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Three ways of reducing your risk of fraudulent slip-and-fall claims

Slip and fall claims are those involving a person slipping (or tripping) and falling due to a hazard allegedly created by the negligence of the property owner or tenant.  Fraudulent slip and fall claims are driving up costs for insurers and resulting in increased premiums.  Three ways of reducing your risk of false slip-and-fall claims include:
  1. Installing video systems,
  2. keeping an eye out for obstructions on the property and
  3. asking claimants for all names they have used in the past
are among the techniques you can use to protect yoursel from fraudulent slip-and-fall claims.

This type of claim can be fraudulent when it is an orchestrated event where the individual creates a false and potentially dangerous scenario with the specific intent to stage a fall for monetary gain.
Analysis of a large number of questionable slip & fall claims by a noted U.S. organization noted several factors that could indicate the claim could be questionable. One possible indicator is the accident is not typical of those seen on a regular basis.

Other possible indicators could be:
  • The claimant threatens to go to an attorney if the claim is not quickly settled.
  • The claimant is a transient or out-of-towner on vacation.
  • The claimant lists their address as a post office box or hotel.
  • The presence of an “overly enthusiastic” witness at the scene; and
  • The claimant seeks treatment at a provider far from where they live.
Several examples of how a fraudulent claim could work include:
  • when two people enter a department store and split up. One person waits until they are alone, takes a bottle of liquid from a bag, pours it on the floor “falls” in the liquid. The second person then runs to the aid of the first person and calls for assistance while telling everyone they “witnessed” the fall.
  • a fraudster might also take advantage of a broken or obstructed sidewalk or stairway. “A person may claim to have tripped over a child’s toy left on a stairway and then sue the homeowner for damages.”
A high rate of questionable slip and fall claims are impacting commercial insurance policies. A majority of these claims are occurring at retail stores, parking lots, or restaurants and has led to increased insurance premiums and greater difficulty for these types of business finding insurance coverage.
It helps prevent claims if business owners and homeowners keep common areas clear of any hazards that could result in a fall. In retail stores, aggressive employee interaction with customers will make it more difficult for scammers to set up an accident.

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