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Clearing Confusion with Snow Removal Contracts

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Business Contracts

Can we all agree that there is actually something comforting about looking out the window on a cold winter’s day and seeing a nice new blanket of snow on the ground?  Particularly if that snow is no longer on the sidewalks, parking lots, or road ways?

If you are a business owner and you share this sentiment, you have probably long ago thought through what is required for your business to attend to the needs of clearing your adjacent sidewalks and parking lots. You have done this to provide safe access to your building for your customers and employees.

If your solution to this matter has included hiring a snow removal contractor, you’ve probably executed some sort of agreement for this service. This agreement likely has included the level of service they will provide and how much it will cost. But, did the agreement also include language that makes it clear who will be responsible for an accident on the sidewalk or in the parking lot while the snow is being removed or after it has been removed? (more…)

Sign On the Dotted Line: The Importance of Understanding Service Provider Contracts

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Business Contracts

Picture this: An elderly couple wakes up on a cold morning in the middle of winter and they head out for breakfast. On their way, Lenny and Gertrude decide to swing by your business. They pull in and park their car. Lenny rushes out to open Gertrude’s door, as he has done thousands of times before. In his haste, poor Lenny doesn’t notice a small patch of ice on the ground and he slips, breaking his hip. Lenny doesn’t believe your business caused the fall and refuses to turn in a claim. However his healthcare provider, knowing the incident occurred on your property, has gladly decided to pursue a claim on his behalf and begins sending threatening letters to your business.

As a claims professional, hundreds of claims cross my desk in a given year but no claim type matches the frequency and severity that comes with slips, trips, and falls. Often times these falls occur as a result of snow and ice in a parking lot that is serviced by a contractor or as a result of rugs delivered by a linen provider. It’s only after a claim has occurred that a second thought is given to that contract you signed with a service provider that ended up stuffed into the bottom of a filing cabinet somewhere. The simple truth when it comes to liability is that those contracts do matter. They may not always be iron-clad but they can help or hurt your bottom line. (more…)

Business Contracts: Certificates of Insurance and Liability Limits

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Business Contracts

To better manage your business, you may hire outside experts or contractors to help maintain your facility or provide a service to your customers. You will enter into agreements when hiring these contractors, and you may be advised to obtain certificates of insurance. These are legal documents designed to protect your business from liability and financial harm. Let’s take a closer look. (more…)

The Dangers of Hold Harmless and Indemnification Agreements

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Business Contracts

Hold harmless and indemnification agreements are becoming increasingly important in business contracts. They are elements or clauses within a contract or agreement that can work to your business’s advantage, or they can just as easily work against your business. Hold harmless and indemnification are terms that are used interchangeably, but do not necessarily mean the same thing. As with many things, the devil is in the details — or in this case, the wording. (more…)

Using Contracts to Protect Your Business

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Business Contracts

A business should use written contracts with hold harmless and indemnification agreements to its advantage. The days of handshake agreements are disappearing; they may be gone entirely. When hiring a contractor or service provider, or renting or sharing space within a building, only do so based on a written agreement. The agreement should contain as much detail as necessary to define what work is to occur, what service is to be provided, and how or when it is to be done.

All agreements or contracts should be drafted with the help of legal counsel. While sample contracts are available online, there is often a disclaimer at the bottom — a disclaimer is another term used to deny liability — saying that the website and sample creator are not responsible for errors, omissions or damages of any kind if you use the sample. This doesn’t mean the sample can’t be used to create a draft, but the draft should always be reviewed by legal counsel before it is implemented.

When drafting a contract or agreement, use language, as well as hold harmless and indemnification agreements, designed to protect your business. (more…)