Slip, Trip, and Fall Claims Injuries caused by slips, trips and falls in and around your practice can result in higher insurance premiums and lost productivity. Although these accidents result in only a small percentage of claims reported, they account for a significant amount of claim dollars paid. Below are some examples of recent slip, trip and fall claims. In each of these cases, practice owners were taking active measures to prevent accidents, and yet, in each case accidents occurred. Does that mean these accidents were impossible to prevent? No. It simply means that one cannot be too careful. In each of the following examples, additional cautionary measures might have made a difference. The Hazards of Winter In winter, there is an increased likelihood for injuries resulting from slipping and falling due to the additional hazards caused by ice and snow. Practice owners and staff members need to exercise extreme caution when it comes to protecting the clinic and the surrounding areas during the winter climate. It was a cold winter, complete with ice and snow. The steps leading from Dr. A's clinic became problematic. For this reason, Dr. A had staff members salt the clinic's stairway every day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Unfortunately, this salting proved insufficient. The building's gutters were frozen and, when the afternoon sun melted the snow on the roof, the water trickled over onto the stairs, where it was cold enough to form a thick layer of ice. After presenting her pet for treatment, a client of Dr. A's slipped and fell on her way down the stairs. Dr. A learned that his client had fallen, and he went outside and helped her to her feet. The client appeared unharmed and drove away. It was later discovered that the client had fractured her tailbone. The claim that resulted from this accident was just under $100,000. Was the accident preventable? Dr. A was making an effort to keep the area around his practice as safe as possible, but problem areas, such as steps and sidewalks, need to be closely monitored and both clients and employees need to be adequately warned to use caution. A sign posted near the exit urging people to be careful when using the stairs might have helped, and more frequent salting and shoveling would have made the stairway safer. Proper gutter maintenance may have helped as well. Straight to the Root of the Problem Dr. B was aware that the sidewalk in front of his clinic was uneven. This irregularity was caused by an old tree across from the sidewalk in front of his practice. As this tree grew, its roots were shifting the slabs of the sidewalk. This tree, a menace to Dr. B, was well loved by the townspeople, who were committed to preserving the village trees. When Dr. B notified the city office of the hazard caused by this tree and the uneven sidewalk, he was told the tree would not be removed. Dr. B contacted the city office AVMA PLIT P.O. 1629 Chicago, IL 60690-1629 This article contains only a general description of coverages and does not include all the benefits and limitations found in the policy. Coverages may vary. All references to coverages are subject to policy terms, conditions, and exclusions. The insurance policy and not this article will form the contract between the insured and the insurance company. on many occasions, urging them to reconsider removing the tree. The tree remained, and the sidewalk grew worse. One day, one of Dr. B's clients tripped on this uneven sidewalk, sustaining tremendous bruising to the right side of her body. Was this accident preventable? Dr. B was persistent in his endeavor to have the tree removed; however, even the most valiant efforts are sometimes not enough. Had Dr. B posted signs around the area, or placed an orange cone on the uplifted sidewalk, the accident might have been prevented. Also, Dr. B should have made his complaints to the city in writing and kept dated copies of all correspondence. AVMA PLIT P.O. 1629 Chicago, IL 60690-1629 This article contains only a general description of coverages and does not include all the benefits and limitations found in the policy. Coverages may vary. All references to coverages are subject to policy terms, conditions, and exclusions. The insurance policy and not this article will form the contract between the insured and the insurance company.
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