Posted On: March 25, 2012 by Stephen Bilkis

A corporation owned property in Queens

A corporation owned property in Queens. Sometime in April 23, 2004, a man had a trip and fall while on the premises of the property. The man who tripped and fell hired a lawyer who sent the corporation a letter asking the corporation to indemnify his client for the injury the man sustained as a result of the trip and fall.

The corporation was insured and the insurer had contracted to indemnify the corporation for any claims resulting from negligence due to trips and falls on his property in Queens. The lawsuit could have been avoided if the corporation had given timely notice to his insurance company that a claim against him had been filed.

The lawyer sent the corporation another notice asking him to give them the name of the insurance company of the corporation but, again, the corporation simply ignored the request of the injured man and his lawyer.

The injured man brought suit in damages against the corporation on November 14, 2005. He filed the case against the corporation and the insurance company. The insurance company asked that the claim of the injured man be dismissed as against him on the ground that under the insurance contract between it and the corporation, the insurance company should have been notified as soon as the trip and fall occurred.

The insurance company contended that the corporation learned of the accident as early as June 2004 when the lawyer first wrote to the corporation demanding indemnity for his client’s injuries. The lawyer’s letter warned the corporation that they will file a suit in the future but that they were open to a discussion with the liability insurance company of the corporation.
The corporation asserts that since the letter of the lawyer did not mention any accident or the exact location where the accident occurred, it ignored the letter.

In the second letter of the lawyer for the injured man in July 2004, the letter made a reference to an accident but the location of the accident was not disclosed. The lawyer asked that the issue of indemnity be referred to the insurance company. But still, the corporation did not inform the insurance company.

The Court found from the records that the corporation had the sidewalk repaired and replaced after the accident so that the corporation cannot now be believed when it asserts that it did not know of any accident or where any such accident occurred. It could not have replaced or repaired the sidewalk if it had not known that the accident occurred there.

The law requires that the insurance company be given notice within a reasonable time. When the insured corporation failed to give the insurance company notice of the possible claim of the injured man, the insured corporation failed to comply with a condition of the insurance contract. Because of this, now that the insured corporation is being sued, it cannot rely upon the insurance corporation to indemnify it for any damages it may be required to pay.

From the records, it is clear that the insured corporation took one year and half before it notified its insurance company of the accident. The law requires the insured corporation to notify the insurer within a reasonable time from when the corporation learned of the accident. The law requires notice to the insurance corporation so that the insurance corporation can participate in the investigation of the claim.

It is also noted that the injured man failed to exercise due diligence to find out who the insurer of the corporation was. The injured man did not bring suit until nineteen months from the accident had elapsed. If he had brought suit earlier, then the insurance company would have been notified earlier and it would have participated in threshing out the issue of indemnification. The insurance company would have had the opportunity to gather facts from its own investigation which it can use in defending itself against the claims of the injured man.
For the negligence of the insured corporation and the injured man in failing to notify the insurance company of the claim of indemnity for the accident within a reasonable time, the Court grants the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment and dismisses the claims against the insurance company.

Perhaps you are like the property owner in this case who has tried to insulate himself from loss by getting property insurance against claims of negligence. Do not make the same mistake of the property owner here thinking that having insurance is enough. Call Stephen Bilkis & Associates and know all your rights and obligations fully. Talk to any of their helpful New York Trip and Fall lawyers to know how when and where to give notice to your insurance company. Being involved in a lawsuit is bothersome and time consuming, but it can mean a loss of a significant amount of money if you do not know your rights and obligations. Confer with a New York Trip and Fall lawyer who can stand by you and help see you through. Trust Stephen Bilkis & Associates to recommend a well-trained New York Trip and Fall Attorney to present and argue your side so that you do not become a victim of false claims.