Most property owners understand that it is usually less time-consuming and less expensive to settle slip and fall cases out of court, just like other cases. Courts involve a lengthy trial and rigorous process that could cost you a lot of money in terms of personal injury attorney charges.
However, even though many slip and fall cases settle out of court, it is good to understand that each case is different, and the outcome will differ depending on specific circumstances and facts.
If you have sustained any injuries in a slip and fall accident, you will need to know what you are likely to receive in your claim. Therefore, here we look at how much is your slip and fall claim worth to make sure that you are well-informed on what you deserve in your settlement.
Common Injuries Associated with Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can lead to minor injuries like bruises or bumps, severe injuries, and even disabilities and death in some cases. There are many injuries that can result from slip and fall accidents, but some are quite common. These injuries involve various parts of the body, including the neck, back, head, and pelvic area.
- Head Injuries
Slip and fall accidents can result in concussions or severe traumatic injuries to your brain, which could lead to a number of complications. Brain injuries may lead to mobility, memory, and balance issues or result in behavioral or cognitive issues.
- Back and Neck Injuries
In some cases, slip and fall accidents may lead to slipped or broken disks along the spinal column and lower neck. This can result in chronic pain that may require surgery or lead to a debilitating condition that makes it impossible for you to resume your daily activities or return to work leading to lost wages.
- Torn Ligaments and Tendons
When falling, it’s natural for everyone to try to support or catch themselves to avoid hitting the floor. However, the quick response can make the injuries more severe rather than stopping you from falling or experiencing any problem. You can easily tear your tendon or ligament when using your knees, hands, or feet to avoid falling after a slip.
Torn ligaments and tendons may require physical therapy or surgery to treat and heal completely. However, in severe cases, such injuries may lead to life-long complications that never heal completely.
- Pelvic Injuries
Many of the slip and fall accidents lead to cracked pelvises or broken hips since most of the victims of these injuries are the elderly. Pelvic injuries are extremely painful and mainly require invasive surgery to treat and extended nursing time.
Types of Slip and Fall Cases
Slip and fall accidents occur in places with wet and slippery surfaces, snowy or icy parking lots, and other locations, such as cluttered areas, walkways, ditches, damaged areas like stairs and floors, and potholes. These locations include business and residential properties. Slip and fall can result in severe injuries, permanent disabilities, and even death in some cases.
Factors that Determine a Slip and Fall Settlement
When it comes to determining the outcome of slip and fall cases, there are three major questions that you need to ask yourself;
- Who is ultimately liable for the accident?
- What kind of negligence contributed to the accident?
- Was the injured person partially responsible for the accident in any way?
Here we look at the key factors that will help you answer the main questions in determining the outcome of the cases.
Usually, a business owner or property owner would assume liability for an injury that results from an accident that happens in their business premises except in cases where they have insurance that covers the liability. To prove a person is liable, you must make sure that they have a legal responsibility for any property and property occurrences.
The insurance company assumes the liability for any injuries that occur on the property of the insured. Therefore, if the employer or the owner has liability insurance, the plaintiff should file a lawsuit against the company (insurer) and not against the insured.
Negligence occurs when a person fails to act in the way a reasonable person would do, which includes disregarding the safety of others. Some slip and fall accidents are caused by leaking ceiling, potholes, or uneven surfaces.
In the assessment, the key attribute would involve finding out whether a reasonable person would have considered the condition as potentially hazardous or dangerous. It would also involve determining whether the person with the legal responsibility for the liability had enough opportunities to improve the conditions in order to avert the accident.
Moreover, the assessment would also seek to determine whether the property owner or the liable person caused the dangerous situation while knowing that it would cause a person to suffer an injury. In a slip and fall case, the factors that determine negligence include conditions like:
- Limited visibility
- Poor lighting
- Lack of reasonable justification
- Lack of company policy enforcement
- Broken or uneven staircases
- Slippery or wet floors
- Cluttered common areas
- Uneven sidewalks
Unfortunately, plaintiffs are charged with the responsibility of proving that the person with the legal responsibility had the chance of taking other actions to avert the danger of the accident. The plaintiffs must prove that the property owners are liable even though there was a valid reason for the obstruction to be placed at the location.
They must show that the justification was not valid when the accident took place and that the property owner did not take any preventive measures to prevent the accident.
The facts of the case will provide the necessary declarations and affirmations that help determine the level of negligence involved, but the burden of proof remains with the plaintiff.
3. Plaintiff’s Freedom from Contribution or Fault
The plaintiff must be free of fault in order to place the liability on the defense side even though there were conditions that lead to the accident. In case the injured person contributed to the occurrence of the incident in any way, they must accept responsibility, which means that the business or property owner is not fully responsible.
Unfortunately, the plaintiffs will not receive any settlement if the accident occurred in states that apply contributory fault laws if there is proof of slight or any degree of blame on their part. If it happens in states that enforce comparative negligence laws, the plaintiff will receive their settlement even in cases with proof of partial negligence.
