who's at fault?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Brianslawn, May 31, 2006.

  1. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,002

    i had a truck load of dirt delivered, today. i had to run down the road to get more diesel for tractor before dump truck gets there. dump truck driver calls me up when he gets there (im at gas station). ive used this company for a few years and no problems. they usually want a check before they dump. guy said he'll go ahead and dump and asked where i wanted it. its going in back yard so i asked (on phone) if he could back through double gates (10' wide) to back yard and dump. i told him if he couldnt to dump as close as he could. i figured he could go up driveway and off to side a bit through gate next to garage. driver calls back a bit later saying he got stuck. i start rushing back and he calls again saying water is coming up. i get there and the ford f650 dump truck is barried up to the rear axle (about 2'). driver said he got out and checked ground... felt solid... instead of driveway he thought it be better if he strattled watermeter in ground and went over sidewalk through yard. when he sunk it next to watermeter, he broke the main line's input to meter and water started gushing out.

    i tried yanking him out with my f550 4x4, but ripped the bumper off. (chitty weld job from eaglebody). he calls his boss and he comes out with f350 and calls another dumptruck (f750). it takes both them tugging, plus me pushing with kubota to get the 650 out. city gets there to fix pipe and they want to know who is at fault so they can bill them. dump truck co owner refuses fault saying i instructed them up into yard. homeowner (my customer and a cool guy) says it should be truck driver for going in yard without a spotter. i dont feel at fault but offer to split it with truck co owner. home owner said hes had leaks on the city line next to meter before, recently. we all ask if there could be a small leak to saturate the ground before truck sunk. city denies responsibility. its been real dry lately, but got a bit of rain last night, but not enough to make a sinkhole.

    truck co owner says their policy is if someone calls the truck up into the yard, then truck co no longer has any responsibility. however, i have never been informed of that policy in 4 years of doing biz with them.

    homeowner said lets split it 3 ways. he'll pay a third. we all agree. he calls me later saying it aint my fault and says hes thinking about taking them to court.

    is it city's fault for possibly having a leaky pipe?

    mine for telling dump truck to try and go through yard?

    homeowners for whatever reason?

    driver for going through yard without spotter?

    truck co owner for whatever reason?

    this area used to be swamp land, but they built rich houses on it. this lot is on a bit of an incline an higher than others. i never wouldve thought you could sink a truck on this yard. my customer wants to sue truck co owner. who's fault is it really?

    if its mine, i want to take responsibility, however i dont think im to blame.
  2. lawnmaniac883

    lawnmaniac883 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,613

    Sounds like it is a combination of parties at fault. I would hold the homeowner at 0 responsibility and the truck co 75, you 25. JMO; wonder what the bill will be.
  3. grass-scapes

    grass-scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,552

    the way I look at it, if you told him to back to the end of the driveway and dump it and he decided to go elsewhere to dump it is HIS responsibility. Keep in mind that if the owner takes him to court, you may lose this company as a supplier. The trucking company has insurance for this, I would think.
  4. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,002

    the city said around $200 in damages.
  5. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Brian, here is my take on this. I, personally, would not allow the homeowner to pay anything, even if I had to eat the whole $200 myself. I mean, we aren't talking big bucks here, and the goodwill would be worth more than that, I'd think.

    I also think it should be the responsibility of the trucking company/driver, rather than yours, since he always had the option of waiting a few minutes until you got back. I, too, am sure they have liability coverage for this, but might have a deductible over $200. I would think the trucking company would be willing to accept the loss, just to insure future business with you, but who knows. Some people are just plumb greedy, when it comes to a few bucks.

    Anyhow, good luck with this. Neill
  6. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,246

    Brian, I would say it's the co's fault. On the other hand may be the home owner wants to get back at the city.:confused:
  7. grassmanvt

    grassmanvt LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 906

    At first I thougth this sounded like it would be an expensive deal I thought city water main equalled big bucks but this must be something different than I had in mind. But at $200 its not even worth arguing. Play the hero, pay the bill, write it off, move on. Now, as to who is actually responsible,well, I would say if its something visible, its the drivers fault, if it's something underground,you really should know whats going on before sending him in there, but again, for $200, you'll spend more trying to recoup it and end up looking like a jerk in the process.
  8. wski4fun

    wski4fun LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 323

    How about If you pay it and the supplier gives a $200 credit on your acct. Ins won't cover such a small amount.
  9. jameson

    jameson LawnSite Fanatic
    from PNW
    Messages: 7,472

    You may have been informed in the fine print. Customer has ZERO responsiblity. You gave permission for the supplier to be on site. Regardless of the ineptitude of the driver, you are at fault. After a day like that (and we have all had 'em), $200 sounds cheap.
  10. deereman

    deereman LawnSite Senior Member
    from USA
    Messages: 518

    I also go with the fault lying with the trucker myself. But in no way shape or form should the homeowner be involved. It is not a lot of money ($200.00) so to make things easier I wouldnt think twice about paying it and I also wouldnt think twice about NOT rehiring the trucking company. As it is not alot a money for him either. But keep the customer happy and it will pay didvidends in the future. But like all accidents ever body must have a share in the accident.
    Trucker(Whisel for denying ANY resposibility)................95% fault

    Contractor(you) ......................................................05% fault

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