No one expects or wants a slip and fall due to snow or ice to happen, but everyone should be prepared, just in case. This preparation begins with the initial discussion between your snow removal company and you, the property owner and/or manager. To reduce the liability exposure for both companies, all details of the property and scope of work must be discussed.
The contract should include details regarding who or what trigger decides when the snow removal company begins work. For example, company will begin snow removal when the snow becomes 1″ in depth and deicing will begin only upon property representative’s request. Besides the general description of what areas need to be serviced (for ex: lots, sidewalks), any specific areas that need special attention or are not to be touched should be described as well. Any known problem areas such as poor drainage, roof run-off or no sun should also be noted on the contract as well as any special instructions provided by the property representative.
Should problem areas arise or come to the attention of either party, the other party should be notified so an effort to remedy the situation or make a plan for service can be made. For example, if the gutter falls off the building and will not be able to be repaired before the next snow storm, the property representative should inform the snow removal company so they can determine how to treat the water runoff if it refreezes.
Once everyone is on the same page regarding service details, good communication and documentation of the weather and services performed will help lower liability exposure even more. Proof of when the property was serviced and inspected as well as the type of weather that occurred can help build your case against negligence.