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View Full Version : Owners want me to pay for broken backhoe


Mike33
09-30-2006, 11:21 PM
I have stated before i do not own a dump truck i have my choice of 3 people to choose from. Last week i was working in a real nice development in my area where it is all nice homes. The development is always expanding and they have there own eqpt., graders, track hoes, dozer, etc. Along with this they have all material there for building a new yard, shale for fill, clay, top soil out of field, and river bottom top soil. I ask them if they would sell me about 10 loads of top soil for 2 small yards out side of the development i was doing. The foreman i always deal with and pay my bill said yes. I called one of my truck guys and told him to be there at such time for hauling. The foreman sent a guy up to load truck and i asked him if he was going to be there the rest of the afternoon to load that the truck would be back about every 25 minutes. He said he wasent sure and i told them that the guy driving the truck ( 52 years old ) ran equiptment his whole life and even owns a hoe and does work on the side could load but it was up to them. I went to my job and started moving dirt the driver said on the next load the guy told him to go ahead and load. Well 3 loads later the driver told me the hoe broke, the safety plate come out some how and when he lowered the boom it knocked off a hyd. line. I went over and seen it and there was not much fluid on the ground so i know he shut the machine off as soon as he seen fluid. I know this guy he is a good operater and does not rough equiptment. Later i get a phone call from one of the partners of the dev. and said that i and the cont. who owned the truck was liable and they had a mechanic out that stated the machine was abused and the parts bill was up to $2,700.00. I said i would contact the owner of the truck and get back with them the next day but i would not commit my self. I was on my way to look at a job which the guy was a attorney i told him my story and he said tell them *********. The next morning i went over to the dev. and spoke with another partner and he talked respectfully to me as i did him , he felt i was liable since i was a cont and i subbed the trucking i would be resp. I didnt want to loose these people s respect they even commented that i had what it took to come and talk with them and i did nice work in there devp. I told them that i didnt feel resp. but the best soultion was to call my ins. agent that what ever they decided i would go with but i would not make a cash payment because that admits guilt. I called my ins. agent and he called them and ttold them no way was i liable call the other guy if any one. I didnt not have a contract with that guy as a sub cont so tough ****. Also it was there eq. it broke so fix it your self these things happen. I felt for them but i was just a guy buying dirt and they left the truck driver run the machine i never told him to. Also there was no spin marks where he was ramming in to the pile of top soil and that would still be hard to do a lot of damage just loading top soil. They stated the gear pump was ruined and the cylinder was bent i think it was time for the machine to brake. I learned a lesson here i wont even borrow any thing any more i will rent if needed and sure never run any one elses equiptment.
Mike

Dirty Water
09-30-2006, 11:28 PM
He broke a hydraulic line and the gear pump blew?

Uh, ok...Someone is trying to take you to the cleaner. Its probably a $50 at the most line.

I don't think your responsible, but this is a good lesson to learn as far as operating other peoples equipment.

I've seen the same thing happen here, another contractor borrowed a backhoe and backed it into yet another contractors dump truck, ruining the radiator. There was a lot of finger pointing on that one too.

Green-Pro
09-30-2006, 11:52 PM
Agreed, I think they are blowing smoke up your a**. What kind of shape was the equipment in to begin with? I know areas that are profitable/good to work in are ones you don't want to pi$$ off but possibly they exaggerated the repair items? This and workload is exactly why I finally bought the machine I have now, I didn't feel comfortable with having an arrangement with another local contractor. When something goes bad in situations like this, and they eventually do, rarely does anybody come out on top. We rent equipment we can't financially justify keeping on hand.
Good luck to ya Mike, keep us posted on the results.

RockSet N' Grade
10-01-2006, 12:05 AM
I too have been in this boat.....What I would do right now, just in case, is go take pictures of the site, dirt pile, hydraulic puddles on the ground, all angles of the equipment as it sits......you get the drift.....shoot a whole roll of film of every little part of that machine. Do this as soon as possible. No need to tell anyone....just hold on to the pictures just in case....

