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Slip and Fall Claim

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by CVLG, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. CVLG

    CVLG Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    I have been plowing snow for 7 yrs and have never had a problem. I just was notified by a company that subs a snow removal account to me. that someone filed a slip and fall claim. the company pays me on a per push basis and for me to shovel sidewalks and ice melt. I plowed and shoveled sidewalks as well as ice melt early a.m. and than went back and spread ice melt at 8:05 p.m. the person claims they slipped at 9:40 pm. Has anyone had anything like this happen? what were the results? please let me know.
  2. hoskm01

    hoskm01 Senior Member
    from AZ
    Messages: 475

    What does your contract say? Did you perform within the specs of your contract? If your actions were reasonable and "normal" given the conditions, you'll have a better chance of fighting it.

    Let your insurance company handle it. What were/are the damages? Hoping your coverage is significant.
  3. CVLG

    CVLG Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    contractor supplied contract and does not specify i need to do anything unless 1" of accumulation of snow, than after handcrew shovels must apply ice melt. At time there had been now snow accumulations.
  4. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Who was the claim filed with, the property owners insurance? The laws very from state to state, when it comes to these matters. In Ohio, persons are to take care to protect themselves, when conditions exist. In other words, they see snow, then they assume the risk and make the decision to walk on it. Doesn't mean they can't or won't try to sue, just that they probably won't win a judgment in their favor. The insurance companies, on the other hand just want to settle as quickly as possible...but would always like to blame a third party, and try to make that other party pay for the damages.

    I have been doing commercial since the mid 80's, until the last three years, I have never had a problem. It seems now that I get at least one a year. Unless I actually get sued, these claims will go nowhere with me. My insurance is high enough as it is, can't imagine where my rates would be if I always allowed the property owners insurance to walk all over my insurance. I honestly wouldn't sweat it too much, because if every slip and fall got paid...everybody would be falling, and in times like these, they probably will start falling a lot more. Unless I actually created a hazard, then I'm not paying and neither is my insurance. Tell them that's life, so deal with it. If they slip and fall on their own driveway at home, are they going to sue their own homeowners insurance?

    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,362

    These are the same people that tip toed to their car across their glazed over driveway, cleaned off an 8" spot on the windshield, drove 80mph drinking coffee and eating a donut on the way to work. They get out of their car and proceed to find the only wet spot in the lot and land on their @ss.
  6. AC2717

    AC2717 Senior Member
    Messages: 690

    Well it all depends, what does your contract with the company that subs to you on who would be responsible. What does their contract say with the person that gave them the contract to do that property. YOu have to start there to find out who is responsible.

    If you have no contract with the company you are subbing for you could still be responsible but they would have to proove that they documented to you that you would be responsible.

    The property owner, if there is a property manager, the main company with the contract, and you could all be responsible, that is the way that it works.

    Have to have a discovery period on the claim and in the mean time you have to find out this information above that I just mentioned.

    Even though you preformed within the specs of your contract does not indemnify you from the slip and fall. The best thing is to put yoru insurance company on notice, but make sure they do a great deal of discovery about the claim and all the contracts involved. A simple "additional insured" status or lack there of on yoru contracts if any in place can get this over with real quick.

    I work in the insurnace industry and have for some years, and deal with this stuff, feel free to PM me if you would like to discuss further. Usually you find out weeks, even months after something happens. Not this quick, something is up
  7. AC2717

    AC2717 Senior Member
    Messages: 690

    Funny you say this:
    Tell them that's life, so deal with it. If they slip and fall on their own driveway at home, are they going to sue their own homeowners insurance?
    Becuase people actually do, and you can. Granted have fun getting insurance in a standard market after this, but you can alwys get insurance, the only difference is the premium you pay
  8. Camden

    Camden PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,604

    You have to be negligent in some way. Sounds to me like you made every reasonable attempt to prevent an accident from occurring. That's not to say that this person won't end up with some cash because insurance companies will just settle instead of wasting their time by going to court.
  9. AC2717

    AC2717 Senior Member
    Messages: 690

    When you are talking negligent, you will have to refer to the state laws, for example. Here in MA, all they have to prove is that you were 1% at fault in order for you to be responsible

    Can you jump to conclusions yet, and insurance companies are cracking down on what they pay out or settle due to drastic changes in the market place and the economy.

    Step one: Document your operation for that day, and if you can note witnesses that can verify conditions
    Step two: Check your contracts, all the while be in contact with your agent and insurance carrier

    Step 3: let the insurance company work it, it is what you pay them for
  10. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    Please clarify who you are working for......no need to name them.

    Are you working for a broker, or are you working for a contractor who actually can and does service their other sites?

    I've never involved one of our subs in a slip and fall.....we've been though many throughout the years. Causing property damage is quite another story.....you own that one.

