As suggested, premises liability type claims are often referred to as slip and fall accidents. However, the name is a little misleading as the claims actually cover a broad spectrum of accidents on private, business and government property.
These claims cover a variety of accidents including slips, falls, falling objects, negligent use of equipment or machinery, and the negligence of employees, contractors, sub-contractors and guests to name just a few. In addition, the claims may be made against the owner, the renter, the occupant, the management company or any combination thereof depending on the circumstances.
Depending upon the nature of the accident and the parties involved, a number of different insurance policies might come into play. As can be seen, these accidents can get fairly complicated and confusing in identifying the responsible parties and the pertinent insurance. An experienced personal injury attorney can help. Collins & Collins, P.C. can be reached at (505) 242-5958.
Injuries in Private Residences
These types of cases are typically the most clear-cut. However, even these can get more complicated depending upon the circumstances and the identity of the negligent party.
Generally, these would fall simply under the owner’s Homeowners Policy. In the case of a renter, it could fall under Renters Insurance and/or the owner’s Homeowner’s Policy. In case of a rental where a management company is involved, it might fall under their policies as well as the homeowners and renters.
Injuries at a Business
Like homeowners coverage, most businesses will carry some commercial property insurance which acts much like homeowners but generally with much higher coverage limits. These policies will cover most accidents at a business where there was negligence involved.
In cases where customers, contractors, subcontractors or vendors caused the accident, there may be additional sources of coverage through each of these third parties. However, depending on the circumstances, the commercial property insurance will typically also provide coverage.
Injuries on Government Property
The coverage issues here are straightforward. Coverage is dictated by the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. In addition to the coverage issues, the Tort Claims Act will set forth special rules and deadlines for claims against the government.
These types of claims can be the most confusing for folks forced to deal with these issues. In case of serious injury or death, it is highly advisable to seek the guidance of an attorney right away. The deadlines on these can run in as little as 90 days. Missing a deadline will bar the claims completely.
No-Fault Medical Payment (MedPay) Coverage
In case of accidents on business premises, many commercial policies carry no-fault MedPay coverage. This means that the policy is intended to pay for the medical expenses of the injured guest no matter who was at fault. The provision is to protect guests in case of injury so that they may obtain necessary medical treatment even in the event that the business owner disputes liability and fault for the accident.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that despite the available coverage, both business owners and insurers routinely refuse to honor the coverage. This means you have a fight on your hand. It also means that you may have to seek alternative means of medical treatment.
In the absence of medical insurance, this can be a challenge. Again, an experienced personal injury attorney may, one way or another, be able to help you to obtain the medical treatment that you need.
Personal Injury Umbrella Policy
Under all but government related claims, there may be Personal Injury Umbrella Policy coverage (PLUP). A PLUP is often carried above and beyond all other coverage on folks with substantial assets to protect.
A PLUP is usually a high value policy. In cases of very serious injuries or wrongful death, a PLUP where available can go a long way toward full and fair compensation where other policies are inadequate.
Auto Insurance Coverage
In some cases, auto policies might come into play in addition to the other coverage. Most clear-cut here would be a situation where a guest is struck by a motor vehicle. This situation would invoke full auto coverage including the other parties as well as your underinsured coverage.
There might be other “auto related” accidents with less clear-cut and therefore more hotly disputed coverage. One example might include a situation where you’re dropping your car off at a garage. When stepping out of the car, you fall due to negligently maintained flooring (oil, grating, uneven pavement…).
There are a number of variations too numerous to name on this theme on both private and commercial property where arguably both the owner’s insurance as well as your own underinsured motorist coverage would apply.
Complications in Premises Liability Claims
There are countless complications that can arise with these types of claims. These include the insurance issues above. They also arise when guests, contractors/sub-contractors, vendors and so on cause the accident.
In many cases, the involvement of a third party will expand the possible coverage to that party’s insurance. In others, the property owner will dispute liability and the insurance carrier may then dispute coverage. These must be sorted out and often you will have a real fight on your hands with the insurance companies.
At the risk of redundancy, an experienced attorney can again help you sort out all of these issues to maximize insurance coverage so that you are as fully and fairly compensated for your injuries as possible.