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Broken Window - Who pays/what would you do?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by procut, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. procut

    procut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,852

    Alright, while doing clean a clean-up on Friday, at appears some stones were in the lawn and the mower happened to catch one and throw it shattering the window of a truck driving by. Now, the mower had a recycler kit in it, which completely covers the discharge, so the fact that a stone escaped and flew about 50 feet is completely beyond me.

    Anyways, I was the one on the mower when it happened, and had no clue that a rock had escaped. At first I thought this guy was driving by with the window already broken by and saw a nice lettered truck and guys working and stopped looking for patsy to replace his window. However an employee was standing at the back of the truck fueling a blower and says he saw/heard it.

    Now originally I gave the guy a card and said get an estimate to fix it and get with me. Well, the estimate was laying on the fax machine today, and lets just say, it's not a nice number.

    Now that you know the story, my question is, am I really even responsible? I mean if you are happy homeowner, and you are mowing your lawn with your 21" on Saturday morning and throw a rock and break someones car window, do you have to pay, or is it the vehicle owners responsibility to just turn it in to their insurance?

    I know it's not good biz, but I'm half tempted tp just tell the guy, "Hey, I didn't see it happen, the guards were all in place on the mower, if you think you can prove I broke your window, sue me."

    I'll probably end up cutting the check for this, but just looking for some opinions.
  2. pflasch

    pflasch LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 294

    That's a tough one!
    If I had the mulch cover in place, and wasn't on the side of a hill where a stone could possibly escape, I'd probably tell the guy that there was no way you could have caused the problem!
    Yes, people will drive around looking for pro mowers WITHOUT the discharge chute down (I hate it when I'm driving down the road and I see this... they are just asking for problems!!) and blame you for throwing a rock! What can you do? Not too much!!
    But, in your case, I'd probably call the guys bluff... get my camera, take a picture of the mower, and where it was... with the mulch plate on, (have him / her in your photo also to prove you didn't take the photos later) and THEN tell him to contact their lawyer!

    I think that it probably varies by state, but if your were running SAFE, and you can prove it with pictures... that has the "victim" in them... now THEY would have to prove that your equipment was the source of the rock... and with pictures, that's going to be tough!

    BTW, I always carry a small digital camera in the glove box! Everyone should!

    Have you ever done a property where you have seen something damaged BEFORE you even start to mow? Take a digital photo of the area BEFORE you mow, to prove to the owners that you were not the cause of the problem. If no one is home, leave a courtesy message on their phone telling them about the damage that you had found before you started to mow, and you had taken a photo of that damage... just be nice about it!

    Without the photo or the phone call, YOU will be blamed... and how could you dispute the fact without proof.

    With a photo and a nice courtesy call, you are not under suspicion, and you have an informed customer that will not take their business elsewhere... hopefully!! :dancing:
  3. Hanau

    Hanau LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,568

    Yep, you're responsible. Hell your own employee saw/heard it happen. Be a man and step up to the pump. Send the guy a check with a nice note apologizing for the inconvenience. Be glad you didn't hit someone in the head and kill them.

    If it's a huge number (can't be more than a few hundred for a truck window) kick it over to your insurance company.

    This is the way it works. If you pay him he'll tell no one except real close friends and family. If you put him through the ringer he'll tell everyone who will listen about how you broke his truck window, almost killed him, and then wouldn't pay to make it right.

    That couple hundred dollar truck window will cost you thousands in bad publicity and lost work. This is the digital age. Suppose he has a Facebook account and sends out a message to all his contacts. Then those contacts forward it to theirs, and so on down the line. 24 hours after you tell him to pound sand half the people in Michigan will know about this. Now suppose it winds up getting to your existing customers?

    They're going to think "I'd better get somebody else before this clown breaks something on my property".

    In the digital age this kind of public relations is more important than ever.

    Not only is it important for your corporate image, but it's old fashioned being a good neighbor.
  4. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,305

    Only 1 Estimate? What does the law state about that?
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Pay for it.

    Good for your business, business image, reputation, and I could go on and on.

    I've had a couple of freak occurrences where I broke a window. Unfortunately it's the price you pay when you mow lawns, especially when you become larger and have more accounts.
  6. JB1

    JB1 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,904

    and say you were driving down the road and something flew out from somebody's mower and broke your window what would you do, probably would be jumping up and down screaming on how they broke your window. Quit acting like a scrub and fix the window.
  7. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,645

    I have heard of a small claims court where the Judge ruled that the LCO was not responsible because the guard was down. The Judge was not saying the mower didn't do the damage. He was saying the LCO took reasonable care not let it happen. That the LCO was not being negligent.
    Yea, I have had a big rock fly across the road. The rock sailed over a car coming out the opposite side of the deck with no discharge. I have had them come out of the front too. So it can happen. I think the rock hit the ground and bounced up over the road. I held my breath...
    I hit a sitting truck rear window while weedeating. "Used truck"-- window cost me just under $400
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009
  8. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 7,051

    I can't believe you'd consider NOT paying. Your a scrub for sure if your trying to weasel your way out of it. Especially since your employee heard it happen. At least your employee is honest.
  9. LouisianaLawnboy

    LouisianaLawnboy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,199

    You were on someone's property and you employee heard you break the window. You broke the window, guard or no guard. Windows don't just shatter for no reason. You break you, you buy. My contract says I pay for anything I break, unless its caused by HO neglect.(Toys in the yard)

    Also Charles, if someone tried to use the defense that they installed safety devices, my response would be that you were operating unsafe because you mowed over rocks.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. Turf Dawg

    Turf Dawg LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,719

    I had to have a window replaced on a Chevy extended cab. The small window on the extended cab door was 380.00 to have replaced. The glass people said it would have been alot cheaper if it had been the windshield.

    BTW, I think the farthest I have shoot a rock [or other object] was out of the side of a Walker GHS. It went across a blacktop parking lot, hit a curb, went air born and hit the second level of a apartment building. Luckily there were not any people near, but it went right behind a car and just missed the apartment window by a couple of feet. So yes, even with the mulch kit rocks can be thrown.

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