Notebook: Legal Punch List
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Notebook: Legal Punch List

As 2020 winds down, ASCA Legal Counsel Josh Ferguson offers snow fighters legal insights to close out this year and get 2021 off to the best start.

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December 16, 2020

As this stressful year begins to wind down, snow and ice professionals are just now entering their busy season. Combine the eagerness to close out a harsh year with the excitement of a new snow season, it’s easy to overlook details that could have a major impact on your overall business operations.

I reached out Josh Ferguson, Partner and Co-chair of the Philadelphia office at Freeman, Mathis & Gary LLP and the ASCA’s general counsel, to offer his best tips on what business owners should be doing/checking on/confirming at year’s end to both close out the year and to get the new year off on solid footing.

Pay Attention To The Details

“I am recommending business leadership take time to mind their P's and Q's on documentation,” Ferguson says. “While it may not have the same immediate impact as servicing properties, the long-term ramifications of incomplete or missing documentation could have catastrophic consequences.”

Confirm Insurance Coverage
Snow professionals need to affirm that they and every one of their service providers/subcontractors have adequate insurance coverage, Ferguson says.  

“The most significant insurance issues which impact coverage for commercial general liability coverage including snow operations and CG 2037 endorsement for completed operations,” he says. “Further, a contractor should make sure policies do not have contractual liability exclusions. Remember, you or your subs often get what you pay for. So, if the price of the policy is too good to be true, a deeper dive is necessary. Gaps in coverage could result in significant financial consequences down the road.”

Sign Off On Preseason Site Work
Confirm all preseason site inspections have been completed on all properties and those inspections are properly documented, Ferguson warns.

“Most claims involve some component on site conditions, and it is paramount that those conditions have been documented before the season starts,” he says. “This can give the contractor, its insurance carrier and ultimate defense counsel much of what is needed to contest liability and/or contractual defense and indemnity claims.”


Review Finances
If a snow professional has availed themselves of a PPP loan, state, or federal grant, then they should review the status of those monies and the documentation they have for how the funds were used, Ferguson advises.

“Accountants will need this information to assess compliance and tax consequences, and also make recommendations on whether any of the remaining monies should be dispersed within the fiscal year,” he says.

Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine. You can reach him at mzawacki@gie.net.