If someone has ever fallen in your store but didn’t appear to be seriously injured or in need of medical care, you may have wondered if you should report the incident to RiskPoint. Absolutely. The full extent of injuries isn’t always clear, and fraudulent claims are also a risk. Timely reporting can help your store avoid high claims costs.

The Hidden Threat of Falls

Falls can occur anywhere, including grocery stores. Between the large volume of customers of all ages and the prevalence of spill and tripping hazards, grocery stores have a considerable slip-and-fall risk. Both workers and customers can experience falls.

Some falls may seem like no big deal, but falls are a common cause of serious injury and even death. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slips and falls result in one million emergency room visits a year. Around 5% of all falls results in fractured bones. The elderly are especially vulnerable to injuries related to falls, and falls can lead to nursing home admission and even death. Approximately one in three people over the age of 65 experience a fall each year, and falls account for 87% of all fractures experienced among people over the age of 65.

Liability After an Injury

Falls and other in-store injuries can lead to big lawsuits.

  • According to Progressive Grocer, a jury awarded $1.325 million to a Texas woman who fell in a Brookshire Brothers grocery store in 2020. The woman claimed that she slipped on a puddle near the ice cream freezers, fell, and broke her kneecap. Her injuries required two surgeries. The jury determined that the woman was 30% responsible for the fall and the grocery store was 70% responsible.
  • According to Business Insider, a California jury awarded $4.3 million to a man who slipped on a wet floor in an Albertsons store. The man claims the fall resulted in a broken nose and traumatic brain injury. He received medical treatment for the broken nose a week after the fall. Months later, he complained of memory and sensory problems, and that’s when the brain injury was discovered. Albertsons claimed that the brain injury did not result from the in-store fall.
  • Also according to Business Insider, a South Carolina jury awarded a woman $10 million after she stepped on a rusty nail in the store. She claims that the injury caused an infection that resulted in the amputation of several toes and most of her right leg, although the store has disputed this.

Your Insurer Can Help the Claim Get on the Right Track

If you review your insurance policy, you’ll probably find a clause about timely reporting. Your insurer wants to know about any potential claims or losses as soon as possible – ideally the same day the incident occurs or that you first learn about it.

If there is a potential incident in your store, you should report it to your insurer as soon as possible, even if you don’t think it’s a big deal. For example, if someone falls while in your store and says that they’re fine, you should still report the incident. Although this may seem like an overreaction, there are several reasons why it’s actually necessary:

  • An injury may be much worse than it appears initially. For example, the person who fell may have experienced a brain injury without realizing it. A seemingly minor injury can also lead to more serious complications, for example, if an infection occurs.
  • Slip and fall fraud is another risk. A person may lie about the extent of their injuries or claim that an injury sustained elsewhere was actually the result of an incident in your store.
  • Your insurer can provide assistance and advice to make sure the incident is handled appropriately – but only if they know about the claim.
  • Delayed reporting can increase claims costs. Liberty Mutual says that average claims costs increase by 9% when there is a delay of four to seven days, by 21% when there is a delay of eight to 14 days, and by 52% when there is a delay of 29 or more days.

RiskPoint Is Your Risk Management Partner

Your insurer wants to reduce the chance and severity of claims, just like you. If an incident has occurred, report the incident as soon as possible. See the Incident Reporting Best Practices tip sheet for more information on responding to incidents.