Slip and fall accidents are surprisingly common. The resulting damage that is done, from back injuries to head injuries, can cause a wide array of problems and can end up leading to a constantly growing pile of medical bills. However, the money made from slip and fall insurance claims in an effort to pay for those medical bills makes it a large target for fraud, and in both directions.
The more common of the two involves people setting up slip and fall accidents to make some quick cash out of the insurance payout. The model is simple: someone finds the right spot to stage an accident where a certain building or company will be held responsible, and then they “fall.” They fake a few injuries that supposedly cost a lot of money to maintain and correct, and collect when the company settles.
It may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it actually works, as three young men in Georgia discovered. Warrants were sent out for the arrests of the boys, all in their early twenties, for their participation in a staged accident ring operating out of South Georgia. They may have taken the falls, both literally and metaphorically, but police are also currently looking for a fourth member said to be the ringleader who was responsible for planning the stagings and filing the fraudulent insurance claims.
As unlikely as it sounds, fraud goes both ways. Genuine slip and fall accidents can cost a business millions of dollars at best and force them to shut down due to bad press and bankruptcy at worst. This risk can push some businesses to perform some fraudulent acts of their own to prevent them from having to pay the insurance claim. Or, in the case of First Quality Enterprise’s safety manager, prevent him from getting fired.
Slip and falls are the number one cause of accidents in hotels, restaurants, and public buildings, so it is honestly not that surprising that plaintiff Dennis Demnicki slipped and fell in First Quality Enterprise’s lobby while he was waiting for a sales meeting in September of 2015. Demnicki was knocked unconscious for several minutes following his slip on a puddle that was allegedly caused by a spilled watering can, and also suffered a herniated disc.
Demnicki’s pretrial memo stated that “First Quality’s health and safety manager was one of the first to respond to Demnicki after he fell, and, soon after, the manager worked to cover up evidence that potentially implicated the company.”
The evidence includes video footage that appears to have been “cut and tampered with” and even shows the safety manager “hiding” the watering can that had been at the reception desk. The very same safety manager, along with others, then attempted to claim that the water came from Demnicki’s own water bottle.
The company has since paid out $6 million to Dennis Demnicki in a settlement.