thanks to all the lawyers and judges who Don't rectify this horrible sitiuation of fake lawsuits and extremely outrageous damages being awarded) is a real concern these days. I state what areas I will remove the snow from and even the fact that my snowblower will Not remove all of the snow and that some snow Will be left behind. Make up an Extremely detailed Agreement for your customers to sign, imo.
  3. Erlee

    Erlee Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks for the reply sg1efc.

    While I agree that a well drafted contract will minimize the risk of a lawsuit a great deal, it will not keep one out of court. No contract is that bulletproof and if someone really wanted to cause harm in reciprocity of an unfortunate event, the expenses incurred in the defense process would become a major burden.

    Nevertheless, a good contract is a major part of the formula for minimizing the contractors risk.

    BTW, how do you handle their financial responsibility to you? Do you charge as services are rendered, on a retainer with added charges (as services rendered extend beyond stated scope of services/events) or, with an up front that is replenished as services are rendered.

    I'm curious to find out how others handle the issue and the consideration given to these factors which have an effect on the bottom line- profit.

    There are many contractors on this forum with years of experience and I'll bet they have built up a pretty good knowledgebase that they wouldn't mind sharing with us.
  4. CPSS

    CPSS Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    First, take your rough draft or your completed contract to a personal injury attorney for review. Most lawyers will review a contract for under $100. Next, submit it to your insurance company ( not your agent). My insurance company actually sent a safety auditor out to check out our operations, our vehicles, and to review our paperwork including contracts and invoices. All at no charge. He was very informative and kept stressing that he was working for us. One thing he stressed a couple of times was the "amber caution lights" as he called them. Said they were to be used at all times we were plowing. Said it was a frequent area of liability in the event of an accident, must be in some lawyers magazine recently!

    Don't just assume you're covered if you just say in your contract that you are not responsible for anything....etc.......
  5. sg1efc

    sg1efc Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    That's very good info CPSS, Thanks! I do a variety of different jobs and have been trying to make up contracts for each type of job I do. Your suggestion of taking a contract to a Personal Injury Lawyer is a good one which I didn't think of. Have to figure out how to find a good Lawyer to go see and maybe he can help me figure out a generic contract format. Then I can add specific details for each specific job I do for people. Thanks again. :)
  6. computerguy

    computerguy Member
    Messages: 88

    Example Contracts???

    I searched the site here and only found one link for a real contract. I was hoping to find a couple more for examples from people with real experience. I am new but want to cover my a$$:D Any else that can post real contracts would be much appreciated:help:
  7. BLinindoll

    BLinindoll Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    When I first started looking at example contracts I was like :dizzy: Now, after getting used to the wording its a lot easier. Looking at many examples makes it much easier to make your own. Take a little from this example, a little from that example, add some of your own ideas, and BOOM... ya got yourself a contract. Just make sure it sounds professional, but simple at the same time. Read it over and over again. I'll bet you will change something every time you read it. And try to have it reviewed by a lawyer.

    Here is an example contract I found.


    (Maybe it's the one you saw already)

    I changed some things to suit my needs. If you would like a copy of mine, just PM me and send me your email address.