The warnings, engagement, and access provided to the injured person determine partial liability on their side. For instance, if the plaintiff was distracted by texting or talking on the cellphone, this may be considered a personal liability.
If the accident occurred in a restricted area where the injured person disregarded warning signs or was not allowed access, this could also be deemed a partial liability.
Categories of Compensation
In most cases, general compensatory damages are offered to the injured persons involved in slip and fall accidents. The damages serve as compensation for the non-monetary damages that resulted from the injuries sustained. These dames include:
- Mental anxiety
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
However, if the injured person incurs monetary expenses due to the injuries, special compensatory damages are offered. These compensations seek to restore the plaintiff’s financial situation and make them get back to their position before the accident. Special compensatory damages include:
- Attorney fees
- Medical bills
- Necessities and household bills
- Future medical services cost (if necessary).
5 Ways to Prove Fault and Win Personal Injury Settlements
Just like other personal injuries, winning a slip and fall lawsuit requires you to prove who is at fault for your injuries clearly.
Here we look at 5 steps to help you prove who is at fault in your slip and fall claim:
1. File Accident Report
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you should file an accident report just like what you would do in a car accident. Speak with the property owner or the manager if the accident took place on a commercial property and then file an accident report.
Moreover, make sure that your report captures all the key details about the accident, such as where exactly did the accident happen (example: which part of the building stairs) and what was the cause of the accident (for example, leaking pipe, water spot, slippery floor and much more). An accident report helps document the date of your injuries and, most importantly, the cause of the accident.
It also helps in establishing a direct link between the accident and your injuries. For instance, if you indicate in your report that after your accident, you started experiencing joint pains and muscle aches. It is reasonable to assume that your injuries resulted from your slip and fall accident and are not due to a pre-existing condition.
The evidence captured in the report makes the property owner legally liable, which allows you to be compensated for pain and suffering, among other damages. However, you should talk with the manager or the property owner before filing a claim since most businesses carry liability insurance for their premises that take care of such lawsuits.
2. Visit Your Doctor
Once you file an accident report, you should visit your doctor to get care for your injuries or potential injuries. Additionally, visiting a doctor lets you identify injuries that are not obvious, such as those requiring further testing, such as MRIs and X-rays.
When it comes to the benefits of your slip and fall lawsuit, visiting a doctor makes sure that your injuries are diagnosed and documented by a medical practitioner. I can honestly tell you that you will rarely find an insurance company that takes your lawsuit seriously if you do not present a medical report.
Medical reports provide a more accurate description of your injuries, making it easy to determine their severity. For instance, saying that you suffered a leg injury is not strong as presenting a medical report indicating that you suffered a hairline fracture in your right fibula. The medical report statement makes your injury look more legitimate and serious.
Besides, a medical report enables an insurance company to determine the severity of the injuries and the value of your lawsuit.
So be smart and safe. Visit your doctor for a medical checkup.
3. Track Your Medical Expenses
The cost of your medical bills determines the amount of settlement in your injury claims. An insurance company gauges the value of your settlement using the medical bills. For instance, if a person suffered severe injuries, you can expect the medical bills to be much higher while those who suffer minor injuries will have lower bills, which means that they do not deserve a high settlement.
However, this does not mean that you mislead your doctor or try to inflate your medical expenses artificially. You must understand the factors that determine the amount you receive in your slip and fall settlements and act accordingly.
Make sure that you track all your expenses in order to receive an adequate settlement. Medical expenses should include the cost of visiting your doctor, ambulance ride, pain medication, and referrals to any specialists.
4. Document Your Pain and Suffering
Apart from medical expenses, your settlement should compensate for your pain and suffering. Determining the value to be attached to your pain and suffering can be a daunting task, but you still need to track and express your physical and emotional anguish to get a fair settlement.
You can track your pain and suffering by explaining how the injury has impacted you personally and financially. For instance, if you enjoy playing any game, you slip and fall on a business premises like a grocery store and break your ankle.
You can argue that your injury will cause you to miss a lot of fun moments and experience lost wages as you will be unable to work for months.
5. Take Picture/Videos
Take plenty of videos and pictures at the scene of the incident. Try to capture how unsafe and hazardous the conditions were where you slipped and fell. Taking pictures and videos makes it easier for you to show fault in your lawsuit.
Check if there is any clear and visible sign that warns people of the danger around the area. You can also come after some days and see if the owner made any precautions around the area. If no visible changes have been made, your injury claim will be stronger as it can serve as evidence for the property owner’s negligence.
Facts & Statistics about Slip & Fall Accidents
Here we look at 5 facts about slip and fall to help you understand the seriousness of these accidents.
1. The average medical costs for slip and fall ranges from $30,000 to $40,000.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports indicate that the average medical cost for these slip and fall injuries usually goes beyond $30,000, while other sources show that snow-related slip and fall injuries cost $33,000 to $48,000 to treat on average. These costs raise insurance costs and, most importantly, cause devastation to the families, which affects the whole society.
