The Snow Removal Limited Liability Act addresses those hold harmless agreements and indemnification clauses where the property owner passes along their liability to the snow contractor. One of the misconceptions of this law, is that it outlaws harmless agreements and indemnification clauses all together. This is not true, says ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride, who as on hand for the Snow Academy session.
“It is only true when there is unfair liability transfer,” Gilbride says. “With the law enacted, if you have a trigger depth to start plowing, the simple explanation is that the property owner is liability until you are to provide service. You are responsible once you are to perform services. This is the way it should be.”
Gilbride was joined by ASCA legal counsel Josh Ferguson off the event telling the story of how the legislation was went from nothing to being introduced, moving through Congress and being enacted. Of course, the Colorado ASCA members did a great job of pushing this along and testifying.
Josh then was able to go through how you snow contractors can navigate under the laws. From a legal perspective, how can you handle contract negotiations, what to do when you get a contract with one of these clauses is in a contract today (you really don’t have to do anything, but taking the time to educate your client that it is not enforceable is a good business move.), what you can do with your contracts, and what to look for in the future. How are property owners going to act? Will their behaviors change? It’s it likely.
Gilbride talked to contractors about how to differentiate yourself. “It is no secret that property owners don’t want the liability,” he says. “Under the new law, they can still pass off the liability to the snow contractor. In order to do so, they likely will need to remove all trigger depths (or at least lower them) and allow the contractor to the make the decisions on when to provide service. This scenario is a good one though. This also means that the property owner will need to hire a quality contractor.”
In Illinois, where this law passed two years ago, many property owners are looking to hire contractors that abide by the ANSI/ASCA 1-1000 System Requirements for Snow and Ice Management, also known as the Industry Standards, Gilbride says. “This means a fair amount of property owners and managers are look for ASCA-C’s and ISO9001/SN9001 certification,” he adds. “These certifications are the only ones that prove knowledge and implementation of the Industry Standards. “