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Slip and Fall Lawsuits

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Theshoemaker, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. Theshoemaker

    Theshoemaker Senior Member
    Messages: 210

    Hello! I just have a quick hypothetical question..
    Ok, say a contractor gets the snow/salt for a shopping center and somebody slips and falls.... Say you were to do everything within your powers ( perform services in timely fashion, log site info and conditions, etc.. But what if something still happens? I know the victim would proably name: Owner of shopping center, management company (if applicable) and most likely you and your insurance company in the lawsuit. Ok, i get it up to this part.. So say you go back and forth to court and you successfully prove you fulfilled your obligations and you aren't held liable.. Who pays all the lawyer/legal costs on your end? If your insurance company does, would the insurance company hold that against you, even if it was proven that you were not at fault?

    Thanks in Advance
  2. On a Call

    On a Call PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,077

    Good question...glad to not have that experience.
  3. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    The answer is..... It depends on your insurance co.

    The reason we have these GL policies is to have our company operations covered in a lawsit. That being said, it most likely wont cover all your expenses, so you might have to write off what comes out of pocket. There are folks here who have lived the scenario you desccribed above, and its been a year or two past, and they're waiting for the ball to drop (cancellation) or increase in premiums. Hasnt happened .....yet

    Im sure other here were dropped upon renewal....

    So. ...again. Its dependent on the company you're insured by, the number of claims...and betting dollars to donuts....the state in which you reside.
  4. chesterlawn

    chesterlawn Member
    Messages: 87

    I was involved in a tree job lawsuit, guess it would be the same. It was a million dollar lawsuit where it wasn't my job, but I was there helping and I had insurance, so I was named in the suit. My insurance company assigned me a lawyer and they later, before trial, bought out of the suit for $15.000. I was done, no cost to me but they did drop me and raised my rates if I wanted to go back with them. I was very grateful for their help but got insurance cheaper through another company.
  5. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    That is a question for your insurance agent, not the internet.
  6. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    First of all..I wouldn't wish that upon anyone that does work in a responsible manner. I went through the EXACT scenario you described. Everyone gets drug into the case. The lady filed the suit literally 2 days before the 5 year statute ran out. The case went on for another 3 years. One scary thing about a suit is even though your insurance company will represent you , you will most likely get a letter saying they only represent to a certain amount and you may want to retain your own attorney in the event the suit is settled for more money. I have AmFam, they did NOT hold the case against me. I was eventually dismissed from the case because there was no reasonable expectation of service under my particular circumstances. My attorneys and I knew we had an almost excellent case but I think AmFam still tried to offer a settlement which I believe was refused. (I never asked if the offer was presented).
  7. northernsweeper

    northernsweeper Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    I agree with framer. How can anyone on here know what your insurance company will do? I had a slip and fall at a big box retailer I serviced. She fell on the sidewalk, right outside the door. My contract stated that store personel was responsible for sidewalks during business hours. Didn't matter. The big box denied liability. The National denied liability. My insurance company denied my liability. Lawyers flew in from all over the country. It was a zoo. Because my insurance denied my liability, the national with held over 20,000 they owed me, and dropped my next seasons contracts.After 2 years I was forced into bankruptcy. After 4 years it finally went before a judge. He took one look at it, said I was not liable, released me from the lawsuit, and ordered the national to pay me. by that time it was to late to do me any good. The bankruptcy administrator got the money. My insurance company paid for my defense, but they dropped me. As I write this, my equipment is idle, waiting for the bank to come take it back. Crazy world we live in.
  8. NBI Lawn

    NBI Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,797

    I am a commercial lines insurance agent but this question is best suited for YOUR agent as all companies are different. That being said it could come down to who is listed as an additional insured.
  9. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,920

    Sorry to hear about the bad luck on that one. I can't imagine having a little over 20K in unpaid services put me into bankruptcy. Would things get tighter, for sure. But bankruptcy, no way. Did you already have some kind of financial issues before that? Or were there complications of this that caused it?