2. Over a million people are admitted to emergency rooms for slip and fall injuries each year.
According to research, the number of injured people that require emergency medical care for slip and fall injuries is over one million every year. There are about eight million emergency cases each year in the US alone that result from falls, and 12 percent of the total visits are due to slip and fall accidents.
3. About one-third of adults over 65 experience slip and fall accidents each year.
Older people are more likely to fall and hurt themselves than young people. Besides, adults over 55 years are most likely to sustain more severe injuries in case of slip and fall accidents.
4. About 5 percent of slip and fall accidents lead to broken bones.
According to the statistics, there’s a 5 percent possibility of breaking a bone in slip and fall accidents. A bone fracture can increase your recovery time cause you serious pain and emotional anguish.
Approximately 20 to 30 cases of slip and fall accidents result in severe injuries. Luckily, you may get compensation for the medical bills and pain and suffering when you sustain serious injuries.
5. Slip and fall accidents are the main cause of injury for people in all age groups.
As mentioned above, older adults are more likely to experience slip and fall accidents, but these accidents are the leading cause of injuries for people in all age groups. These accidents are the second most common causes of non-fatal injuries for people within 10-24 years of age, but the leading cause in other age groups.
Average Slip and Fall Settlement
The amount involved in settlements in slip and fall cases depends on various factors, but the average settlement for these cases ranges from $15,000 to $45,000. However, if you suffer serious injuries, your settlement may be higher than the average as long as you have a legally strong case. In case you suffer minor injuries, your settlement may fall below the average.
Slip and Fall out of Court Settlement Amounts
The amounts of settlement for cases solved out of the court differ significantly, depending on the severity of your injuries and the strength of the case. Your settlement should cover all financial losses such as medical travel expenses, medical bills, and lost wages as you could not work for a given time due to the injuries.
Moreover, your settlement should also include compensation for pain and suffering. If you suffer severe injuries, your pain and suffering compensation may be several times bigger than the amount assigned to your economic losses.
Resolving slip and fall cases out of court requires careful negotiations with the responsible party. However, you should first make sure that you have a strong case against the other party to negotiate with the other party strategically. The amount that the responsible party agrees to pay becomes your settlement amount.
Should I Settle My Slip and Fall Claim?
In some cases, the injured person might decide to settle their slip and fall claim themselves without involving the responsible side. However, choosing to settle your claim yourself depends on the relevant circumstances in your case. If the parties involved agree on an approximate value, it would be reasonable to settle your claim.
Settling your claim yourself allows you to save time delays, stress, and expenses involved in taking a case to trial. Nevertheless, you might have some reasons to proceed to trial in some cases, especially if an experienced slip and fall lawyer advises you to do it.
Is a Slip and Fall a Personal Injury?
Yes, a slip and fall is a personal injury as it is a premises liability claim, which falls under this type of injury. Slip and fall injury occurs when an individual trip and falls, leading to emotional and physical injuries.
Can You Sue For a Slip and Fall Accident?
Yes, if you slip and fall suffer an injury due to the hazards on another person’s business premises or property, you can sue the responsible party for the accident. In most states, slip and fall cases that cause injuries and financial losses fall under personal injury laws. You need to talk to a reliable and experienced personal injury lawyer to understand the right way to approach your claims process.
Slip and Fall: Examples of Cases, Verdicts and Settlements
Unlike other types of accidents, proving slip and fall liability can be a daunting task. Here we look at examples of successful and unsuccessful claims in slip and fall cases.
Examples of Damages
Jane slipped and fell on a wet floor in her place of work. While dismissing the claim, the court ruled that the property owners are not responsible for providing a remedy when water gets into the building in rainy weather. They also added that the property owners are not required to provide floor mats or mop-up water on wet days.
Donald slipped and fell on a sloping walkway while touring the University of Chicago. In his defense, he said that he had not seen the icy condition on the walkway that led to the accident. The court dismissed Donald’s claim after trial as he was unable to prove the duration of the time the condition existed and the dimensions of the patch before his fall. Moreover, the jury further added that the property owner’s failure to remove the icy patch did not constitute negligence as there were no complaints about it.
Smith, a digital marketing expert, fell during a presentation in his workplace and suffered a fracture on the ankle and other injuries that required hospitalization. The plaintiff team discovered a puddle on the patio of the premises. During the trial, the plaintiff argued that the premises’ poor condition was the cause of the accident that led to the injuries. The parties settled the case after trial, and he was awarded $125,000 as compensation for the damages.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall cases are difficult as it is hard to prove the liability. A reliable and experienced personal injury lawyer will help you in your settlement and ensure that you get what you deserve as compensation for your damages. The personal injury attorney will help in the following ways.
- Building a strong case
- Advising you on whether to proceed with the trial or accept a settlement
- Establishing contact with the defendant and skillfully take part in the negotiation process
- Drafting settlement paperwork
- Make sure you collect your judgment on time