What You Need to Know About Slip and Fall Settlements
Slip and fall settlements are complex. The National Floor Safety Institute states that 8 million emergency visits per year are related to slip and fall accidents. Slips and falls are also the leading reason for workers’ compensation claims.
Injury can be no fault of another person. One-in-three people over the age of 65 fall in their home every year. But injury can also be caused by the negligent act of a property owner, worker or manager.
Your slip and fall case will need to be examined by a lawyer to determine if you have a case.
If you have a case, there is a lot to know about slip and fall settlements. I’ll cover a lot of the questions that my clients have had when they pursued settlements.
Understanding Claim Values
Claims are based on the negligence of another person. If you fall in your own home due to your own negligence, you won’t be able to sue someone else. But, when you slip and fall on someone else’s property, you may be able to seek a settlement under premises liability.
When pursuing a settlement for a slip and fall injury, a law firm will try and determine the value of a potential settlement.
I’m going to assume you have a valid claim that you’re now trying to determine the value of prior to pursuing the case.
Medical Bill Consideration
If you slip, fall and get right back up with no injuries at all, you won’t have much of a lawsuit to pursue. Medical bills and documentation strengthen your case. When determining the value of a slip and fall lawsuit, your lawyer will try and determine:
- Present medical bill costs
- Future medical bill costs
Your location will play a big role in the medical bill category. Some providers will agree to accept less than the entire amount of your potential medical bills. In other cases, the healthcare provider will want the entirety of the bill paid.
In most circumstances, your case is worth a minimum of the value of your medical bills.
But present and future medical bills are just part of the equation. You’ll find that pain and suffering is also a major consideration. If you fell in a parking lot and broke your back, you may suffer from permanent injuries.
These injuries need to be considered in a settlement.
Pain and Suffering
When pain and suffering is considered, you cannot consider a pre-existing condition into the settlement. The pain and suffering needs to derive from the fall injury. The issue is that it’s very difficult to predict a person’s pain and suffering.
The cost of your medical bills will be a starting point when determining pain and suffering.
An insurance company will often have adjusters evaluate your claim and use a multiplier to determine your pain and suffering. This multiplier, used alongside your medical bills, will be used to determine the value of your pain and suffering.
But a lot of injuries don’t present until well after a slip and fall, so it’s important to consider future pain and suffering.
Using the same example as above, a person may suffer from compressed discs or arthritis in the future, which is pain and suffering that isn’t present right now.
The multiplier in this case may be four times the amount of your medical bills. It all depends on what future pain and suffering you may deal with in the future. If a dangerous condition leads to a lifetime of pain and suffering, you’ll be able to seek much higher damages.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
Your verdict will also have to consider lost wages and lost earning capacity. The jury will first include the wages that you would have earned if you didn’t have your injuries. This is determined from your:
- Tax return or
- Pay stub
An employer will need to verify these values. Your typical salary or wages will need to be provided by the employer. You’ll be able to claim the full value of these lost wages into your settlement amount.
But then comes something that a seasoned slip and fall attorney will be best suited to help you with: loss of earning capacity.
Your injuries, if they’re such that you can no longer perform certain tasks, will cause you to lose some or all of your earning capacity. A person who broke their back may no longer be able to perform certain tasks at work.
So, your attorney will try and determine lost earning capacity.
Maybe you can no longer work as a parcel delivery man, so you’ll need to take a lower paying position within the company or work elsewhere for a pay cut. This means you have lost some of your earning capacity.
You may also miss out on potential raises and promotions.
A personal injury attorney will often hire a vocational rehabilitation specialist to support your claim. The expert will need to evaluate your injuries and how they will impact your earning capacity. Prospects for future work will also be included.
The owner of the premises may have to provide compensation for loss of earning capacity by providing:
- Lump sum value for the reduced earning capacity; and/or
- Payment for training or education in another field
You’re the victim, and if you’re injured, you should consider how your future earnings will be impacted. It’s your right to be made whole again. This means being able to recover damages for your future wages lost.
Incidental expenses can also be provided to the injured party. These expenses are often small, but they add up over time. A good example of these expenses, which should be included in your slip and fall settlement, would include:
- Costs for gas to go to doctor appointments
- Costs related to going to physical therapy
- Costs to buy different shoes that allow you to walk easier with your current injuries
All of these incidental expenses need to be related to your injury in some way. A lawyer will be able to help you determine potential incidental expenses.
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