Slipped on dog pee at friend's home...

by Lois

I was staying at my friend's home out of state when I was injured. She had a sixteen year old dog and there were puppy pads outside the room where I was sleeping. The dog missed the puppy pad and peed on the floor. I was walking out of the room and slipped on the dog's pee.

I had a broken patella and needed surgery, and I'm now receiving physical therapy and acupuncture. Their insurance adjuster contacted me and claims I was 50 percent responsible. I am on Medicare and so far bills have been paid. It was a tough surgery and I'm still trying to recuperate.

Where do I go from here to make sure all my bills are paid? Am I really 50% at-fault for this, as the adjuster says? What can I do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Slipped on dog pee at friend's home...":

Lois (California):

California follows the legal doctrine of Pure Comparative Negligence. Pure comparative negligence means a judge, jury, or insurance company claims adjuster can assign a percentage of fault to each party in an injury and/or property damage claim. Learn more about pure comparative negligence/fault here.

In your case, the claims adjuster is saying you were 50 percent at fault. From the facts you present, you don't appear to have ANY fault. The claims adjuster is representing your friend's homeowners insurance company and wants to pay you as little as possible.

There must be some reason the claims adjuster is assigning 50 percent comparative negligence to you. Were you intoxicated at or about the time you fell? Before you fell, did your friend tell you to wear slippers, or be aware of possible urine in the floor? If so, the claims adjuster may be relying on that to assign 50% fault to you.

Without more information it's very difficult to know why the claims adjuster is saying you were 50 percent at fault.

Because of the seriousness of your injuries, you may be able to find an attorney to accept your claim on a contingency fee basis. This means your attorney will not be paid until, and unless he or she settles your claim or wins it at trial.

If the insurance company maintains its position you were 50 percent at fault, and as a result only offers you a settlement representing 50 percent of your medical bills, the insurance company may be acting in bad faith" Learn more about how to identify and defend against bad faith tactics here.

When there is evidence an insurance company acted outside the bounds of acceptable conduct in handling a legitimate injury claim, a judge or jury can award damages which include payment for the medical bills you already asked for, an additional amount for your emotional distress, and punitive damages. These damages represent compensation over and above the amount available through the insurance policy itself.

Read California's law addressing bad faith practices.

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

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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