“Digitally store documentation when at all possible,” advises Justine Baakman, an associate in the Philadelphia and Morristown (NJ) offices of Freeman, Mathis & Gary. Baakman focuses her practice primarily in the areas of employment, HOA, commercial, construction, and professional liability litigation in both state and federal courts. “It’s much easier to store documents in the cloud then to find a space for paper documents.”
There are methods for reproducing documents that won’t negatively influence the defense in a slip-and-fall case, Baakman says. For example, if a contractor spills coffee on a site report and it needs to be handwritten, that’s okay as long as it’s noted, she says.
“If you handwrite a report and then later type up a digital version, then both versions should be kept,” she says. “However, if the handwritten copy gets lost or damaged, as long as it’s noted and you can give a credible explanation, generally that’s okay. But we’re always going to need to note that this is not the original document.
“The other party is entitled to the original document,” she adds. “And if for some reason the original isn’t available, we need to make [opposing counsel] aware of that.”
And if a document simply cannot be produced because it was either lost or damaged, Baakman says it’s considered “adverse inference” by the court and is not favorable to the defense in a slip-and-fall case.
“From a jury’s perspective, that’s something that will be looked down upon,” she says. “If a document existed and is now no longer there it’s seen as benefiting the opposing party’s case.”
While the statute of limitation on a slip-and-fall claim is two years, Baakman recommends snow contractors maintain their documents for at least 5 years.
“Often, you might get a case where the lawsuit may get filed, but [the contractor] may not be aware if was filed for two and a half to three years after the incident happened because, maybe, the [contractor] wasn’t served properly,” he says. “With digital storage nowadays, that shouldn’t be too much of a burden on the contractor.”
And when in doubt, Baakman recommends snow and ice management contractors always consult their attorneys on the proper way to maintain, reproduce and store the documents that relate to their business.
Mike Zawacki is the editor of Snow Magazine.
It was an exciting week for the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) and the Massachusetts snow and ice removal community regarding the association’s model legislation and the state’s legislature.
A committed contingent of snow professionals from the ASCA and Massachusetts Assoc. of Landscape Professionals (MLP) took in a series of meetings with state representatives on proposed legislation that prohibits clients from passing on their negligence through hold-harmless agreements and indemnification clauses. This legislation has been adopted into law in Illinois and Colorado.
Our meetings were informative in nature, explaining to elected officials the nature of commercial snow and ice removal and the importance of this service to not only the state’s economy, but to community safety and well-being during the winter. The Massachusetts economy is no stranger to snow and ice events, especially extreme winter events. In fact, according to NOAA records, state-wide snowfall averages range from 30 inches to nearly 80 inches.
We left these meetings confident we were able to get the industry’s message across to legislators and that they understood the critical nature of the ASCA’s model legislation. There will be more to report in the weeks to come as the legislation is assigned to a committee for consideration.
In the meantime, I want to thank those who contributed their time and participated in the discussion. They include: Joe Szczechowicz (ASCA,MLP), Mike Wiess (ASCA), Dick Churchill (ASCA,MLP), Peter Dion (ASCA,MLP), Doug McDuff (ASCA,MLP), Brian Paige (ASCA,MLP), and MLP lobbyist Stephen Boksanski.
Click below for a images from the day's events and happenings.
If you have any questions, or would like to get involved with legislative matters in Massachusetts or another state, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a little bit of company literature about the SSV provided by Ventrac:
For snow contractors, what was once a frustrating area to service is now made easy with the addition of the SSV. The Ventrac Sidewalk Snow Vehicle is unique because it takes on a smaller form than most commercial equipment with a 34-inch machine width. It can easily fit on those narrow 36-inch sidewalks and all attachments are built with the same parameters in mind so that everything goes together seamlessly.
Features found on the operator’s platform include the ignition switch, USB 2.0 charging port, front headlights, rear work lights, and the gauge cluster. Viewing the gauge will easily show the operator hours in use, voltage, parking brake, and oil pressure. Drop spreader and/or brine system controls are located in the center of the operator’s platform, including the hand held nozzle for the brine and controls to regulate the flow of material.
I'm looking forward to seeing the SSV firsthand at the upcoming Snow Show, Aug. 30-31 in Pittsburgh, and talking to company reps about the impact it could have for contractors trying to overcome winter labor shortage. They'll be in Booth #114.
They stand out in a crowd. They appear to be the brightest star in the sky. People admire them. Their judgement is unquestioned, and they get results. And for all their positive attributes the most impressive is peoples’ unflinching confidence to follow their lead without questions.
So, is there some super power hardwired into people who show a natural ability for leadership?
Yes, without a doubt, says Steve Yacovelli a leadership consultant, owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group in Orlando. But this doesn’t mean that mere mortals can’t hone their own skills to become successful leaders, he says, they just need to worker harder at it.
Yacovelli equates leadership with an affinity for athletics. “Some people just have it naturally,” he says. “They ooze leadership awesomeness and people say ‘I trust you. I want to follow you.’
“I think everyone can be a leader,” he adds. “But some people may have to work harder on it than others.”
Leadership is about being authentic, which Yacovelli says is a key competency in successful leaders. With some people this trait is second nature and they’re just more open, authentic and themselves around others.
“With some people it comes naturally,” he says. “Other have to work really hard at it. But over time -- just like with any competency or muscle – once you do it enough times it becomes second nature.”
While there are books, courses and other resources – both free and for a fee – available to jump-start your leadership training, Yacovelli cautions to take a simpler approach and limit your skill development. In fact, he recommends to start out developing the competencies other leaders within your organization excel at.
“For example, not everyone is a great communicator,” he says. “Focus there first and find out what it is those folks around you who are really good at [communication] are they doing right?”
In the end, “It’s that desire to change that is the No. 1 factor [in successfully developing into a leader],” Yacovelli says.
Mike Zawacki is Editor of Snow Magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com.