As a professional landscaper, your ability to financially provide for yourself and your family hinges on your health and wellbeing. When you are injured on the job, that directly impacts your ability to work, often resulting in lost income from missing work. In serious cases, it can result in losing valuable landscaping contracts when you’re unable to fulfill your obligations.
Of course, there’s also the associated medical bills that come with an injury.
Whether you’re looking at a trip to the Emergency Room for stitches or you’re admitted overnight for surgery, hospital bills are rarely affordable. Add follow up visits to the doctor, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and costly prescription medications, and you can quickly find yourself facing a mountain of medical bills.
The good news is you have several options at your disposal to seek compensation for your lost income and medical bills.
In many cases your professional liability insurance should be able to cover most, if not all, of your damages. If there’s still a gap in compensation, or if you don’t have a general liability insurance policy, you can file a claim against the residential property owner’s homeowners insurance policy, and you can file a personal injury lawsuit if necessary.
Professional Liability Insurance for Landscapers
As is the case with most states, licensed professional landscapers in Arizona are required to carry general liability insurance. If you’re a one-man operation, you’re responsible for obtaining the insurance policy and paying the monthly premiums. If you’re an employee of a larger organization, the business owner is responsible for maintaining that insurance policy.
Your general liability insurance should compensate you for most, if not all, of the damages stemming from your injury. The full extent of your compensation hinges on the quality of the insurance policy, though.
If your employer chose an insurance policy with minimal coverage limits, there’s a chance the policy may not pay out enough to cover all of your medical bills and lost income.
Unfortunately, there’s also a chance that your liability insurance policy has lapsed. It’s not uncommon for small business owners to miss a monthly premium payment when they’re falling behind on bills. When that happens, the insurance company may refuse to honor your claim.
Seeking Compensation from Homeowners Insurance
When your professional liability insurance isn’t enough to cover your medical bills and lost income, or when you’re in the even scarier position of finding yourself without insurance, don’t panic. You may be able to recover damages from the residential property owner’s homeowners insurance policy.
The challenging thing about homeowners insurance policies is that they vary between providers, so an easy claim with one insurance provider may be a no-go with another provider. Of course, no insurance claim is going to be easy — these companies are in business to make money, and they have a reputation for fighting tooth and nail when it comes to paying out claims.
The big question at stake in any claim against a homeowners insurance company is whether the property owner’s negligence contributed to your injury. If the injury was purely an accident, you’re only able to collect based on the policy’s medical payment coverage. Depending on the policy, that’s usually between $5,000 to $10,000.
However, if your injury stems from the homeowner’s failure to adequately maintain their property, the policy’s negligence liability coverage will kick in — providing substantially higher compensation for damages.
Homeowner Liability for Negligence
Property owners have an obligation to maintain a safe property. When someone is injured on a residential property because the owner failed to fulfill that obligation, the injured party can file a personal injury lawsuit (sometimes called a premises liability lawsuit or “slip and fall” lawsuit).
To determine whether the property owner’s negligence contributed to your injury, it’s important to consider the circumstances surrounding the injury. Examples of situations that could indicate property owner negligence include
- Slipping on an icy sidewalk
- Falling down stairs due to a lack of handrails or shallow/steep steps
- Falling from a broken deck
- Injuries related to an improperly constructed or maintained fence
There is an important caveat with negligence claims, though it doesn’t usually apply to landscapers. When a property owner contracts with a professional to fix something that’s broken on the property, injuries stemming from the object in question are not eligible for negligence claims.
For example, a construction contractor hired to replace a broken deck usually wouldn’t be able to sue the homeowner if they fall through the deck. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to penalize the homeowner for actually trying to fix the problem, as that’s the opposite of negligence.
How to File a Claim Against Someone Else’s Homeowners Insurance
Whether you’re a landscaper, a construction contractor, or a neighbor walking your dog, you have the right to file a claim with a property owner’s homeowners insurance when you’re injured on their property. You don’t need an attorney to file a claim, though it’s highly recommended that you do.
After filing a claim with the homeowners insurance company, an insurance adjuster will investigate your claim by interviewing the interested parties and reviewing the evidence. They will request copies of your medical bills to verify the damages, and they may request medical records to verify your injury.
It’s perfectly normal for the insurance adjustor to interview you during this process, but you should not consent to having your interview recorded without an attorney present. Similarly, you should not hand over private, confidential medical files without consulting with an attorney first.
Personal Injury Lawsuits for Landscapers in Arizona
Should you find yourself in a situation where the homeowners insurance company refuses your claim, your final option is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the property owner. By extension, suing the property owner brings the homeowners insurance company to the table because they’re bound to represent the homeowner.
In a personal injury lawsuit, an injured party may seek compensation for the following damages:
- Medical bills — hospital bills, doctor visits, physical therapy, rehabilitation, medication, therapy, etc.
- Lost income — includes lost wages from missing work right now, and future lost income if the injury affects your ability to work long-term
- Pain and suffering — when you experience serious mental anguish or emotional trauma from your injury
If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in Arizona you should contact a skilled personal injury attorney. A good personal injury attorney will make sure that you are not only compensated for your injury, but that you receive a fair settlement.
Call Personal Injury Attorney Jared Everton at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.
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