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accused of scratching a car

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by FoxHill_Lawn, Jun 28, 2014.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,774

    There are three types of individuals in situations like this. The first is someone who is wanting something for nothing, sees the guy mowing, and figures this is an easy way to get something fixed.

    The second is someone who really does think, for whatever reason, that you have created a problem, but is reasonable and will let you explain why it couldn't have been you that caused the damage.

    The third is someone who is totally convinced it was your fault, and no matter what you say or do is going to change their mind because they are so much smarter than the "mowing guy".

    If the car is owned by the first type, I'd tell him to take a hike. You know you didn't do the damage, so why should you, or your insurance company, pay for it? Chances are you'll never hear another thing about it.

    If the owner is the second type, you should be able to explain why that type of damage could not possibly have been caused by you or your equipment.

    If the owner is the third type, well, good luck dealing with them, because no matter how much proof or common sense you throw at them, they are still going to be convinced you screwed up.

    I mow an office complex, have for 12 years now. About 4 years ago, I get a call complaining that we "threw" grass into one of the employee's car that was parked with the windows down. I was nice about it, but explained that I never point the discharge chute toward the vehicles, but it was a windy day and that clippings blowing in the wind are basically unavoidable. They didn't make too big a deal about it, so I just started trying to mow after hours, when feasible. What was funny is that a few weeks later, I realized what happened, the neighbor lady has a zero turn, and the property line is like 8 feet from the parking area on that side. She mows like a screaming banshee, and I have no doubt she blasted the cars without even thinking about it.

    This year, I was mowing when I saw one of the employees walking from across the street. She flags me down, and tells me that the week before when I mowed, I chipped her windshield in two places and that I needed to start informing them before I started mowing so those that wanted could move their cars off the parking lot.

    I first of all, apologized, and told her that if I caused the damage, I'd be more than happy to pay for it. She told me that they were surface chips, and was told they can't be repaired. I began to ask more questions as the whole thing was sounding fishy. She said she had a training session that day out of town, and left her car parked there early that morning, and returned late in the evening after we had mowed, and discovered the two chipped places as she was driving home.

    She said it looked as if a rock had "skipped" across the windshield, hitting two places. That is basically goes against the laws of physics, as any rock hitting the windshield is going to deflect at an angle, not hit in two places. I told her that I just didn't see how this could have happened, as there is one small area of grass at the corner of the building, and that I never point the discharge chute towards the vehicles when I mow, and when I trim, I'm very careful and mindful of the vehicles. There is also a glass door right there, so I make sure the debris isn't tossed that direction.

    She starts telling me how mowers can throw stuff long distances, etc., and that she knows she is right because that was the morning when the big storm came through, and there was all kinds of debris blown onto the parking lots etc. All this time, I'm thinking her car is parked in the first parking space, and I'm thinking "well, maybe". Then I ask where it was parked, and she points and shows me. It was in the third space down, nosed in.

    I finally just told her I was sorry her car got damaged, but that I really didn't see how it could have been caused by anything I did. She remained adamant that it was my fault and I saw it was a waste of my time trying to convince her through logic that I hadn't damaged her car.

    My brain sometimes works a bit slowly, and it was the next day when it finally dawned on me that she said it was the morning after the storm. Then I knew immediately what had happened. We had like 70 mph straight line winds when the storm moved through, so in all likelihood the wind picked up debris off the parking lot, or, quite possibly, the roof of the building, and hit her windshield with enough force to chip it. I've seen that happen before with my own vehicle. She just noticed the mowing had been done, so, immediately it was the mowing guy's fault.
  2. FoxHill_Lawn

    FoxHill_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. FoxHill_Lawn

    FoxHill_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    The third type.

    What do you do? Just say its not your fault and leave it at that? Did they take you to court? What is their next course of action?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. FoxHill_Lawn

    FoxHill_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Finally got a call back from the car owner. He says there is "new" chips and dings in is paint. Apparently there must be older ones and he knows exactly where "they" are. He seemed decent. Knows that his paint isn't perfect. Has pictures. Hes in buffalo now and wont be back for a few days. He told the hotel/rental owner I scratched it. Now he tells me I put numerous dents and dings on both sides.
    Rental owner says I do a great job cutting and said the guy leaves next month. Lives a couple hours away. Wanted my ideas on leaving it go to small claims court on the idea he might not want to drive a few hours back and forth for it.
    A string trimmer in my mind could not dent and chip cutting grass. I wasn't hitting dirt. It was 3 inch grass.

