All business owners have enough on their plates trying to meet the demands of its patrons, provide good customer service, and somehow eke out a profit. They probably don’t have time to watch for unscrupulous individuals who may try to intentionally harm their businesses. Which is why it’s so important for business owners to take proactive measures so that they don’t become victimized by fraud.
The Anatomy of a Slip-And-Fall Scam
A recent story from Georgia is a perfect example. In late October of 2013, at a convenience store in Conyers, a woman claimed to have slipped and fallen down on the shop’s floor. An ambulance was dispatched to the location, as was a Rockdale County Sheriff’s Deputy. But the store’s manager told the deputy that he didn’t think the woman had actually fallen in the store, and a customer appeared to back up the store owner’s suspicions.
The next day, the deputy went back to the convenience store to review surveillance footage taken by the shop’s cameras. The video confirmed the store owner’s suspicions: the woman was seen walking into the store, appearing to search for surveillance cameras, taking a bottle of water from a shelf, pouring some of it onto the floor, and spreading the liquid around with her feet. Then the woman sat down on the floor, adjusted her body position, and lay flat, where she was discovered by another patron.
The deputy then contacted the alleged victim to ask her how she was feeling. When he confronted the woman about what he saw on the footage, she reportedly began stuttering and then said she didn’t remember what happened. In December, the woman was arrested on charges which included making false statements.
What Businesses Can Do To Protect Themselves
It’s clear to see that the woman’s ultimate goal was to file a lawsuit against the convenience store and receive a monetary settlement for her “injuries.” Sometimes, these lawsuits can be very costly for businesses; and business owners can find themselves in dire financial straits through no fault of their own. However, there are some preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the possibility of being targeted by a fraudster.
- Invest in video cameras and a video recording and/or monitoring system – and make sure that all areas of the business can be viewed by the cameras. It may be expensive, but it’s cheaper than a slip-and-fall lawsuit (and many insurers give discounts on insurance premiums to businesses who have video surveillance).
- Never mop floors when customers are present. (The Conyers store owner told police that he only mopped floors at night after closing, so that they were never wet during business hours.)
- Be wary of displays or shelving units that can block sight lines within a business. These are the areas that fraudsters look for to stage phony slip-and-fall accidents.
- Educate your employees about this type of scam. While you don’t want your workers to treat any such incident with suspicion, you want them to be aware of the possibility that someone could be faking their injuries.
- Purchase floor mats for areas which are likely to become wet, like the entry door, near a drink dispenser, a close to a refrigerator or ice machine. Potential fraudsters may avoid these areas if mats are present.
If you feel that someone might be trying to defraud your business by staging a slip-and-fall accident, contact the police and your insurance company. Then see if any customer or employee witnessed the incident, and check any available surveillance footage. Finally, try to determine what changes to make so that your establishment isn’t seen as a target for this type of scam.
Billions of dollars in phony claims each year are filed in the U.S. Don’t let your business become the next victim.