An Alaskan worker strains his back after being chased by a polar bear. A couple claims to find a matching pair of earrings in different chicken necks upon which they were dining. A gas station cashier files a claim for injuries sustained when a monkey goes wild in the station’s store.
Any Crawford & Company® or Broadspire® adjuster can attest to the fact that although many of their claims are routine, others are unforgettable by being gross, sad, scary or downright absurd.
The animals in the following accounts, when alive, aren’t cute and cuddly. And the claimants and ancillary characters aren’t always kind either, including gun-wielding marshals and not-so-honest people hoping to earn a quick buck.
Just another day in the life of an adjuster? Hardly.
Let’s start today’s blog with a handful of interesting claims from the 49th state.
Mosquitoes and Dog Sleds and Bears, Oh My!
Rose Etheridge is a Broadspire senior claims examiner who lives in Alaska, where she also covers claims. She is no stranger to interesting claims, many of which revolve around the largest state’s plentiful wildlife.
“What makes Alaska so unique and sometimes stranger than fiction on today’s reality shows also makes it an interesting place to handle workers compensation claims,” said Etheridge, whose office is based in Anchorage. She’s covered claims involving allergic reactions to mosquito bites, which have been known to swarm during their springtime hatching season in Alaska; broken teeth of a fisherman hit in the face by a frozen, 40-pound king salmon; and even moose tramplings.
But here are some of her most memorable claims handling experiences:
- A journeyman electrician slipped and twisted his knee while being chased by a mother grizzly bear, ever-protective of her three cubs.
- A tradesman strained his shoulder while stranded at the top of a telephone pole by a mother bear (also called a sow) that wouldn’t let him descend.
- A polar bear rooting through a dumpster charged a North Slope oil worker as he attempted to dispose of a heavy bag of garbage. He dropped the bag and fled, straining his back en route.
- A musher employed by a dog sled touring company broke his arm when the runaway dog sled team at his helm tipped over the sled.
In Alaska, Etheridge is prepared for any kind of claim—wildlife-related or otherwise.
Hold the Dogsicle, Please
Susan Szeto, team manager and quality assurance supervisor for a Broadspire dedicated service center in Memphis, TN, has a dog-related claims story that has nothing to do with sleds.
The claim was made by a dog owner whose pet was run over in the street and killed by a truck. “When I spoke to the claimant’s daughter about the claim, she wanted me to come to North Carolina to see the dog—that was preserved in the freezer, tire tracks and all.”
Since a witness found the dog deceased in the street and not on the claimant’s property, the claim was denied.
“This was around Thanksgiving,” Szeto said. “I thought to myself, I hope they turn on the light when pulling food out of the freezer.”
After 42 years with Crawford & Company, Tim Wolfe, vice president and account executive, Indianapolis, has handled thousands of claims, but none as noteworthy to him as the following.
Wolfe was helping a trucking company client locate a driver who had signed a contract to haul and deliver a load of steel to Houston. After the agreement was made, the driver decided he wasn’t being paid enough and was miffed when his request for more money was turned down. After offloading and storing the cargo without permission, the trucking company asked Wolfe to track down the driver on their behalf.
Once he met up with and located the driver, Wolfe encountered a surprise. “Here comes a township marshal with a .357 magnum and two other guys who yell out, ‘Halt! FBI!’ It was like Barney Fife! And the most upsetting part was the trucking company didn’t tell us that they had called in the police.”
The truck driver was charged with theft of interstate commerce, while Wolfe was caught in the proverbial line of fire.
Livin’ on a Prayer
Just last month, Indianapolis adjuster David Henschel witnessed claim-related drama while attending a mediation on behalf of a client. The plaintiff attorney, known for his flamboyance and for pushing the envelope, let the assigned mediator know his client would settle the claim for $225,000. Henschel and the defendant attorney countered with a final offer of $200,000.
A few minutes later, Henschel responded to a knock on the conference room door. “I opened the door and kneeling on the floor was the plaintiff attorney with his hands held in prayer,” Henschel said. “Looking into the heavens, he begged, ‘Please give me another $25,000, and we can all go home.’ “
The defendant attorney stood his ground, and the case did not settle.
