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A slip and fall claim, due to rain (wow!), that cost one Home Owner $782,000.00! Do you have adequate insurance?

Jun 3, 2016

In a recent “Litigation & Law” Newsletter from Carter Capner Law, there was an article about a dinner guest who was awarded $782,000.00 for injuries sustained from a fall at a long standing friends home. The dinner guest slipped on a “damp” landing while leaving the home of her friends which resulted in the fracturing of her right ankle plus shoulder, hip and lower back injuries.

The home was in built in 1980 and the owners had tiled the entrance landing and installed an awning directly above it. On the evening of the incident, it had rained and the landing became wet from “blown in” rain. The friend had visited them on many occasions in the past and in all weather conditions and never had an issue until this particular evening. The owners claimed that they “had never noticed the danger nor had anyone fallen on the steps previously”. However, after the incident, they painted a “non-slip” coating across the landing as an inexpensive precaution to avoid similar incidents.

When it went to court, the trial judge ruled in favour of the homeowners, taking the view that the “potential” slipperiness ought to have been “obvious’ to the guest.

The decision was overturned on appeal on the basis that the dinner guest was standing on a dry floor before leaving and it should not have been assumed that she would have been aware of the danger. Regardless of the knowledge, the appeal court ruled that the owner should have been aware of the risk of harm and taken precautions by providing a matting or warning of the possible danger.

This clearly shows that, no matter what steps one takes to ensure that their property is safe from anyone injuring themselves, there will always be some form of exposure that can lead to the property owner being sued, be it from a friend, a family member or anyone else that comes on to their property.  So it is extremely important that homeowners have the right insurance in place and they speak to their Adviser about the potential exposure they have.

If this happened to you, would you know how your policy responds if you had to handle the claim yourself? Without adequate insurance, the owner would have had to pay the $782,000.00 themselves.

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