If it was just a hose that broke, I'd offer to buy them a hose and install it myself. If they want a new back-hoe and get legal with you.....at least you have the pictures to help with your point of view.

olderthandirt
10-01-2006, 12:15 AM
Don't matter what condition the machine was in, you made the suggestion and recommendation that the driver could operate equipment. It just happen to break when he was using it. Thats why you don't borrow equipment it cost you twice as much as buying or renting since you should have it fixed at your cost and you still don't own the machine. It also sounds like your trying to hang the driver out when he was doing you a favor.
If you don't pay I bet you get screwed over by the developers and the trucker and he will be talking to the other trucks you hire. Your in a lose-lose situation

Mike33
10-01-2006, 12:45 AM
Okey, i didnt borrow the hoe. The hoe belonged to the develpment there employee told the truck driver to go ahead and load. I only told them that this guy was an experienced operater it was up to them. I left and didnt even know what would follow.
Mike

Gravel Rat
10-01-2006, 12:49 AM
I think the developer's teeth a brown because there is no way a gear pump is going to fail from a blown hose. How is a cylinder going to get bent digging topsoil.

Around here if a developer gets a bad name it spreads so fast he will never get a contractor back on their site. It sounds like the developer is a idiot.

I don't know what safety plate you are talking about ?

What is the backhoe is it some old POS ?

You can't let the truck driver take the blame for the problem you hired him. If you let him get stuck with the problem then you will get a bad name.

Tell the developer you want you want to have a second opinion on repairs because you feel your getting ripped off.

Mike33
10-01-2006, 12:53 AM
Don't matter what condition the machine was in, you made the suggestion and recommendation that te excav. he driver could operate equipment. It just happen to break when he was using it. Thats why you don't borrow equipment it cost you twice as much as buying or renting since you should have it fixed at your cost and you still don't own the machine. It also sounds like your trying to hang the driver out when he was doing you a favor.
If you don't pay I bet you get screwed over by the developers and the trucker and he will be talking to the other trucks you hire. Your in a lose-lose situation
No i am not trying to hang the driver in any means. If legally he is at fault then his bosowner would be liable. I feel other things generated and me and the excav. ( truck ) were the scape goats. All of this damage did not arise from a broken line. There making good money selling dirt and should of had a person running there eqpt. They gave this man permission at the time but felt different after the situation. I would gladly offer some money for leg. repair gut i think they are going a little far. The truck drivers owner of company told them to kiss his ass. Yes, i think it is loose loose for me.
Mike

RockSet N' Grade
10-01-2006, 12:55 AM
I've gotta agree with GravelRat......it's not the truck driver's deal. Take the heat off him.....it's between you and the developer/builder.

Mike33
10-01-2006, 12:58 AM
I think the developer's teeth a brown because there is no way a gear pump is going to fail from a blown hose. How is a cylinder going to get bent digging topsoil.

Around here if a developer gets a bad name it spreads so fast he will never get a contractor back on their site. It sounds like the developer is a idiot.

I don't know what safety plate you are talking about ?

What is the backhoe is it some old POS ?

You can't let the truck driver take the blame for the problem you hired him. If you let him get stuck with the problem then you will get a bad name.

Tell the developer you want you want to have a second opinion on repairs because you feel your getting ripped off.
I m talking about the plate under the arm even skid steers have them so when you raise the arm to work on machine it wont come down. Normally there is a pin holding it in, this one had a piece of wire somebody else did not replace pin when it became missing. No im not let the driver take blame, they want to knock the driver saying he abused machine i know him and he would not do that. I think they just want some one to pay for an overhaul of there machne.
MIke

Mike33
10-01-2006, 01:05 AM
I've gotta agree with GravelRat......it's not the truck driver's deal. Take the heat off him.....it's between you and the developer/builder.
i felt i did by going to them and telling them i would call my ins. My ins. agent told them they were liable for there own machine. Things break and it would of happened regardless who was on it. One thing then asked was could they supply maintance records, they said no. Agent followed with few more ouestions like that and told them ins. company would deny claim fix your own machine and you were making money with it.
Mike

Mike33
10-01-2006, 01:28 AM
The point is truck driver can not be held liable. Its the idea they came at me and how a minor incident became a major repair. this is where the flags start flying. How ever i learned years a go from a minor incident never make a payment on some thing like this because you just admitted guilt and could pay for ever, this is why we carry ins. and i chose to trn it over to them.
Mike

Gravel Rat
10-01-2006, 01:35 AM
I wouldn't let the developer get away with this they are trying to con you.

If the line broke off the loader arms wouldn't lift and there would be hydraulic fluid everywhere. The only way you would burn the gear pump out is if it ran dry but there would be allot of fluid on the ground.

