Visitor Question

Woman Says She Tripped on Our Sidewalk…

Submitted By: Kat (Houston, Texas)

A lady showed up at our door and said she tripped on our sidewalk 2 weeks ago…she said she can’t remember the day it happened.

She told us she needs dental work due to the injury which will cost $3,500.

She has no witnesses, there was no visible damage to her face, and no visible chip on her tooth. She showed us where on the sidewalk she tripped and it is raised maybe a quarter inch in part of that section. She said she is on Medicare.

Are we responsible for her dental work? Is there anything we can do to keep her from suing us?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Kat,

Without witnesses, and especially because the “victim” said she tripped and fell two weeks ago, you really don’t have much to worry about. Under the circumstances her claim lacks credibility.

To be on the safe side call your homeowners insurance agent or company. Explain to them the facts exactly as you explained them to us. Your homeowners policy, like almost all others, has a clause in it which states you are obligated to notify your insurance company whenever you believe a claim is either about to be filed or has been filed against you.

If you don’t report the claim and the woman sues you, technically your insurance company doesn’t have to insure you. Although that is technically correct, it is seldom enforced.

Once you notify your insurance company you can refer the woman to them. You don’t have to do anything else and can just ignore her, or tell her you will not accept responsibility. Hopefully she will just go away.

If she doesn’t and files a lawsuit against you there will be nothing to worry about. Because you notified your homeowners insurance company they will protect you and provide legal counsel to you at no additional expense, and will insure you up to the maximum amount of your homeowners policy.

In the alternative, if the sidewalk is not part of your property, then you can again ignore her, or tell her to contact the city or village in which you reside. If the sidewalk is not part of your property you do not have to report the claim to your homeowners insurance company.

All in all, the entire matter should be nothing to be concerned with. It is really nothing more than an inconvenience. Incidents like these are the reason why you and hundreds of thousands of other homeowners pay insurance premiums.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 12, 2012

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