Slip and Falls and Your General Liability Coverage

By: Don Allan, Agent Relations Manager

slip and fall

slip and fall

A few years ago, a friend invited a couple of guys from the gym we frequented over to his condo in the South End to watch the Bruins destroy the Devils. It was a cold Thursday night in February and we had just received a few inches of snow the night before.

With temperatures below freezing and my friend’s crazy work schedule, he was unable to remove the snow from the front stairs before it froze, leaving a concrete layer of ice leading up the 9 steps to his front door.

"Proceed with caution!" he yelled, half-jokingly, to us as we each arrived at his place. Amazingly, we all made it safely up the stairs, but the same can’t be said for 4-hours later when it was time to leave. I remember turning to close the door behind me, when all of a sudden the friend I had walked out with disappeared from my sight. The groan coming from the snow bank below me told the story of what had happened. Dave had taken a tumble from the top step all the way down and was left with a broken femur.

As apologetic as our friend was over the incident, he was still liable for the cause of the injury to Dave's leg. With a broken leg costing thousands of dollars in medical bills, who is going to pay? What kind of coverage will kick in here?

The master policy for our friend’s condo building contains a commercial general liability coverage form. The purpose of the general liability portion of the policy is to defend you, and indemnify (make whole again) a third party if you are responsible for someone else's injuries.

General Liability pays for expenses such as medical care costs, loss of services or court-awarded compensation for deaths or injuries that result from an accident or occurrence.

Be sure to check the GL limits on your policy. Common practice is $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 general aggregate limit. At Brownstone, you always receive a standard $2,000,0000 per occurrence and $4,000,000 general aggregate limit. We find that by doubling the GL limits it saves unit owners from having to purchase an extra umbrella policy, should they exhaust their common limits.

So make sure you keep those walkways clear this time of year. It could save you or your loved ones a trip to the E.R. or a call to your insurance agency.