Let’s say you’re visiting a friend, family member, or neighbor, and you’re injured on their property through no fault of your own. Who will pay for your medical bills?
More often than not, such compensation will come from their homeowner’s insurance policy; however, receiving payment is sometimes easier said than done.
In this article, we’ll unpack the types of insurance that could cover your injuries, potential obstacles you could face during the claims process, and how a Dallas slip and fall attorney can help you get the full compensation you deserve.
First Things First—Does the Homeowner Even Have Insurance?
If you want to file a claim for your slip and fall injuries, you’ll obviously need to know if the property owner has homeowners insurance. Luckily, almost every homeowner with a mortgage has insurance, because the mortgage companies require it. However, if the homeowner paid off their mortgage or purchased the property without a mortgage (which is pretty rare), it’s possible that they might not have homeowners insurance.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a database or a registry to verify if someone has insurance or not. The only way to figure out if the property owner has coverage is to ask them.
If the owner does have homeowners insurance, proceed with a slip and fall claim. If not, consult with a Dallas slip and fall attorney about how you can hold the homeowner responsible for your injuries. In some cases, the homeowner can pay for losses out of pocket. In others, your lawyer may have to search for a third party, such as a subcontractor or product manufacturer, to hold accountable instead. Remember, a property owner is only responsible for medical bills if they were negligent. But, sometimes they have a type of coverage called medical payments coverage, which applies regardless of fault.
Report the Injury As Soon As Possible
If you find out the owner has homeowners insurance, you should report the injury as soon as possible. If you wait too long to report the claim, the insurance company might suspect that your claim is fraudulent, which will most certainly make receiving compensation more difficult.
Pitfalls to Watch Out for When Talking to the Insurer
Slip and fall claims work in the same way that car accidents and other personal injury claims work. Once you report the claim to the insurance company, they’ll assign an adjuster to handle your case.
The adjuster will reach out to the homeowner and then contact you to hear your side of the story. They’ll most likely ask you to give a recorded statement and will want to see the documentation of your medical bills and any other injury-related expenses.
This is where you should step back and consider seeking assistance from a personal injury attorney.
The adjuster might seem friendly and concerned, but remember, insurance companies aren’t profitable because they love to pay out on claims. They’ll use this opportunity to find something they can use against you.
A Dallas slip and fall attorney can help you calculate your immediate and long-term medical expenses, as well as negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
What Types of Insurance Coverage Might Be Available
Medical Payment Coverage
Accidents happen, and insurance companies understand that it’s nearly impossible for homeowners to have an injury-free premise. For that reason, many insurance companies offer med pay to cover medical bills up to a certain amount, whether or not the homeowner was at fault for the injury.
Most insurers only require proof that an injury occurred, and not who was liable. Because the burden of proof is low, coverage limits are also low. Most homeowners have between $5,000 to $10,000 worth of med pay coverage, but the limits could be lower or higher depending on their policy. You simply send your bills to the adjuster for reimbursement until the med pay limit is reached.
Medical payment coverage can cover immediate medical bills, including:
- EMT and ambulance fees
- Hospital visits and stays
- Doctor visits
- Surgery and X-rays
- Professional nursing services and care
Negligence and Liability Coverage
According to Texas law, property owners must make a reasonable effort to maintain a safe environment for visitors. Liability coverage will only kick in if the homeowner was negligent in their responsibility to keep the property safe for visitors.
So, If you fell because you were walking up some stairs while looking at your phone, you will not be entitled to payments. Your injuries must be the direct result of an unreasonably unsafe condition that the homeowner failed to correct. On the other hand, if you slipped on water that was caused by an ongoing ceiling leak that they failed to repair, they could be held liable.
A Note On Comparative Negligence
If you’re filing a slip and fall claim or lawsuit, you can bet that the other party is going to try to prove you were partially or entirely at fault for the accident. Texas follows a “modified comparative negligence” rule, which means any damages award you receive will be reduced according to the percentage of your fault.
This means if a court awarded you $100,000 and found you were 30 percent responsible for your personal injury, you would receive only $70,000 in compensation. If you’re found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you’re barred from receiving compensation.
Proving negligence on your own can be difficult, especially when facing the high-powered attorneys and adjusters of the insurance companies who will try to claim you played some role in the accident. A Dallas slip and fall attorney can collect evidence of fault and causation, and most importantly, greatly increase your chances of receiving compensation.
Our Dallas Slip and Fall Attorneys Can Help You Get the Compensation You're Owed
Suffering an injury in a slip and fall accident can limit your ability to work, leave you with mounting medical bills, and alter your life in a variety of unexpected ways. Working with an experienced Dallas slip and fall attorney is the best way to secure the financial compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery.
From the beginning, our lawyers can help you gather evidence, build a claim against a property owner and handle discussions with any insurance companies that may be involved. Schedule a free consultation with the attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare today.