How is a mechanic supposed to tell if the pump is worn out without removing it from the machine ?

ksss
10-01-2006, 01:37 AM
I would tell them to "pack sand". Your not liable. Consult with your lawyer and bring him/her up to speed but I would not entertain any further contact with these people. Let alll contact be in writing from their lawyer to you.


Also the pump could be out if hyd. fluid was purged from the system through the break and the pump ran dry.

Mike33
10-01-2006, 02:10 AM
I wouldn't let the developer get away with this they are trying to con you.

If the line broke off the loader arms wouldn't lift and there would be hydraulic fluid everywhere. The only way you would burn the gear pump out is if it ran dry but there would be allot of fluid on the ground.

How is a mechanic supposed to tell if the pump is worn out without removing it from the machine ?
Ther was very little fluid on the ground meaning the machine was shut down as he seen fluid spray .
Mike

Mike33
10-01-2006, 02:10 AM
I wouldn't let the developer get away with this they are trying to con you.

If the line broke off the loader arms wouldn't lift and there would be hydraulic fluid everywhere. The only way you would burn the gear pump out is if it ran dry but there would be allot of fluid on the ground.

How is a mechanic supposed to tell if the pump is worn out without removing it from the machine ?
Ther was very little fluid on the ground meaning the machine was shut down as he seen fluid spray .
Mike

Mike33
10-01-2006, 02:13 AM
I would tell them to "pack sand". Your not liable. Consult with your lawyer and bring him/her up to speed but I would not entertain any further contact with these people. Let alll contact be in writing from their lawyer to you.


Also the pump could be out if hyd. fluid was purged from the system through the break and the pump ran dry.
i feel after my ins. agent started to handle it i would not make contact woth them either.
Mike

Gravel Rat
10-01-2006, 02:17 AM
I can't see the pump being burnt out if the truck driver shut down the machine soon as he seen fluid spraying. A backhoe usually holds upto 10 imperial gallons of hydraulic oil.

Time to tell the developer to go suck eggs your not paying for a pump you will pay for a hydraulic line and thats it.

FearThisDeere
10-01-2006, 11:53 AM
I agree with everybody else. You are not responsible no matter how much money they try to take for you. Take this job and shove it.

mrusk
10-01-2006, 11:59 AM
The devloper is a deadbeat. Do not deal with him on any dirt or anything ever again.

Don't worry about him slandering you. What goes around, comes around.

olderthandirt
10-01-2006, 01:57 PM
The foreman sent a guy up to load truck and i asked him if he was going to be there the rest of the afternoon to load that the truck would be back about every 25 minutes. He said he wasent sure and i told them that the guy driving the truck ( 52 years old ) ran equiptment his whole life and even owns a hoe and does work on the side could load but it was up to them.

If you had not recommended the driver then I would agree its not your fault, BUT you wanted the dirt even though the guy said he was not sure he would be there when the truck returned. Its at that point you recommended the driver run another companys equipment.
I say your screwed from getting any more materials from the developer at the least and if it turns into a court battle I"ll bet they find you 50% responsible.

FWIW- I would try and work out a compromise of some kind with the developer
To defend yourself in court will cost more than $2700

RockSet N' Grade
10-01-2006, 06:35 PM
OlderThanDirt said it alot better than I about the chain of command/responsibility of the truck driver. Go out of your way to defend the driver and take him out of the equation. That is the responsible thing to do in my mind.
I will say again, I believe it is in your best interest to go shoot a roll of film of the site and machine as soon as possible. This may prove invaluable and would cost you, say $3.00, for a roll of film? Pictures can be rock solid evidence.....
Along that same line.....I always carry a digital camera in my dump truck and a disposable camera in each and everyone of our vehicles, not only for situations like this....but if we do a good job or run into something funny or interesting, we have the camera right there. (Now, I've just gotta find a kid to show me how to load that stuff from the camera to the computor.)

