Entrepreneurship & Small Business

Guy fell on neighbors property and is sueing me

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 13th, 2017 9:42 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 5, 2017
8 posts
18 upvotes

Guy fell on neighbors property and is sueing me

Hi, not sure where to put this post so I will try here

I own a piece of commercial property in Markham. In March there was a late-season ice storm. Someone was coming onto my property but parked in the neighbors parking lot. When he got out of his car he slipped and fell. He happened to be parked in front of a vacant store. So he either thought he was in front of my store, or thought "how can I sue a vacant store?" so decided to sue my store instead. I have security footage which covers my parking lot which shows him walking onto my property but doesn't show the neighbor's property where he fell. There is also a witness who was in the store at the time who saw him fall on the neighbor's property. We have her name and number. I wasn't there at the time, I rent the store to a business so as the property owner I am being sued.

The guy tried to sue me right away and I talked to his lawyer and told him the facts and that lawyer went away. Now four months later he has gotten a second lawyer and they tell me they are going to file a suit against me. This is all very stressful, I'm sure I could win if I go to court with the evidence I have but what a pain it is. I don't want to have to fight off these bloodsuckers. Anyone have any idea about counter-suing?
Last edited by heynow9991 on Jul 18th, 2017 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
64 replies
Deal Addict
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Dec 3, 2004
4456 posts
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Vancouver
If you actually have a witness that is willing to back up what you're saying then you'll win in court. Do not be scared that is exactly what the lawyer hopes for. They are hoping that you become so overwhelmed and distraught with stress that you simply decide to settle out of court and give them an easy payday. Now is the time to be incredibly strong. If you want to display immense strength then draft a letter to the lawyer telling them that you have video proof and a witness who witnessed their client falling on another property and you are more than prepared to see this play out in a court of law. Provide them with an address where they can serve you papers and tell them that if they do sue you that they can be prepared to pay all of your legal fees once they lose the lawsuit. If that doesn't scare the lawyer off and he ends up filing a lawsuit anyways which is unlikely then that is the time for you to be scared perhaps merely at the prospect of going to court and wasting time and that would be the time for you to get a lawyer of your own. But for now display a position of strength and scare them off
Sr. Member
Dec 14, 2011
866 posts
244 upvotes
London
You may be required to notify your liabilty insurer which sucks! Insurance companies just drag things out for five years and then in the end decide that spending substantially more on legal fees to go to trialmakes no sense and then settles with the guy. Deep pockets case.

I love Adam's reply though.
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Dec 3, 2004
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Drakestar wrote:
Jul 18th, 2017 9:17 pm
You may be required to notify your liabilty insurer which sucks! Insurance companies just drag things out for five years and then in the end decide that spending substantially more on legal fees to go to trialmakes no sense and then settles with the guy. Deep pockets case.

I love Adam's reply though.
Drakestar may be correct. Your insurance policy may have a clause in it which requires you to notify them of any claims made from the time you are notified of them and often times they will assume control of it and may choose to settle, which will ultimately cause your insurance rates to go up. But that being said, I believe you are also free NOT to notify them and go at it on your own, but they would then not be liable for anything regarding the case. You'd take a risk. The problem with that is who knows what this guys injuries are. But if you have video footage of him walking in and out of your property then clearly he wasn't significantly injured.

Scams like this really bother me. I'm not really sure how anyone can run a business anymore. When it snows and is icy around here, every single road and sidewalk is coated with ice. The city doesn't clean off their city owned properties. Anyone could just walk up, slip and break something and sue. On any given day I could find any property and slip and fall and sue. Furthermore, I don't think there's much to prevent people from doing this multiple times and sending out demand letters like this. If the case never goes to court, then the person's name never gets made public and theoretically he could be doing this to 10 other businesses. This is why I think these guys will always be reluctant to sue - because they don't want any public record of them doing this. If they negotiate a settlement in private it remains private and they can then continue to repeat the scam.
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2001
14176 posts
4635 upvotes
One issue - if you are being sued in small claims court you are often only able to recover a fraction of your legal fees spent defending yourself. Every province is different, however I believe in Ontario you are generally only allowed a fraction. Perhaps a judge may be more willing to entertain a higher amount for blatant fraud, but do not fool yourself into thinking you will automatically receive a judgement for the entirety of your legal fees in a small claims court situation.

