If you slip, fall, and suffer injuries at a private residence, then the homeowner is potentially liable. Homeowner’s insurance typically comes in two tiers: liability and medical.
With homeowner’s liability coverage, the same rules apply that do with any other type of personal injury. The homeowner must have been negligent and their negligence must have caused your injuries. With the medical coverage though, the homeowner doesn’t need to be negligent in order for the insurance company to pay for your medical expenses.
How to Determine if the Property Owner has Homeowner’s Insurance
Homeowner’s insurance is required by most mortgage companies, so if you know the owner is in the process of buying the home, they probably have insurance. If you’re uncertain whether they have a mortgage or insurance coverage, the only way to know for sure is to ask.
Some homeowner’s may be hesitant to provide contact information for their insurance company. They may be afraid of losing their coverage. If an owner won’t give you the information, the only way to get it is to sue.
Dealing with the Homeowner’s Insurance
You should file with the insurance company as soon as possible after your injuries to ensure your claim is taken seriously. An insurance adjuster will be assigned to your claim and he or she will become the primary contact and decision maker moving forward.
There are several items the insurance company needs to process your claim. These include:
- A written statement about the accident
- Medical records, bills, and treatment information
- Documentation related to lost work time and lost wages
The goal of the insurance adjuster is to settle your claim. If the offer is too low and you cannot agree on a settlement, then your only recourse for getting fair compensation is to sue the homeowner.
With homeowner’s insurance medical coverage, the owner may only have $5,000 or $10,000 worth of coverage. The insurance company will only pay medical bills up to the amount of coverage the homeowner has. In order for you to recover additional damages through the homeowner’s liability coverage, negligence must be proven. You will also need to present the claims adjuster with a demand letter outlining how the homeowner was negligent and that his or her negligence caused your injuries.
Common Types of Residential Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can happen for any number of reasons, but some causes are more common than others, including:
- Carpeting, Rugs, and Other Flooring – worn, frayed, or improperly secured rugs and carpets can trip you up. Rugs that are placed without non-slip pads beneath them can also slip out of place underfoot and cause you to fall. Hardwood, laminate, and tile floors may be slick or wet and cause you to lose your footing.
- Stairs – indoor and outdoor stairs can be hazardous for a variety of reasons, including spills on the stairs, worn or torn stair coverings, and the lack or misplacement of handrails. Staircases may also not be properly constructed, with uneven stairs or steps that are too shallow, narrow, or deep.
- Sidewalks and Driveways – sidewalks and driveways that are in disrepair may have cracks, holes, or other uneven surfaces. Ice, snow, and water that builds up on driveways and sidewalks also present hazards that can result in visitor injuries.
How a Lawyer can Help When Dealing with Homeowner’s Insurance
If a homeowner refuses to provide contact information for his or her insurance company, you’ll need a lawyer to file a lawsuit, if you intend to pursue compensation for your injuries. You will also need an attorney if a fair settlement can’t be reached with the insurance adjuster and you need to sue.
A lawyer’s assistance may prevent the need to sue in both of these scenarios. An attorney may be able to convince the homeowner to share insurance information with you and may also be able to negotiate a more positive settlement for you.
An attorney can also protect your interest when you speak with the insurance adjuster, acting as intermediary or negotiator. They can help you compose a compelling statement about your injuries. If you must prove negligence in order to pull the homeowner’s liability coverage into play, you’ll may need the assistance of an attorney in composing a winning demand letter as well.