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Friday, July 26, 2013

Repercussions of a false slip and fall suit

Expense and complication of fraud litigation makes prosecuting slip and fall accidents unappealing
Not all slip and fall cliams are genuine
By Jacob Masters

There is video footage all over the internet of fraudulent shoppers pushing shopping carts and staging their own “slip and fall” incident.  These shoppers, hoping to make some money in a lawsuit, are caught on store cameras pouring liquids from a shopping cart on the floor and then slipping in the puddle.  The footage looks more like an entry on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” than a true victim of a slip and fall incident.  Given the repercussions of an illegal stunt, the joke is on them!

False slip and fall claims on the rise

According to National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), many individuals looking for an easy way to make money try out their acting abilities and stage a slip and fall accident in businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.  A fraudulent slip and fall claim is where a person creates a false, but potentially dangerous situation, with the intent to fake a slip or fall for money.  

While such claims are attempted against large businesses, smaller businesses are falling victim to the fraudulent behavior more often.  When the “injured” party comes to the small business with the threat of slip and fall litigation and shop owners will go for the “pay and forget” option in order to avoid an expensive and lengthy legal process.  Even if and when the shop owner realizes he’s been “had”, the false claim is rarely reported to authorities.  The fraudulent acts keep happening and businesses continue to fall victim, not to mention lose money.

NICB reviewed slip-and-fall questionable claims, from small businesses, referred during the period of 1/1/2010 – 12/31/2011. In 2010, there were 1,944 referrals; in 2011, there were 2,168—an increase of 12 percent.  The five states generating the most slip-and-fall questionable claims from 2010-2011 were:  California (667); New York (280); Texas (245); Illinois (230) and Florida (286). The five cities were:  New York (134); Los Angeles (127); Philadelphia (99); Chicago (63) and Las Vegas (62).

The repercussions of being fraudulent

In June of 2013, an Illinois man was charged with insurance fraud after admitting to authorities that he filed a series of false slip and false lawsuits.  The man, who confessed to false slip and fall accidents in the washrooms of restaurants such as Popeye’s Chicken and Burger King, was arrested.  

The NICB contacted local authorities after they learned of a suspected insurance fraud in which the man’s attorney demanded $180,000 for injuries.   Police soon learned that the man, who had an alias, had been making numerous false claims in an attempt to extort money from local businesses.  The man also admitted to collecting $219,000 for a fake injury in a false slip and fall case in 2009.  The fraudulent man now faces up to 15 years in prison for making false allegations.

Faking a slip and fall accident can potentially hurt others and destroy the reputation of a honest and law abiding business.  Not only are false accusations, with the attempt to swindle money, not worth the trouble, but can leave you in a lot of unwanted legal trouble.  Remember, the next time you are looking for a quick way to make a buck, don’t do anything stupid in the grocery store; cameras are rolling!

About the author: Jacob Masters is a freelance writer and author who has worked in the health industry for over a decade. His goal in life is to increase the internet knowledge base one article at a time. He also likes to push the boundaries through his city wide evening excursions as a guerilla gardener.

* Image: Author owned and licensed