If you have video evidence that shows no slip/fall occurred on your property, it seems like you have a pretty airtight case for small claims court and should not be forced to pay damages. However the challenge is in determining:
a) What your damages are as a result
b) What legal fees you are entitled to (especially if you essentially defend yourself)

Good luck!
Sr. Member
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May 22, 2016
870 posts
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Ontario
Contact your insurance. They will decide to pay or not.
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Dec 3, 2004
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webshark wrote:
Jul 18th, 2017 11:34 pm
Contact your insurance. They will decide to pay or not.
That's exactly what the scammer is likely hoping for. Insurance will not want to go through a court case, so they will simply settle for $15,000 out of court and then pass those costs back to the OP with higher insurance premiums. The scammer wins, the insurance company doesn't care and OP loses.

If OP stays strong and decides not to contact insurance, it's very likely the scammer could just go away. Especially since the scammer disappeared for 4 months and got a new lawyer. Sounds flaky to me.
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 5, 2017
8 posts
18 upvotes
Yes, you guys have summed up the problem well. If I make a claim, my insurance may just pay it and raise my rates, plus I have a $2500 deductable I may have to pay.

I deal with a broker, and I talked to them but I feel their advice is maybe not the greatest. They are more interested in selling insurance policies. Anyway, they said I need to prevent this person from making a claim because if they do the insurance company will just pay it. So I called the actual insurance company anonymously and tried to ask them for advice. They wouldn't talk to me, even though I am trying to save them from a frivolous lawsuit. So here I am taking all the stress of being sued with no backup from my insurance company which I pay a pretty healthy premium to every year.

So I am definitely standing my ground. When the lawyer's office called me and asked for my insurance companys information, I told them go ahead and sue me personally. They said to me just let us make a claim against your insurance company, that's what you pay them for.

So my plan is going into Attack Mode. What I'm looking for is ideas to waste a lawyers time. I know if they serve me I can file a form requesting a discovery meeting. I'm going to tell them I need the maximum time available for a discovery which is 7 hours. I'm going to tell them as well if they do file a suit against me I'm going to take my video evidence and witness statement and go to the local police and attempt to have fraud charges laid against their client. I will also tell them that I plan on counter suing for whatever crazy amount I can,I'm thinking 1 million dollars?

I have also learned over the years that everyone has a boss. In this case I am setting them up for a complaint to the Law Society. When they first called me I told them I need to speak to my lawyer but they continued to ask me questions. They then called me a couple hours after that and asked me more questions. I am expecting another call from the actual lawyer handling the case, and I will tell him first off that I want to speak to my lawyer but then I will continue to talk to him. I will then make a complaint to the Law Society that they are being aggressive and continue to call me even though I told them every time they called I told them that I need to get legal advice.
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Dec 3, 2004
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heynow9991 wrote:
Jul 19th, 2017 8:20 am
When the lawyer's office called me and asked for my insurance companys information
BINGO. Scammer alert. Lawyer knows the game. He wants your insurance info so he can file a claim. He will know exactly how much money to ask for so that the insurance company will pay out instead of going to court. Probably $15,000 or around there.
I told them go ahead and sue me personally. They said to me just let us make a claim against your insurance company, that's what you pay them for.
Perfect. You are calling their bluff. Like I said, tell them to sue you, and make it sound like you know you've got a case. When you told him to sue you, he just went ahead and insisted on your insurance info again because he does NOT want to sue you. Remember what I said above... if he sues you, his client will be exposed and go into court records. Since he probably runs this scam all over town, he won't want any public records showing he has a history of this. Otherwise, you could look up his client's name in public documents and see that he has run this scam before.
So my plan is going Attack Mode. What I'm looking for is ideas to waste a lawyers time. I know if they serve me I can file a form requesting a discovery meeting. I'm going to tell them I need the maximum time available for a discovery which is 7 hours. I'm going to tell them as well if they do file a suit against me I'm going to take my video evidence and witness statement and go to the local police and attempt to have fraud charges laid against their client. I will also tell them that I plan on counter suing for whatever crazy amount I can,I'm thinking 1 million dollars?
While it is admirable you are looking ahead, I find it extremely difficult to believe they will sue you. These lawsuits aren't worth anything unless there's significant injuries. And again, this guy won't want his name out there. IF he does sue you then you could do many things to delay, but again I find that hard to believe. But these threats definitely wouldn't hurt. I think sending him a letter saying you have video evidence plus a witness who will testify that he fell outside of your property, that will be enough to scare them off. No need to make threats. Simply state the facts. Threats make you look scared but facts make you look empowered. Simply say "I'm more than prepared to address this via the courts, but your client should be aware that I will be pursing all legal costs". There is simply no way they will sue you... no lawyer is going to take this case without a significant retainer, period.
I have also learned over the years that everyone has a boss. In this case I am setting them up for a complaint to the Law Society. When they first called me I told them I need to speak to my lawyer but they continued to ask me questions. They then called me a couple hours after that and asked me more questions. I am expecting another call from the actual lawyer handling the case, and I will tell him first off that I want to speak to my lawyer but then I will continue to talk to him. I will then make a complaint to the Law Society that they are being aggressive and continue to call me even though I told them every time they called I told them that I need to get legal advice.
I've filed complaints against lawyers to the Law Society. In one case, the lawyer made a HUGE error of judgment and was actually representing ME and then sent a demand letter to me, on behalf of someone else. OOPS! I pointed out to the lawyer he was actually technically in a conflict of interest (complicated story) and he realized how bad he messed up. I filed a complaint with the law society and their investigation was a joke. Bottom line, these guys side with each other. Lawyers stick together. Anyways, I think you're going down a path here that is premature. Just stick to the basics. The lawyers don't sound like they have broken any ethics laws yet, they are simply representing their client. I imagine what is probably going to happen in the end here is the lawyers will go back to the client and tell him they are not willing to take the case based on a cut, and instead if he wants them to proceed he must pay $X into a retainer. Probably $10,000 just to get him started. That's probably what happened with his first lawyer. When he hears that, he will run away.

