Bergman Dacey Goldsmith


Fake slip-and-fall claims costly to companies

Business owners, unfortunately, can find themselves the target of unscrupulous customers and even employees who fake a slip-and-fall in order to make a claim and cash out. It's actually fairly easy for someone to fake a fall and injuries — especially if this is not the first time that they have done it.

Vulnerable businesses should do all they can to mitigate or disprove such fraudulent claims that only drive profits down and increase the costs of doing business in the community. Below are some things of which business owners should be aware.

Eliminate opportunities for fake claims

A director of special investigations for a national insurance company stated that "people who . . . attempt insurance fraud see a wet floor or a grape on the floor as an opportunity." In fact, he shockingly added that some "people . . . make a . . . living at it."

No opportunities? Watch for manufactured ones

Perhaps the most complicit of all are fraud artists who set up the scenario where they fake a slip-and-fall. In a grocery store, for instance, it could be shoppers working in tandem wherein one casually spills a drink. Then, the other following a short distance behind steps on the wet spot, fakes a slip and claims to be injured.

Stopping the fraud before it happens

A good surveillance system is worth its weight in gold. It can deter fraudsters from targeting your business with fake claims of slip-and-falls or trip-and-falls. Posting a sign at the entrance that the area is under video and audio surveillance should be sufficient warning. The lawbreakers will know then to take their larceny elsewhere to play out.

But that is not all that business owners can do to avoid costly litigation. Below are some suggestions for business owners to reduce the number and frequency of slip-and-fall claims:

  • Keep customer and employee areas free of debris and tripping hazards
  • Floors should be swept and mopped frequently
  • Never allow puddles to remain on the floor
  • Repair tripping hazards like damaged sidewalks and loose floor tiles
  • Provide handrails for all staircases

Prevention efforts should also be documented by employees. All maintenance and cleaning activities should be logged in daily, with the person who performed the tasks signing off on each with the date and time duly noted.

Maintain a presence in the store

It's much harder to fake a slip-and-fall claim if the manager or business owner is present and visible on the premises. You don't want to hound your customers or micromanage employees, but your visible presence can discourage fraudsters from targeting your business.

Seek legal guidance after a claim

You may think that you can settle the claim on your own, but that could only encourage others to launch their own fraudulent claims for faked injuries. Instead, advise your counsel of record of the complaint and heed their advice.

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