Naked and Afraid
Broadspire’s Ken Hubin handled a claim for a client who at the time of incident was filling out paperwork in his van. He heard and felt a giant thud, while the van reverberated around him.
“A naked lady either fell or was pushed off of a hotel pool roof, landing on this client’s work vehicle 15 stories below,” recalled Hubin, claims manager for the Broadspire Risk Technical Center, Berkeley Heights, NJ. “It led to a mental stress claim (for the man in the van) that wasn’t settled for years later.”
The woman did not survive.
What Happened to My Car?
Speaking of damaged vehicles…Claims Adjuster Elena Lopez Bo of Murcia, Spain, handled a claim for a car owner whose vehicle was damaged beyond repair. The claimant was visiting a fireman friend during his shift. The claimant parked his car at the fire station with the keys inside, in case the firemen needed to move it.
“The firemen thought it was a car to practice rescues with, so they broke the doors, the safety belts and even the roof,” Lopez Bo said. “They were pretending it was a car accident in which they had to rescue the trapped passengers inside.”
Needless to say, the car was totaled and the claimant needed a ride home.
Earrings and Chicken Necks Don’t Mix
Darlene Pendleton, casualty claims adjuster in Allentown, PA, once denied a claim in which the claimant alleged he and his wife were dining on collard greens and chicken necks when they found a matching pair of earrings in separate chicken necks.
The chickens are raised on a farm among thousands of chickens, all of which must pass through a metal detector during processing. “They would not have made it undetected with earrings in their necks,” Pendleton said. “I was waiting for the claimant to come up with a matching necklace.”
Not-so-Funny Monkey Business
Susan Litchy, a Broadspire workers compensation claims examiner in Minneapolis, once handled a claim involving a monkey gone awry.
A man entered a gas station store to pay for filling up when he told the cashier that his passenger was a pet monkey. The cashier requested he bring the monkey inside so she could hold it. Another customer entered the store, causing the door to ring and sending the monkey into a frenzy.
“The monkey got scared, promptly went berserk in the cashier’s arms—biting and scratching,” Litchy said. “The employee recovered. The monkey’s emotional recovery…unknown.”
Impaled by a Tree
Broadspire Senior Claims Examiner Tracey Woznak of Fairfax, VA, once settled a claim for a tree service company in which an employee was impaled by a tree roughly three inches in diameter. Woznak was working in Michigan at the time.
The injured man, who was surrounded by a safety cage on the machine he was riding, was clearing saplings from a remote field when one slipped through an opening in the cage, striking him in the hip and pinning him to the seat, unable to reach the brake. Like a giant, lethal toothpick, the sapling traveled up through his torso and nicked an artery.
“I’ll never forget it,” Woznak said. “He was a very nice claimant; we settled and made a recovery on a product liability claim.” Although the injured employee was unable to return to his job, he survived.
Heather Resendez, a claims adjuster in Atlanta, received a call during her pre-Crawford® days from a man whose 89-year-old brother died two days prior. The caller wanted to know when he would receive a check from his brother’s life insurance policy. The deceased had been driving at a high rate of speed when his 22-year-old girlfriend stabbed him in the chest during an argument. A stipulation in the policy prohibited payout since the death occurred during a crime.
“The insured passed away from injuries, his girlfriend was in a jail hospital, the vehicle was impounded by the police, and all the brother wanted to know was how quickly we could settle the claim and issue him a check,” said Resendez.
One Man’s Trash, Another Man’s Treasure
Multiline Adjuster Steven Horschel, Maitland, FL, handled an unusual claim years ago during his pre-Crawford days.
A California car dealership sent three new cabs & chassis to another company to install the equipment necessary to make them into garbage trucks. The installer then sold the garbage trucks to the county without buying them from the dealer, Horschel explained. The dealer wanted the trucks back or money for them, and the installer refused.
The claim went to court but was denied because the dealer could not produce a contract stating what the body installer was hired to do. Since the county didn’t know the garbage trucks were stolen, it did not have to return the trucks back to the dealer, either.
It just goes to show you, crime sometimes does pay.
What is your most interesting, unusual or memorable claim? Let us know below!