If you think something can go wrong with a service you are providing, you can pretty well guarantee it will. At a certain point, when you do something enough times, you are going to run out of luck, but how should you defend yourself against the worst case scenario? That is what this lawn care business owner was concerned with when he wrote on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum “I’m currently taking my commercial pesticide exam in two weeks and want to know if anyone has encountered a homeowner who complained that their animal or family member got sick or worse AFTER you applied chemicals to their lawn? If so, does anyone use a letter taking the liability away from you?”
A second lawn care business owner wrote “I personally have never used any kind of indemnity letter for this kind of service. Sure your lawyer could easily draw one up for you, if you really wanted it.
I have had one or two customers over the last 13 years and hundreds of homes I maintained over that time complain that our fertilizer gave their dogs a rash. This was though a very small percentage. Fertilizer and normal lawn chemicals like 2,4-D or Roundup have a super low toxicity rating for animals, including humans.
I would think any indemnity letter would actually work AGAINST you when it came to sales, if you tried to use it. Imagine for a moment the following conversation;
You: “Before we begin, I need to explain that I will be applying chemicals to your landscape when I come and you need to sign this document saying you won’t hold me or my company responsible if your pets or kids are harmed in any way by the chemicals. They are ….”
Customer: “Hold on a minute! Just exactly what kind of chemicals are you talking about? And why would they harm my kids and dogs?? How strong are these chemicals? I don’t want to sign that! And just let you poison my dog and kids with these harmful chemicals! Um. I’m gonna have to talk to my husband about this and get back to you…”
The next day….
Customer: “You know what? We decided to go with another company. Thanks for your bid, though…..”
And you lost a job because you made the customer worried about something that isn’t really even a big issue.
Before you make your final decision on this, talk to your attorney. From what I have had explained to me in the past, these indemnity letters really don’t protect you anyway. If you are negligent, you’re negligent. That’s all the court cares about. They’ll throw that signed letter right out the window if they feel you’ve been negligent.
You gotta take all of this into consideration before you start offering the service. If you are this concerned about a problem occurring and feel it just might happen, maybe you should be looking to offer other services instead.”