Delay in advising insurance company of potential "slip and fall" results in denial of insurance coverage
Heath Williams and Opus Development owned a mixed residential and retail building where one of the tenants fell and was taken to the ER by EMTs after police responded. The tenant later filed a lawsuit--near the end of the three year statute of limitations, which Williams claimed he was unaware of. The tenant obtained a default which Williams was able to set aside. After he set aside the default, Williams sent the lawsuit to his insurer, Travelers, to defend. Travelers refused to defend, arguing that Williams had delayed in providing it notice of the fall, prejudiced its ability to investigate, settle or defend the claim, and therefore was ineligible for coverage.The trial judge agreed and dismissed the lawsuit Williams filed against Travelers. On appeal, the court pointed to Williams' knowledge of the fact of the original fall and held that his failure to inform Travelers of the incident wiped out his coverage. The Court apparently gave no weight to his argument that he did not anticipate a claim and was not aware of the filing of the lawsuit until he received notice of the default. Given that Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly was on the panel, it isn't surprising that all of Williams' arguments were dismissed and all of the insurers' arguments were accepted at face value. Her votes are predictable in these matters.