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Paperwork protection: Write it down to avoid frivolous lawsuits

Features - 2012 Snow & Ice Report

Those involved in the professional snow and ice management industry have often heard that you really should make sure to have good documentation records.

Kevin Gilbride | November 1, 2012

 

Kevin Gilbride

 

Those involved in the professional snow and ice management industry have often heard that you really should make sure to have good documentation records.

I am not sure what those that don’t document think, but I have heard a lot of reasons: I don’t have the time. My guys won’t do it. It really doesn’t matter. It does matter, and at ASCA, we hold proper documentation as an industry standard. But I want to be clear, it is not ASCA that is forcing this documentation; it is our country’s legal system. The truth is, 45 percent of professional snow contractors report that they incur at least one slip and fall lawsuit each year. It is not a matter of if a professional snow and ice management company gets hit with one of these. It’s a matter of when.

Now here is the problem when the inevitable occurs. I recently had a conversation with a snow professional and we were talking about these lawsuits. He told me of a conversation he had with a judge a while ago. The judge told him point blank: “It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, it only matters what you can prove. Unfortunately this is the society we live in today.”

This statement reinforces the fact that more than 50 percent of slip and fall lawsuits are lost or settled due to documentation. ASCA supports this industry. Much of what we promote is in an effort to protect this industry and our members from frivolous lawsuits.

As you continue to evaluate your business, look at your risk management practices and how you can help protect yourself. The legal community has forced documentation as a key to success in the industry.


The author is executive director of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association. Email him at kgilbride@gie.net.

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