Am I Covered? Slip and Fall Accidents
This is another installment of our series at IPG Insurance entitled “Am I Covered” where we go over different claims scenario’s and if your personal or business insurance would cover said claims.
You’re in your seventh month of operations after opening a small burger joint in the most happening part of your town. It has always been your dream to run an uber successful business, and now you’re in the middle of it. Glowing reviews are pouring in, the place is packed from lunch till closing time, and the profits are starting to roll in.
Then it hits.
In the middle of another busy lunch rush a customer is walking back from the bathrooms and goes elbows over heels in the middle of the dining room. They’re embarrassed, but one of your employees helps them get up and dust themselves off and they walk back to their table, then they leave.
You forget about it for a few weeks, until a letter from a lawyers office shows up in the mail. You, Your landlord, and your thriving business are all named in the lawsuit. You’re mind starts to race. AM I COVERED FOR THIS?
First off, lets just say you didn’t purchase any insurance when you opened. It was one of those things you “meant to get around to.”
Well be prepared to pay. According to industry surveys, the national average settlement amount for commercial business premise liability cases is $345,000. That’s a lot of hamburger sales! Adding some toppings, slip and fall cases can take anywhere from several months to several years to settle. Also of note, in Georgia, claimants have up to 4 years from the time of the accident to get a case started
The good news is that if you purchased a policy containing General Liability insurance this claim would be covered. Usually your insurance will cover legal fees, settlements, and medical payments if you and your business is found to be in the wrong. It’s at this point that you can write your agent a thank you letter.
What if an employee slips and falls?
No worries! If your business has a workers compensation policy, an employee slip and fall accident will be covered.
Employee slip and falls account for 85% of workers compensation claims, and also represent the primary cause of lost days at work, an average of 38 days per case.
What if someone slips and falls at my house?
If someone has a slip and fall injury, you may be covered under your standard homeowners policy, but there has to be some proof.
As in almost any type of personal injury case, a homeowner is only liable for a slip and fall accident on his/her property if the homeowner was negligent and his/her negligence was a cause of your accident. Simply because you fell on someone’s property does not mean that the homeowner was negligent. You had to have fallen because of some unsafe condition in the property. The liability portion of homeowner’s liability only covers damages for negligence. If, for example, you slipped because you spilled some water on the floor and didn’t wipe it up, the homeowner would not be liable, and his/her insurer would not be required to pay you any money under its liability coverage
So what can you do as a business owner/property owner to prevent these kind of things from happening?
GET INSURANCE No matter what industry your business is in a slip and fall accident can happen to you. Yes, even if you just own a building and are renting it out, or you own a parking lot, if there is ever the chance of another person setting foot on your property you need to be properly covered.
Conduct regular inspections The best way to prevent slip-and-fall lawsuits is to regularly inspect your business to understand which areas have the highest potential for risk. Routinely walk the premises to look for hazards – wet floors, uneven surfaces, cracks, etc. – that could trip a visitor or customer. Check stairwells to make sure no obstacles are blocking them, and keep walkways well-lit and slip-resistant, especially if they are exposed to rain, sleet, and snow.
Keep Records If you find a hazard that can’t be immediately fixed, place signs and warnings around it to alert visitors until you can have it repaired. Moveable signs and cones can help warn people about temporary hazards such as slippery floors or malfunctioning equipment
Install cameras A surveillance system can help you monitor your business for situations that may pose a risk, helping you to fix problem areas before an injury happens. A video camera system can also record accidents and help resolve claims, reducing the likelihood of false claims. Be sure to place cameras in strategic locations so that you can clearly identify involved parties and what occurred during the incident.
Follow up with the injured visitor If an accident happens on your property, be sure to follow up with the person to show that you care about his or her well-being and request that your insurance company follows up, too. In most cases, a little kindness and compassion go a long way.