It is prudent for property owners to maintain property insurance to protect against slip and fall injury claims. Coverage is especially important in cities like Philadelphia where each property owner is responsible to maintain their own sidewalk. If an allegedly injured person files a lawsuit, the City of Philadelphia is only secondarily responsible. This means that the property owner must pay the judgment. If the city contributes to the judgment, the property owner must reimburse the city for any amount paid.
Uninsured situations most often occur with estate properties, unoccupied properties, and buy and hold investments. For example, when a homeowner dies, the heirs may allow coverage to lapse. Investors who purchased properties without an occupant may also neglect to obtain coverage for various reasons.
An undefended injury claim can be catastrophic to the property owner or estate heir. Below are some of the major problems an injury case can present:
• freezing of the asset until conclusion of the legal case
• inability of the owner to sell other properties unless the judgment is paid
• loss of the property to a forced sheriff sale
• a possible personal judgment against the owner
How can a property owner avoid a major loss without insurance coverage?
Major loss may be avoided by taking immediate action with an aggressive strategy.
#1. Address the case immediately. A default judgment can be obtained against a property owner who delays in responding to the lawsuit. A default judgment could prevent the owner from presenting a defense to liability at trial.
#2. Determine your potential risk. If a small claim case is filed as a major case, it may be possible to have the case remanded to a lower court level. An earlier hearing date and a cap on damages are some of the benefits of a remand for the property owner.
#3. The worst thing a property owner can do is avoid taking action. While defending a case may seem insurmountable at first, many cases can be completely defended or settled for a modest amount.
As a real estate litigation attorney residential and commercial property owners, I help my clients avoid costly mistakes and resolve disputes. If you know a property owner who was sued due to a slip and fall or injury claim, please forward our contact information:
Phone (484) 690-4613
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