    No matter what, it sucks to see someone lose their business when they more than likely are the one that was out busting their ass every day to build it.

    Slip and fall is the biggest bunch of ******** out there, for the snow and ice industry. It's winter, be careful. If you're clumsy or stupid, you're going to get hurt. Why should we, the contractors, be held liable for people's stupidity??
  10. Theshoemaker

    Theshoemaker Senior Member
    Messages: 210

    It was just a topic for general discussion.. I'm not seeking legal guidance or any sort of advice. The scenario came into my head and I was just trying to see if anyone else has gone through anything similar before
  11. Theshoemaker

    Theshoemaker Senior Member
    Messages: 210

    That's more or less what I figured.. Sorry you had to go through that.
  12. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    If all of us went out and did the very best we could at any location, we would all have some spot on the parking lot that still had snow or ice...that is the most frustrating thing about slip and falls to me.
    on a side note NBI..if your an agent , are you seeing a change in the way slip and falls are handled now? ie: not as easy to sue over?
  13. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    That my friend sucks big yonkers, and if would happen to me, you just might see me on CNN.

    This country needs major tort reform.
  14. northernsweeper

    northernsweeper Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    It was a long slow, drawn out death. It took me six years to be over 100,000 in work. I thought I was finally on an even keel, and life would be good(able to pay bills and even bank some money).The first good year, is the year the slip and fall came. My summer income was large lot, road and industrial sweeping. Without payment for winter work, everything was out of pocket. No money for equipment upgrades and repairs on the sweeper, I lost my best sweep jobs. It just went downhill from there. One of the things she claimed in the lawsuit was carpel tunnel on her wrist. I try not to think to much about it anymore. It is what it is. Life throws us some curveballs sometimes. The trick, is to never give up.....I hope.
  15. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,920

    Makes perfect sense. 20K in no payment with 100K gross a year. Yep, that'll kill you unless you've got deep pockets coming into growing the business.

    Sorry for the loss, that's ******. Wouldn't wish it on anyone. Best of luck to you in the future!
  16. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Im not sure this would make a differance, but dont agree to ZERO TOLERANCE accounts... I think that is the biggest joke in this business, especially in areas like mine. Make it clear that the services you provide cannot guarentee 100% clear/wet pavement 100% of the time in your contract. Althought ZERO TOLERANCE can be a goal for your contracts, things happen... It snows non stop for 24 hours, temps fall below salt/chemical working temps, mechanical equipment failure, ect...ect...ect... At least you would have ground to stand on if a slip and fall law suit did happen...
  17. CHPL

    CHPL Member
    Messages: 82

    Remember usually the one suing you didn't sign a contract with you.
    Regardless of wording on a contract, if they sue it is stress.
    As seen above it can be the beginning of the end.

    The key is to document everything you do or see on a site.
    Documenting what was done and when with pictures.
  18. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    100% agree. And something to remember about these lawsuits, the big money comes from lawyers fee's and litigation. I recommend an Umbrella to ALL of my clients - they are fairly inexpensive and provide just that much more protection.
  19. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Ive never been in that situation so I cant speek from experiance. Im sure there are differant laws for every state. I have been made aware of 1 silp and fall in all the years of pushing snow. Nothing ever came of it. The owner of the property (a liquor store) called and said someone fell in his parking lot.

    Im sure that all named in any law suit would be pointing fingers, but wouldn't it be easy enough for the contractor to say "I have a signed contract from the owner of the property stating they understood that we do not gaurentee 100% clear/wet pavement conditions". Is it a get me out of court free card? nope. Do I still have to state my case? yep. I sleep pretty good at night knowing that the chances of a law suit are minimal for me. Of course, I wouldn't send out contracts with out first having them approved by the attorney...
  20. lawnlandscape

    lawnlandscape Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    I agree with the people that said ask your insurance agent, but this (above) is a pretty good response.