    You may have more culpability if you've indemnified a broker and you alone solely service this property.

    Either way don't sweat it as long as you've kept accurate documentation. The burden of proof is on the one who sues you.....in a nutshell they must prove that you were aware of the unsafe and adverse conditions and either did not perform to specifications, or failed to do anything about the said conditions. If you have never been deposed you are in for a learning lesson.

    If your insurance carrier settles the suite....you will have no say in the matter. It's frustrating but that's the way it goes. Sometimes they see fit to throw a few, or many grand at it to make it go away because it does make sense for them to fight it.
  11. ohchit

    ohchit Member
    Messages: 32

    You forgot talking on the phone and wearing dress shoes that have a slick bottom. We have had two claims in the last three years and both were at the same apt.complex. Our Ins. agent said that with the economy the way it is they are receiving alot more this year. Dont fight it you wont win the scum bags always seem to get the cash.
  12. Silentroo

    Silentroo Senior Member
    Messages: 147

    Here is the simple truth.

    1. You will either win or lose. If you do not have cash to cover your deductible. Start saving. You are possibility 1-2 years from any type of Judgment. So TAKE GOOD NOTES ON WHAT YOU DID, TIMES AND QUANTITIES!!!!!! Meaning you did not spread salt, you spread 50lbs of Calcium Chloride per 100 square feet. (or what you applied.) 10 months from now you may not remember Get weather reports for the day if possible for your records. ALSO write down any instructions the company gave you. Keep route logs or training type materials you might have. Their insurance company will attempt to claim you are an independent contractor action 100% on your own. Note things such as if they check your work, if they call you out, change your route and so on. Anything out of the ordinary should be noted. Always as a sub keep a log of calls!!!1 meaning if they call at 8:02 for salt because it is icy LOG IT. If you can prove you are responding to their request for service your liability can be limited.

    2. You need to notify your insurance company. If the accident happens today and you were notified get photos if you can. Also Make sure the site is safe. If possible take a look at the site the next day at a similar time as well. (are their shadows? Puddles?) Sounds like it is further out than that,

    3. This is a legal situation not a customer service issue!!!!! Be careful what you say. We all like to say I'm sorry, and we all like to reassure our customers.... However there is liability to guessing on legal advice. Talk to a lawyer. You may have worked for this company for 7 years, Their insurance company will not care. They are looking to not pay.

    Once you have been through one of these you begin to understand what you need to keep and what is not important.
  13. AC2717

    AC2717 Senior Member
    Messages: 690

    I Have to disagree on talking to a lawyer, by paying insured your give them the right to defense.
    The only problem I see with these comments, although good insight, is that it is saying tha tyour insurance company will leave you out in the cold, that is simply not the case, and you can argue it to you die. The best thing is to be co-oparative with your insurance company, and them only. Do not speak to anyone unless they tell you and are possibly present.

    Insurance companies are not out to get you, like it is widely thought.
  14. Silentroo

    Silentroo Senior Member
    Messages: 147

    Trust me, If you have a working relationship with a lawyer, it is money well spent, Especially in a first time case. They will more than make up for any advice they give. For this guy a 20 minute conversation with an average attorney would quickly put his mind at ease on many issues.

    Also if it is recent ASK IF THERE ARE SURVEILLANCE tapes available of the lot. These often get taped over weekly or monthly. Sometimes the neighbors cameras cover the lot as well. Might help prove your point when 150 people walk with no issue.....

    One other point.

    Often I know about a slip and fall the day it happens. One time I even beat the Ambulance to the site (about 6 blocks from my office.) As a contractor you will often get a call about an issue on their site. There is no way of knowing at that point if you are going to be involved in an action, However it is best to assume you are. Just because you know that there was a slip and fall with in days does not mean something is up. If it is filed with in a day or so there probably will be a settlement offer as well.

    One funny note.

    My daughter got pushed down by her brother in our house and broke her collar bone. We got a statement from our health insurance company that they wanted our home owners information so they could see if they would be willing to cover the accident...... I was discussing it with my attorney (was there for another matter) and he 1/2 jokingly mentioned we could probably sue my son and name the home owners policy and get medical plus pain and suffering.....
  15. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    I am told that this is becoming more common... it's called swapping.

    One insurance company"s customer is basically suing another insurance company who has a customer suing the original company. They each offer a $5k settlement to go away and it is a wash.
  16. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,613

    Do not get your own lawyer unless you are re-leaving the insurance company of their duties. Tell your insurance company that you do not authorize any form of settlement with out your permission otherwise they will pay out with out concern for you or what is right. The insurance companies will only fight big ticket items - simply not cost effective to fight 10k-50k range.

    Document everything. Clear contracts - no good-ol-boy handshake. Even your mother will sue you these days.
  17. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    X2 i agree with the whole post, but this part is very important. not just that you did it....but quantity.....