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insurance claim filed against us

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by cutntrim, Jun 12, 2001.

  1. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    Today when we picked up our mail we got a nasty surprise. Here it is the middle of June and we get a letter from an insurance adjuster saying that a guy slipped and fell on some ice at one of our accounts in January. He's filed an insurance claim due to undisclosed (to us) injury suffered from the fall. Since the restaurant he fell at has us listed as their snow contractor the claim is against us. The letter advised us to "let your liability insurer know, if you have one".

    Obviously we have one, but I don't relish the thought of having to use them. Have any of you had a claim filed against you? Or know of someone who has? What's the usual order of events for something like this? My partner checked our log and we did no salting anywhere on the date in question. We'll have to check our books (in one of the trucks) to see if we did any plowing. If we did neither then I don't know what the hell he slipped on.

    If any of you have been unfortunate enough to have experienced this then please let me know what I might expect. I know most of you guys are in the States so obviously there are differences in the way the system works. If any fellow canadian guys also have some insight about this stuff let me hear it.

    Thanks guys,

  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Dave - try searching the subject "lawsuit". There are a couple of posts listed with the word "lawsuit" specifically in the subject that look like they are very similar to your situation. The first was by CMerLand and then the last post listed. From reading briefly, it boils down to documentation. Did you have a contract? Did it have any provision for liability?
  3. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    This exact scenario was discussed at SIMA/Denver. Sleazeball runs to a lawyer instead of talking to the building owner/tenant. Lawyer sits on it for several months and then whacks a lawsuit on ya. With no immediate notification of an injury you have no opportunity to get pictures of actual site conditions or talk to any possible witnesses.
  4. Mike Nelson

    Mike Nelson Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Alan's exactly right only it is Mr.Sleazeball.

    That is why most of us belong to SIMA so we can write contracts that protect us from this B.S.

    We had one delivered 2 years later,even know we keep excellent records sometimes it is cheaper for the insurance company to settle.Now nothing makes me madder than this.

    Good Luck
  5. Winterworks

    Winterworks PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 97

    Sorry to hear about that Dave, but thats part of the business we are in. I would definately advise your insurance company, thats why you have it. Do you log books list any conditions or service for properties nearby on the date in question. Or the dates prior? Gather as much evidence as to the weather, area conditions etc. as you can, even from recollection. Your insurance company can assist you. Good luck, Pat
  6. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    Hi Dave - sorry to hear. My wife owns a discovery and transcription business, and slip and falls are probably 15% of the volume that comes through the office. On the positive side, be glad you are not a municipality. Our roads forman in town here is the most 'discovered' person in the lawsuit community - he is in the office at least once a week and has his own coffee cup there.

    As mentioned above, documentation is key. The intent and interpretation of the original contract will be studied in detail, as well as the records of the sevice performed in general through the course of the winter, and ofcourse, specifically on the date in question.

    Gather up all your info from your truck(s) and sort and file them. Gather the driver's logs and initial thoughts of your drivers. Call the weather people for a rundown of the weather before, during and after - that may trigger your memory too.

    Get your insurance company involved - they will be the ones to engage a lawyer to defend themselves against a claim. This is a pretty common suit (particularly for municipalities) and there are lawyers either on staff or retained by all insurance companies to deal with this. I suspect you will be co-named with the eatery, and that relationship will be of interest to.

    Good luck.
  7. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,222

    I think that every one is a target for that as long as there are courts and insurance agencies willing to pay off jerks .No one can be somewhere 24 hrs a day to make a lot fool proof that there will be not anything that will make some one fall.If some one waited this long then you you know it's a B** S*** claim.You should sue him for not bringing thia to the store or your atention earlier to make sure no one else fell.You gotta remember today you work to pay for Insurance,taxes, morgage,electric gas,and can I stress taxes and insurance again.And by the time your done paying the bills you might have enough money to spend on youself. But first you must see how many witness he has how do you know that he slipped there??And stress the point of summiting a claim in the middle of the summer to the judge if you go to court with it.Good luck
  8. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248


    Thanks for the replies. By the way, we ARE members of SIMA, have been for a year. I would have posted on the SIMA board but I figured that most guys still use this one instead.

    We have log records for the winter. My partner, my dad, my brother-in-law, and me are the only drivers. All salting is done by me and my partner.

    We also do another restaurant directly across the street from this one. January 26th is the date of the claim. We plowed 6in. of snow on the 7th, and had nothing more 'till the 29th, when we salted all of our properties. So on the date in question, we must not have had any precip since we get paid PER APPLICATION for salting, and therefor are chomping at the bit to salt whenever we get a chance.

    We traded phone messages with the claims adjuster that served us the notice but haven't yet gotten a chance to speak directly with him. That will hopefully happen tomorrow.

    We'll be notifying our insurance carrier tomorrow as well. We carry 2 million liability with them.

    The "problem" is that this restaurant (American owned and afraid of lawsuits) added an addendum to our contract absolving them of all liability in the event something like this comes up. This is the only time EVER we've received an amended contract and like a couple of green rookies we signed it. I'm sure our insurance company will be thrilled.

    Anyway, I'll be chasing down weather records from Environment Canada tomorrow.

    The saga continues...
  9. nsmilligan

    nsmilligan PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 704

    Don't be afraid to call or insurance company, that's why you pay them the big bucks! It's time for them to show you what kind of service they provide. I had a claim in 1999, and MY insurance adjuster photocopied my log book, took a statement, and that's the last I heard of it. I do know the he was awful happy I keep detailed records.
    Remember YOUR insurance company is working for YOU, because if you lose they lose. Get them involed ASAP, I'm sure Mr. Scumbag is counting on you not having any written records and not being able to provide your insurer with anything to mount a defence.


    PS See you answered while I was posting, I'd talk to MY insurer before talking to claimants adjuster, let them do the talking for you, they're the experts on dealing with claims!
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2001
  10. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Ditto nsmilligan about talking to their claims adjuster. I had my first claim in 2000 and had 1st contact with the "enemy" adjuster. Luckily I had only gotten some details from them & told them I would be forwarding the info to my ins. company. The first thing my insurance company told me was not to talk to anyone, as I am not an expert in litigation & I might end up inadvertently saying something wrong that would hurt my case. This makes sense to me. I pay them for their expertise in this type of stuff.
    PS The SIMA forum is alive & well if members want to post there for more detailed help ;)