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Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Big Time Plow, Nov 20, 2003.

  1. Big Time Plow

    Big Time Plow Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    Someone told me that if i spread a lot i plowed i could be liable for any injuries since i salted is this true or false
  2. greenworldh20

    greenworldh20 Member
    Messages: 84


    CARDOCTOR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,312

    i beleive your liable either way
    in my contract it says property owner take full responsibility
    for any slip and fall claims
    if they dont sign it i dont do the property
  4. CamLand

    CamLand Senior Member
    Messages: 301

    heres one thats funny my contract basically says same thing that owner of property is liable,well when i recieved my contract back he black markered over it and said he denied liabilty yet still signed contract,so in simple terms he is now looking for new snow service..
  5. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Remember that you can be sued for anything. So to the extent that you'll be found negligent and have to pay some sort of punitive damages no one can tell you. What you can do is protect yourself with solid wording in your contract. Be fair though in your contract. Or, if you sign a customer's contract, make sure you only accept responsibility for your own actions, not everyone else's through a blanket idemnity/hold harmless clause.

    Look at it this way, if you're negligent because you don't follow through on your service as you should have - you should pay for "it". You should stand up and take your lickings. What you want to do is get clobbered because someone slips inside on the wet tile floor and then wants to sue you because you provide service outside.

    There are several factors that should be considered when limiting your liability. First, state in your "Scope of Services" exactly what you intend on doing. For example, you might state, "Owner has specified ice control applications to occur after most plowings and at any other time by request." This type of statement should release you of liability any other time it snows and is icy out. If you only salt after you plow, you're not responsible for slippery conditions leading up to the trigger depth and plowing service you've specified. Just make the scope of services reflect what you agree to do for the customer. Don't overstate your responsibilities if you're not going to actually perform the work.

    Second, keep very good records. Keep a storm journal. Print off weather records from the internet showing temperature fluctuations every 24 hrs surrounding your service events. Keep a detailed journal during the event. Make sure your operators are writing down exactly when they arrive on the property, what services they perform, existing site conditions and what time they left the property. Should you ever need records showing you performed service contradictary to what a litigant is claiming, your solid records will provide credibility to your argument.

    Lastly, have an attorney review or write your contract to make sure you are not unnecessisarily opening yourself up to liability.

    Don't be afraid to offer ice control services because of the potential liability. Just make sure you charge accordingly for it. All too often guys give their work away and they don't realize the exposure to risk they have. Prices are dropping throughout the market place because guys are simply getting into work of which they do not understand the costs.

    SIMA just announced that next August the Regional Training Seminar will be Selling, Bidding and writing contracts for [large] commercial jobs. This would be an excellent seminar to attend. The attorney who will be one of the speakers was in Buffalo last year and will share an enormous amount of information on this topic.
  6. whitetail

    whitetail Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    You can never be excused from gross negligence in providing service to the customer, even if your contract has them assume all liability. That said, if you provide service in accordance with the industry standard and someone does slip or fall, good record keeping will prove that you were not negligent and did provide adequate service. With this proof, and sound business practices, you will severely limit your liability exposure. Remember this is what insurance is for. If you do have to file a claim because of an occurrence make sure you stay on top of the insurance company and help them prove that you did nothing wrong. If you just turn it over to them and let them pay the claim without any kind of fight, your rates are sure to show it.
  7. JThompson

    JThompson Member
    from NYC
    Messages: 71

    I was just speaking with a condo board president who reviewed our proposal. This development cannot afford salting services as it is rather large and pays a substantial amount per storm for plowing and walkways. In my contract it states that if the owners refuse salting services then we are not to be held liable. He refused to sign this saying if we forget to clear a walkway and someone falls due to our failure to clear this walkway the wording of my contract will free us from liability even though the accident is a direct result of our negligence. He has a point. Anyone ever have this issue come up? How did you change your wording to take this situation into account?
  8. whitetail

    whitetail Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    John, speak with your attorney about this. I just recently had my terms and conditions page updated by my attorney because of this exact problem, customers thinking that this statement releases my business from any liability even if I am negligent. My attorney advised me that I could never be removed from liability if I am negligent, no matter what the contract states. I can only be removed from liability if I do the job correctly. His simple solution to this problem was to add the phrase "unless proven negligent" to the end of my indemnification clause. No complaints since then on signing the contracts once I give the customer an explanation. This also ensures the customer that I will do the job correctly to avoid any liability.
  9. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Whitetail has it right on.

    Asking the customer to hold you harmless if you screw up is like putting a sign in the rear window of your car stating "I won't be held liable for accidents I may cause".... It don't work that way.....
  10. imasnowpro

    imasnowpro Member
    Messages: 43

    I agree John. Nonetheless, our standard contracts have all kinds of verbiage releasing us from liability. It's been reviewed, amended and approved by our attorneys. I'd rather have it in there than not. It could make it easier to settle between the insurance companies are preclude a trip to court.
  11. Big Time Plow

    Big Time Plow Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    good help all

    thanks for all the input everyone
  12. parrothead

    parrothead Senior Member
    Messages: 157

    precedent set?

    wasnt there a case in which the judge ruled that jon Q public had to take responsibility for walking in the winter and couldnt just go suing willy nilly. Especially if like whitetail says, we have done everything we are supposed to. pray for snow!
  13. imasnowpro

    imasnowpro Member
    Messages: 43

    Anyone can be sued for anything. Pray fro snow and pray noone sues you!