During winter in Wisconsin, slip and falls are unfortunately a common occurrence. If you are responsible for clearing snow from parking lots, or sidewalks, it is important to have a proper contract in place to make sure you protect your business as best you can. Here are a couple of tips to help make your contract a little stronger.
Define Specifically when and where the operations will be performed
Avoid providing 24-hour ice watch or property monitoring
Snow removal provider should not be the one to decide when they need to perform duties
Contract should define property owner’s obligations
Avoid accepting responsibility for property owner’s negligence
As a snow removal contractor, you will want to be sure it is clear to your customers when and where they will want you to provide services. In your contract, it is helpful to include phrases such as.
“Snowplow contractor will only plow the premises upon an accumulation of two inches of fresh snowfall.”
“Snowplow contractor will only apply sand, salt, or other melting agents to the premises upon specific request by the property owner. A separate charge for this service will apply.”
“Premises subject to this contract are defined as driving lanes of rear parking lot only (or as shown on the attached diagram).”
“Premises include driving surfaces and specifically exclude parking spaces and pedestrian walkways.”
“Property owner will direct where snow is to be piled.”
Laying everything out beforehand with your customer is a good way to help avoid any future disagreements and can occasionally provide protection for you in the event of a slip and fall. Print off an aerial of the property and diagram exactly where your operations will take place, then have the customer sign off that they agree to everything diagramed. It is also important to define the property owner’s obligations under the contract as well. Here are a couple of phrases to include in your contract that help do that.
“Property owner maintains the responsibility for monitoring and inspecting premises.”
“Snowplow contractor is not responsible for the melting and/or re-freezing of snow, ice, or rain after application of salt or melting agent(s) as directed by the owner.”
“Services of snowplow contractor are deemed to be satisfactory unless property owner notifies the contractor of a problem within 24 hours of the services being performed.”
“Snowplow contractor is not responsible for injuries or loss that occurs after the contractor leaves the premises.”
Never accept wording that obligates you to an almost impossible task, such as “snowplow contractor agrees to perform continuous monitoring of premises.” If the property owner insists on an indemnity clause on the contract, it should not indemnify the owner for anything more than your own negligence. Avoid accepting responsibility in the contract for the property owner’s negligence (such as faulty drainpipe that leads to a reoccurring ice condition). Here is some language to use if the property owner insists on an indemnity clause.
“Snowplow contractor agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the property owner from any claims, suits, or demands of damage or loss arising out of the sole negligence of the contractor.”
“Snowplow contractor agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the property owner from any and all liability arising as a result of the contractor’s own negligence.”
Avoid using language such as the following.
“Snowplow contractor agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless property owner from and against any and all claims and liabilities incurred by owner based upon, arising out of, or in any way related to the services contemplated by this contract.”
“Snowplow contractor hereby agrees to indemnify and hold harmless property owner from and against any and all liability, claims, suits, or demands of damage or loss arising out of either direct or indirect action of the contractor.”
If you are drafting the agreement, consider adding reverse indemnification language.
“The property owner agrees to defend and hold harmless the snowplow contractor from and against any and all damage and/or liability arising out of any incident that occurs either before the contractor performs his/her duties under the contract or after the contractor has left the premises.”
“Property owner agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the snowplow contractor from any and all liability arising as a result of the owner’s own negligence.”
“Property owner will add the snowplow contractor as an additional insured on his/her liability policy.”
Since it is winter in Wisconsin, there are inherent risks to walking outside. Including the wording above can help protect both you and your customers in the event of a slip and fall. It is always a good idea to have an attorney look at the wording of your contract agreement. Otherwise, we would be happy to review your current agreement paperwork and provide suggestions.
Reach out to Paroubek Insurance! Our trusted advisors are knowledgeable and are a great resource to help make sure you are properly protected. Source: Secura Insurance