    There were also 4 other cars in a line in that drive way. I damaged just his? Hes saying I damaged both sides. One with my zero turn and the other with a fs 90 at 1/2 to 3/4 throttle. Oh well.
    Id like to have my insurance fight for me if they got involved, but theyd prob just settle. Costs less. Ill find out more on monday.

    Oh well. Sorry for the drama. Just venting I guess.

    Im a full time firefighter and working at the station this weekend. Just feel like my hands are tied. I really enjoy this stuff. But this has me frustrated.

    Stay safe!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,137

    This is a tough one.

    First, drop the account. Sounds like a current and future PITA. Some 'city slickers' will get all over you for getting a blade of grass on their car. Let it go, get away fast.

    As far as calling insurance...tough call. If they run a paltry claim of a few hundred dollars they will jack your rate next renewal. If you have a good agent, maybe discuss and he can help you decide if you should run it through.

    As for the car owner, don't interact with the fool anymore. Don't return his calls, don't verbally altercate yourself by talking nonsense with him. Just stay away.
  6. show-n-go

    show-n-go LawnSite Member
    Messages: 232

    We run into this kind of problem at my regular job. Those scraches were probably not you fault and have been there for some time, problem is the grass you left on his car caused him to inspect it, upon his inspection he found "new" damage that he wasn't aware of. At the dealership we clean every service car, a dew times a month people start bitching saying we dented or chipped their car, we do a walk around on each car before we touch it for this reason. People don't pay attention to things until they are given a reason to do so. I would argue it with him in the hopes that he goes away.
    When you look at it, run your nails across the damage, if you can feel it then it needs paint, if not a buffer will take them out.
  7. DuallyVette

    DuallyVette LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,629

    I would not contact my insurance company. I didn't scratch your car... Prove it in court. Conversation is over. It sounded like the property owner was on your side.
  8. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,774

    Fox Hill Lawn, I never heard any more about it, so I just told them I mow on Wednesday, and, if I ever mow on another day for any reason, I'll call. I'm guessing she is the only one that bothers with moving her car across the street. :)

    As for grass on vehicles, I hear that mentioned a lot on here. This is the way I look at it, if you "plaster" a vehicle with wet grass thrown under force, then I can understand someone being upset. However, a few blades of grass "a blowin' in the wind", are, to me, no different than all the other assorted dirt that collects on vehicles. That is why they have car washes. If cars stayed clean indefinitely, then they would all be out of business. If you are worried about grass getting into the passenger compartment, then keep the windows rolled up. Just common sense.

    As for your situation, there is nothing in grass that is going to chip paint. I agree that the chips and dings have probably been there forever. Last year, my wife and I were driving down the highway in our pickup when we heard a rock hit the windshield. We started looking, and, sure enough, there was a damaged spot. I took it up to the body shop the next day, because our insurance, like most, will pay for repairs waiving the deductible. Guy comes out and says had already been repaired. I remembered then having it done a couple of years before. We both had gotten so used to the defect being there that we didn't even notice it until we heard the rock hit, and started looking. I felt like an idiot. :laugh:
  9. PicturePerfectLawns

    PicturePerfectLawns LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,743

    Some body wants a free paint job.

    There's two things I don't do, that's work for free, and take responsibility for other peoples faults or accidents. If I we're you, I would have done taken pictures of the so called "dings", taken pictures of the grass that was being trimmed within days of hearing about it, along with good shots of how high it is trimmed to show there is no dirt or rocks in the area. Simple enough, if I did it, I'd pay for it. If I didn't do it, I'm not paying for it. Sad thing is, it isn't just this person, there's many, many more out there. As stated earlier, blame it on the lawn guy is the easy way to get free repairs. Their going to have to prove that one in court. In fact, do you have pictures from the minute you arrived at the hotel? How do you know a rock didn't bounce up on the road when on the way to the hotel? But it was in fact my trimmer that was trimming grass, just because I happen to be in the vicinity. Get lost.
  10. Firefighter337

    Firefighter337 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 373

    What about a police report? Ask for one. There should be no tickets involved since its private property.
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