Mike33
10-01-2006, 10:27 PM
OlderThanDirt said own emplohan I about the chain of command/responsibility of the truck driver. Go out of your way to defend the driver and take him out of the equation. That is the responsible thing to do in my mind.
I will say again, I believe it is in your best interest to go shoot a roll of film of the site and machine as soon as possible. This may prove invaluable and would cost you, say $3.00, for a roll of film? Pictures can be rock solid evidence.....
Along that same line.....I always carry a digital camera in my dump truck and a disposable camera in each and everyone of our vehicles, not only for situations like this....but if we do a good job or run into something funny or interesting, we have the camera right there. (Now, I've just gotta find a kid to show me how to load that stuff from the camera to the computor.)
Thats a good point, i do have my employee as a witness. i hate to go back until i hear anything else. The hoe was way down in a field where i dont really have any business being there especially now.
Mike

Mike33
10-01-2006, 10:52 PM
If you had not recommended the driver then I would agree its not your fault, BUT you wanted the dirt even though the guy said he was not sure he would be there when the truck returned. Its at that point you recommended the driver run another companys equipment.
I say your screwed from getting any more materials from the developer at the least and if it turns into a court battle I"ll bet they find you 50% responsible.

FWIW- I would try and work out a compromise of some kind with the developer
To defend yourself in court will cost more than $2700
yes i see your point and im trying to keep an open mind. At this time since i contacted my ins. agent and he spoke with them im not going to make any contact i feel there is no sence in stirring any ****. When i went out and spoke to the one guy we even talked about future times for dirt that i might take my bobcat to dirt site to load trucks. How ever they didnt want any hauled out of the devalopment. I figured sooner or later even before this situation they would cut back on the dirt going out of the develp.
Mike

sheshovel
10-01-2006, 11:32 PM
Ok let's get this straight, your insurance agent is NOT a lawyer. He has no place deciding upon who is or who is not liable for the damage, all he can do is tell you if they will cover the damage or not, he should have sent over an adjuster to check out the damage right away, he would have taken pictures, and made a decision and THEN contacted them to say yes we will pay or no we won't pay.
So that is how that should have worked. He has no power to determine who was in the right here.
That's what judges do.
Now, you spoke to a worker about if he was going to be around all day to load the 10 yards. Well the foreman sent him over to do just that don't you think?
You should have spoken to the foreman about your driver loading NOT the worker. Of course the worker is going to tell your driver to go ahead and load, especially if he knew the hoe was on the verge of breaking. No you did not have to tell your driver to load because you had told the worker it was fine, you trusted the guy, no problem. You offered him up.
Were you thinking? Nope not at all all you were thinking about was getting what you wanted done. Not "What if the driver injures himself while on someone else's property, running someone else's equipment. Not what if something breaks while he's on that equipment. Did you even think to look the hoe over to see if there was any obvious potential problems with it. like wire instead of pins holding things on? Nope. You just were not thinking.
I agree that the damage was probably not done by the driver..but you have no way of proving that at all.
You took the chance that this could happen the second you offered your driver up to load. You took the chance, it happened and I'll bet you a judge will see it that way too.
So all you can do is get a mechanic out there to give you an estimate of the damage done, and ask him to look to see if he thought the pump had been run dry by the line breaking. You have a right to do that.
Then all you can do is hope for a lower estimate on the repairs and pay for it.
You are at fault here even if your not see?

RockSet N' Grade
10-01-2006, 11:54 PM
Leave it to a woman to cut right to the heart of things. Well thought out and well presented SheShovel. I think that sums it all up and certainly speaks well to the issue of personal responsibility and the jack pots we can and have all found ourselves in at one time or another.

Mike33
10-02-2006, 11:00 PM
Im not afraid to listen to all sides and always keep a open mind. I did speak with an attorney that evening and he said tough **** its there equiptment fix it them self. Even if they dont like what my ins. says if they decide to sue me my ins. will kick in then. I will not make a cash settlement that is the wrong way to go, and besides thats why i carry ins. And to back up the employee asked the foreman if it was okey for truck driver to load and the foreman okeyed it. Also the fruck driver is not in the hot seat he works for a contractor and is only an employee. The owner of the truck or company i told him what was going on and he said they can go **** them selves if his eqpt. breaks he fixes it. Last in 1 week time i bought $ 4,000.00 worth of dirt.
Mike

tylermckee
10-04-2006, 11:48 PM
Around here contractors borrow other contractors equipment all the time, or someone will leave a machine somewhere for another person to load themselves. If it breaks it breaks, the owner fixes it. there is no way the driver could have cause that much damage loading top soil, like someone said earlier it would be a great idea to go take a bunch of pictures of the equipment, the top soil pile, check the hours on the hoe, etc. Im guessing its an old worn out hoe thats been rode hard and put away wet? at the most i would fix the broken line and tell them they are on their own for the rest.