Far too often, people suffer injuries from slipping and falling on someone else’s unsafe property. Icy sidewalks, wet floors, cluttered walkways – these conditions cause thousands of disabling injuries each year. If you have been hurt in a premises liability accident, you may be wondering how much your slip and fall injury claim could be worth.
Settlement payouts aim to compensate the victim for damages like medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. But how exactly are these amounts calculated? What impacts the final settlement offer? I’ll overview the key factors that influence slip and fall payouts so you know what to expect.
How Severe Are the Injuries
The most important factor is the severity of your injury and required medical treatment. More serious injuries that result in things like broken bones, back injuries, and head trauma typically lead to higher settlements. Minor injuries like sprains and bruises settle for less. The reason is simple – more severe injuries cause bigger financial and personal losses.
Factors like the need for surgery, physical therapy, missed work, and permanent impairments are all considered. The goal is to be fully compensated for past and future medical costs related to the fall. Keep detailed records of treatment expenses, lost wages, and mobility issues when negotiating your claim.
Lost Income Factors In
In addition to medical damages, lost income will impact your potential settlement value. Slip and fall injuries may prevent you from working for an extended time. Calculating these losses accurately is key. Provide pay stubs, tax returns, and documentation of bonuses and benefits to quantify how much your injury has cost you.
Things like reduced hours, demotions, and loss of future earnings capacity should be presented. Be realistic yet thorough here. The settlement needs to cover your complete current and future income losses tied directly to fall injuries.
The Emotional Toll Matters Too
The pain and suffering part of your claim aims to offset the emotional impacts. This includes compensation for things like physical pain, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, reduced mobility, anxiety, and depression. Calculate any costs spent on counseling or therapy addressing these issues.
While harder to quantify than medical bills, your emotional wellbeing matters. Detail how your injuries and resulting losses have negatively impacted your life and relationships. Most insurers recognize this key element of your losses.
Out-of-Pocket Expenses Add Up
Also track direct expenses like medical equipment, modifications to your home due to disability, damage to clothes or devices, transportation costs to treatment, and more. These out-of-pocket costs bear real financial burdens that should be reimbursed. Provide receipts and documentation.
Even small costs here and there create hardship. You shouldn’t have added expenses because of unsafe premises, so list every taxi ride, assistive device, and treatment copay. Ask about your insurance deductible as well. The settlement should cover all accident-related costs.
Look at Comparable Cases
Examining settlements in comparable slip and fall cases helps set expectations. Your lawyer can research cases of similar accident circumstances, injuries, costs, and losses. Past verdicts and settlements, even if not binding, give insight into potential claim value.
Of course, every case has unique aspects too. Don’t just assume you will receive what someone else with a broken wrist did. But understanding reasonable settlement ranges based on case histories is useful for both sides in reaching an amicable agreement.
The Strength of Your Evidence
Another big factor is the available evidence demonstrating who is at fault and to what degree. Strong proof the property owner failed to maintain safe conditions or correct known hazards supports higher claim values. Things like ignored warning signs, no railings, prior slip incidents, absent floor mats, and more show negligence.
Conversely, weak evidence opens debate about whether you assumed some risk by walking in rainy or dark conditions when dangers may have been obvious. Insurers argue this “assumption of risk” defense often. While not a total bar, it can reduce settlement amounts if the poor conditions were blatantly apparent.
How Fault Is Determined and Debated
Settlement negotiation involves detailed “discovery” evidence gathering. This includes interviews, video footage reviews, site analyses by experts, and records requests about past repairs or complaints. Photographs, contracts with snow removal crews, and warning signs also come into play.
Both legal teams debate back and forth about degrees of fault and oversight, as well as reasonable assumptions of pedestrian risk. Witness accounts and technical measurements like slide resistance and lighting levels may be analyzed. Expect exhaustive evidence exchanges between your lawyer and insurance claims adjusters.
The Settlement Negotiation Process
Once documentation is complete, demands and settlement offers get presented from each side. This back and forth negotiation is largely a formulaic dance. Your attorney starts very high, the insurer counters very low, and compromises ultimately meet somewhere in the middle.
Most premises owners carry general liability policies with coverage limits that cap potential payouts. Insurers weigh paying you vs. paying legal defense fees through trial. It is usually more economical for them to settle, avoiding costly litigation. Attrition pushes both sides toward an agreement.
If negotiations hit an impasse, mediation sessions with neutral third-party moderators can break stalemates. Most cases resolve through mediated negotiations before ever reaching actual court trials. Neither party wants to gamble on unpredictable jury verdicts. The bird-in-hand through settlement provides closure.
What I’ve outlined here covers the key elements of how slip and fall settlement calculations get made. Of course, every case has unique aspects which is why professional legal guidance is vital. But in general, the severity of your injury, value of losses, strength of proof, and process of negotiation dictate the results. I hope this overview helps you better understand the factors impacting your potential claim value after being injured in a fall. Getting fairly compensated is the ultimate goal.