Posted by Gary Burger on February 16, 2017 in Premises Liability
My name’s Gary Burger. I’m with Burger Law. We just finished the settlement of a case, Sally Anderson v. Centene Corporation, and at the beginning of that slip and fall case if you can see it on the video I received a letter in November of 2014 saying that the defendant’s investigation does not indicate any negligence on the part of their insured. There is no tripping hazard or another impediment that would contribute to my client’s slip and fall. Then I went, and I looked at the videotape, and then the claims adjuster from Zurich Insurance told me, “I understand you’ve had a chance to review the video. Will your client drop this claim or does she intend to proceed?” These are the letters. We proceeded, we filed suit, we took depositions, and we showed that at the Centene Auditorium – where my client was – at the end of the rows there was a gap between the seats and the steps, and I took the deposition of the designee of Centene and he admitted that there shouldn’t be a step, that there shouldn’t be a gap between the step and the seat, that it was a safety concern, and there was some going back and forth saying that it was for cosmetic purposes rather than safety. I asked, “What’s more important, safety or cosmetic?” And he said safety, and he’s right, and after we took those depositions and proved liability in the case, we were able to settle the case for $125,000 where my client had less than $10,000 in paid medical expenses. She did have a serious injury. She had a tibia and fibula fracture and above her ankle that required surgery, but we were able to aggressively litigate it.
So, a couple of lessons from this case is, just because the claims adjuster denies the claim doesn’t mean that’s true or that should be relied on. I’ve written a book on my website about questions to ask claims adjusters and the different tactics that insurance companies use to deny slip and fall claims. Insurance companies are often my best source of business because they improvidently deny claims when they shouldn’t. My client wasn’t looking to litigate and take depositions. She was trying to resolve the case.
The second thing is that videotapes don’t always help or get rid of a case. Sometimes they do, but in this case, the defendant was relying on the videotape because my client fell. She walked to the end of the row and then she fell over. What happened was her foot slid off, went into the gap between the step and the seat, causing her to fall and causing that high ankle fracture. It makes my ankle hurt just talking about it. But that did not prove that she wasn’t negligent and then she walked off, and they tried to say, “Listen, she walked off. She wasn’t really hurt.” She was hurt. She had immediate care, immediate surgery, terrible problems from that. So, those are some of the lessons.
So, even if an insurer or company denies liability, don’t rest on that. Call a lawyer like me, Gary Burger at Burger Law, 314-542-2222. For slip, trip and falls, or premises liability cases, there’s a dangerous condition on that property, they didn’t remedy it, and my client got hurt.
Interestingly, because of this suit, Centene was actually responsible. They went in. They didn’t listen to the insurance company. They went in, and they repaired that. They got a carpenter in. They filled in this gap between the seats and the steps with wood, and then they re-carpeted the area to eliminate the safety hazard, so kudos to them for being a responsible company.
I was just happy that because of the suit and the way we pursued this, we were able to persuade them of the wisdom of our position, and we did so. So, we’re happy to get a full 100% recovery for our client Sally. We are happy to litigate and aggressively pursue the case. We’re happy to get a subsequent remedial measure by Centene to cure this defect, so no one’s going to have this problem in the future. We’re happy to get a 100% recovery for our client.
If you have any questions or need a slip and fall lawyer to file your claim, visit us at www.burgerlaw.com or call us. Thank you.