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Discussion in 'Water Features' started by TRBIGCREEK, Feb 4, 2008.
What are you guys doing to avoid liability of someone drowning in one of your features?
Are you talking legally or morally?
After we do a water feature, we do a walk through with the customer explaining everything to them. We then have them sign a pond completion form so each party knows they've lived up to their side of the contract. By them signing the completion form they take on 100% ownership of the pond. They know that if we have to come back and do anything to the pond (except for the warranted things) they will have to pay. This also lets us and the customer know that anything that happens after we leave the site is the responsibility of the homeowner. We've never had anything happen (knock on wood) but good question.
So far, I have been told in training by some big time pond builders, that there has never been a case where a pond builder has been held liable, (or even a homeowner for that matter) for someone drowing in a typical ornamental type pond. Hopefully judicial precedence will stay the same on that issue.
A small child tragically died in a tiny front yard pond here in Oklahoma this summer. The pond was not surrounded by any type of fence or anything but ultimately the negligence and responsibility fell back on the parents of the toddler.
TRBIGCREEK, That can be a touchy subject depending on what part of the country you are in. Always make sure that you are well within the building codes and local ordinances for your area and you will cover most of the legal issues. In my area we have standing water ordinances that say if we are under thirty-six inches of total water depth, we can not be held liable. If we are deeper than this, we must provide a complete fenced in area with a locking gate.
Having an iron clad contract that exempts you from liability can be expensive but there are precautions that you can take. Even if you can not afford to hire a lawyer to make up your contract, you can do most of it yourself and at least scare off 99% of the customers who might try to file a lawsuit should something happen. But then it only takes one lawsuit to put you out of business.
I would also recommend that if you are not a member of a professional organization like the NAPP, (National Association of Pond Professionals), you should be. These guys are fighting for our rights around the clock and around the country. If you ever have any questions as to which group to join...it was easy for me. I found one that has been "non-profit" from the beginning and one that has great focus for the industry and the one that has nearly 65% of every manufacturer in the industry as a member. NO ONE ELSE can say that. Plus the NAPP membership has been steadily climbing over the past several months so they are really beginning to move.
The reason why I mention this is because last year a small boy fell into a privately owned pond in Florida and died. The NAPP was very helpful in providing the lawmakers down there with the kind of information they needed to determine who was at fault...and it was not the pond builder.
The NAPP, whether you beleive it or not or whether you join or not, is out there fighting for our rights to do what we love...designing and installing water features.