A Customer's Responsibility?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GardenTech, Nov 29, 2003.

  1. GardenTech

    GardenTech LawnSite Member
    Messages: 71

    I'm sure we've all had to deal with similiar situations, here's two of mine:

    1). Mowing a Good Customer's lawn, I step on an inground Yellow Jackets' Nest, get stung repeatedly, but being the conscientious LCO that we all are, I leave a Note in the mailbox, and signage about 3-4 feet from the hole. Later that night ( after I get back from the E.R.-I blew up like a Blowfish!), I call the client to make sure he got all my notes, and he casually says, " Yeh, I Know..I was meaning to tell you about that"...

    2). By this time of the Season, my left arm is Absolutely Shredded doing perimeter passes and moving overgrown Brambles and branches out of my way. When I have the time, I'll usually spent 10-15 minutes pruning the stuff back, and charge the customer a paltry $10-15 for the time spent. Customer calls up HOT and refuses to pay the additional charge. I KNOW I should have informed him before I did the pruning, but..

    My question is : at what point is it the client's responsibility to provide a Safe Working Enviroment ? I really feel there's a Legal issue involved in #1; and in #2, I know what I did wrong, but still feel slighted ( by the way, in each instance, I just Bit The Bullet, and continued the Season with each Client, a Little smarter and a lot more Aware). :cry:
  2. TotalCareSolutions

    TotalCareSolutions LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 518

    1) Dont go back until the hornets are taken care of. Leave some recomended & practical ways of dealing with hornets.

    2) Leave a recommendation w/ the customer for pruning. If they do not respond, simply work around those areas.

    I would be careful about pruning things on properties without the customers consent.
  3. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    Probably no legal responcability, they dont hand you a paycheck with taxes taken out. and its hard to prove anyway, and they will cancel. Just mow over the small stuff, and watch for bees, i know how you feel on that, i got bit and it cost $583
  4. STAN1366

    STAN1366 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    Getting stung is an "occupational hazard" in this business. Sometime, these things can't be helped. The customer should have told you there were bees if he knew they were there. As for trimming brush back that's in your way. No amount of $$ is worth getting wacked in the face with a branch. If it's in your way, cut it down and don't worry about it. If it's something that you feel you should get paid for, then by all means, discuss it with your customer. If they're not willing to pay for it, mow away from it. You'll be making more by having a little "less" to mow!
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I feel that both are your responsibility and not the customers. Sure it would have been nice if he told you about it ahead of time, but he didn't. What would your opinion be if he didn't know about it?
    As far as the pruning, I would have asked him first about it. If he refused, then tell him that due to the danger the lawn price will increase. He will more than likely tell you to prune them down.
  6. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,381

    In most States the homeowner is not responsible for the safety of workers that He/She has sub-contracted work to. The safety responsibility is yours. I know it sounds unfair, but that's the nature of the business. As far as trimming the branches go.. I would have trimmed them and mentioned it to the customer as a courtesy. After that I would suggest to him/her that the branches should be trimmed regularly and that you will do it for X$ per hour.

    LAWN WORX LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6


    The legal issues can be complicated and simply not worth it.

    On the YJS unless you taped the client admitting he knew and then sue him for negligence what else are you going to do? (not worth unless ER cost was very expensive and your insurance did not cover it). On my latest YJ encounter I was lucky I only got stung twice (saw them). Immediately stopped working in the immediate area, then told client and offered to come back late evening to gas the little suckers (at $40/hr of course). She said she'll get one of her relatives to handle it. Fine, I just didn't work in that area.

    On the brambles and brushes I have the same situation. Elderly lady doesn't want to spend the money. I asked her if she wanted me to prune the branches at $40/hr. She said no. I said I cannot mow in that area. She said that'll be fine. OK. Three months later when that area looked like c*@p she gave me the go ahead to prune. I do not think you have a legal issue on this one either because you could have easily prevented any damages you incurred by not running into the branches.

    In order to prevail legally you must have and be able to prove damages and negligence on the part of the client. The damages may not be to hard to show (ER receipts, etc) but in order to prove negligence it will be extremely difficult. There are different types etc..... Unless the laws are differrent in NY (could be). You might want to check with a lawyer that gives free initial consultations.

    I know you are pissed at these situations but believe me you don't want to mess with lawyers, unless its real serious.

    I hope I didn't get off base with what you were asking. Good luck.
  8. thfireman

    thfireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 541

    Tell me about it....Last month I was whacked by a branch that had never caused any problems. It knocked my hat and glasses off and poked a hole in my face just under my right eye and ripped it's way up across my eye lid to my brow. Bloody mess. It took me 15 minutes to find my glasses. They had been thrown about 20 feet away by the spring action of the branch. What a day!:dizzy:

    Oh yea.... I trimmed the heck out of that tree, at no cost to the customer. Just as a safety issue.:)
  9. troblandscape

    troblandscape Guest
    Messages: 0

    These issues should be in the contract, so there are no suprises on the customers bills...........

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