Loose Cat and Lack of Indemnity Agreement Result in Client's Loss

Loss Amount: $57,000

Situation: A woman who lived at a senior living community located near a veterinary practice went out for a walk. At the same time, a cat escaped through the lobby door of the practice and an employee chased after it. The elderly woman decided to help catch the cat and entered an area of the veterinary hospital parking lot that had been recently repaved. Suddenly the woman slipped violently, fell on her right knee, and heard a loud crack. She was immediately attended to. Her injury required surgery and a lengthy recovery including physical therapy and limitations to her active social calendar that involved walking, swimming and cycling with friends.

The woman claimed that there were no caution signs entering the construction area from the direction she came, and she slipped on loose tar. Her husband took pictures of the site soon after the incident to document the conditions.

The owner of the property and practice had hired a commercial paving contractor to resurface the parking lot. A lawsuit was filed against them for the accident by the claimant but the practice owner was also named in the suit, alleging no caution signs were posted from the direction the woman entered the area from. Although the construction company did accept most of the liability (and cost) for the incident the insurance company accepted liability for a portion of it because the contract for the work did not address insurance, liability or indemnification matters.

Lesson Learned: The veterinary practices claim was caused by multiple conditions, the loose cat that drew the attention of the woman, inadequate safety signage by the paving contractor, and the lack of indemnification between the paving contractor and the owner of the property and practice. The $57,000 loss was the smaller portion of a larger claim paid by the paving contractors carrier.

  • Post leash requirements for all animals entering or leaving the practice.
  • Install adequate leash anchors in the lobby of the practice to aid customers while they are waiting or attending to business at the front desk.
  • Review and evaluate contracts for work before you sign them. Require certificates of insurance with indemnification clauses (Additional Insured Endorsements) for construction projects or standing contracts with vendors and service providers.
  • Ask for advice. When in doubt, request input from your agent or carrier. They can help minimize the risk and potential extent of loss should an unanticipated accident occur.

For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.