Keep up the good work, just don't get too emotional. Don't give the lawyers a reason to focus on you. Keep it real professional, quick and so forth. Lawyers are human too and I have learned if you piss someone off really bad you can actually make things worse. Don't give the lawyers a reason to want to sue you. I've seen too many times court cases get filed simply because of emotions.
Deal Addict
Oct 7, 2007
3168 posts
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Assuming you have insurance and you intend to use it should the other party sue you, you need to follow the procedure set out by your insurer so that they don't find a way to absolve their responsibility in protecting you. I have seen it before where a person is dealing with one lawsuit and then when they go to make a claim, the insurance company starts giving them the gears. DOCUMENT EVERY INTERACTION YOU HAVE WITH ALL PARTIES INCLUDING THE INSURANCE PEOPLE. And don't let the insurance company mess around with you. Make sure they do their job. Insurance companies can be sneaky and untrustworthy when it comes time to actually use your insurance. Be super careful but don't let them off the hook. You bought your insurance just in case something like this happened. Now is the time to put this into action. Keep us posted on how you make out!
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
2654 posts
1416 upvotes
Richmond
I think all small business owners sympathize with you.

One the one hand your instinct is to be adamant about not paying a dime for this fraudulent claim, especially since you feel that you have good evidence that it's fraudulent.

On the other hand, it will consume a lot of your time and effort and likely some money. That's why business owners just turn it over to the insurance company and let them deal with it. That's what they're paid for. They might well decide to settle for a modest amount as being cheaper than taking the case to court even if it's a slam-dunk win. And nothing is ever slam-dunk: your witness could go away, your video could be questioned, a judge could come up with some quirky interpretation that you were responsible for clearing snow and ice on the adjacent lot because you should have known that some of your customers were parking there and you didn't post a sign saying not to park there.

Please come back and post updates as the case progresses.
Deal Addict
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Dec 30, 2007
4048 posts
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this is all very interesting actually, but arent you worried the other guy or his lawyer might lurke around here and read you strategy?
Sr. Member
Sep 16, 2006
671 posts
82 upvotes
Pickering
Do you have contacts in the Mafia? Just send this guy over to the litigant's house:

Image

"You know, you can sue if you want to. We don't care. By the way this is an awful nice house you got here. Would be a shame should something happen to it."

(jks)
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
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Richmond
urir10 wrote:
Jul 20th, 2017 4:39 pm
this is all very interesting actually, but arent you worried the other guy or his lawyer might lurke around here and read you strategy?
What strategy? Either he turns it over to his insurance company, or he refuses to pay and fights it himself. The complainant will know soon enough which he chooses. As for evidence, it is required to be disclosed prior to trial in order to ensure a full and realistic review by both parties and allow opportunity for withdrawal or settlement out of court. It's not some TV show where you surprise the other side with your shocking video evidence or unexpected witness in court. :)
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 5, 2017
8 posts
18 upvotes
Op here. So it has been one week and one day since they called and asked for my insurance company information. They said they would be serving me notice. Nothing so far. I'm probably jinxing it by saying this

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