When we are out in public, or visiting someone’s home, we have a certain expectation of safety. We trust that the owner of the property we’re on has taken all necessary precautions to ensure the wellbeing of their guests. For the most part, this expectation is well met, but despite our best efforts, slip and fall accidents are quite common.
Being injured is bad enough but being injured due to someone else’s negligence can be particularly distressing. In these instances, a personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the ins and outs of the legal process and receive fair compensation. Every situation is different, and every person deserves someone in their corner.
How are Slip and Fall Settlements Calculated?
When you sue a property owner or business for a slip and fall injury, their insurance company is the one who defends against the claim. Most property owners have something called premises liability insurance which is a type of insurance that covers these situations. It is in the best interest of that insurance company to pay out the least amount of money possible, so they will look for any way to reduce the value of your claim. They also prefer to negotiate settlements out of court which can be difficult to deal with if you don’t have the help of a lawyer which is why enlisting the help of a qualified slip and fall attorney is important. When a lawyer and insurance company determine a fair amount for compensation, damages are organized into two categories: economic damages such as medical bills, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Factors That Determine a Slip and Fall Settlement
There are many variables involved in the amount that a person may be awarded in a slip and fall settlement. Each case has its own details, but they usually rely on some of the same elements.
- Your injuries. Minor injuries that quickly heal such as scrapes and bruises do not receive as much compensation as broken bones. Likewise, major debilitating injuries like dismemberment and paralysis come with much higher personal cost and as such tend to receive much higher settlements. The extent, severity, and prognosis of your injuries play a major role in the resulting compensation.
- Your medical bills. One of the primary reasons for slip and fall damages is to pay off the expenses caused by the injury.
- Your income. If you lose your ability to work for any amount of time due to your accident, then the amount of money you were earning beforehand can be used to calculate how much you might receive in compensation.
- Your daily life. If your functionality or enjoyment of life is negatively impacted by the accident, due to emotional distress, physical pain, or disability, this is factored into the non-economic damages.
- Your liability. If you are at fault in some way for the accident, your damages may be reduced proportionately.
- Your attorney. Of course, what it often comes down to is how well your lawyer negotiates with the insurance company.
What Kind of Damages are Rewarded in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
In a personal injury case, there are two different types of damages that a person can recover for: economic or general damages and non-economic or special damages.
Economic damages are the tangible financial cost of your injuries like medical treatments and lost income. These are accounted for by things like medical bills or paystubs and tax records and are easily calculated.
Non-economic damages are the intangible personal cost, or pain and suffering, like emotional distress and reduced quality of life. These are accounted for by things like therapist testimony or accounts of a person’s daily life and are more difficult to quantify.
What is the Average Slip and Fall Settlement in California?
In California, the average slip and fall settlement has a very wide range. While some smaller cases may receive lower amounts, there are cases that have resulted in hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. There are many factors that determine the final amount of a settlement, but the most important are the nature of the injury itself and the negotiating skills of the lawyer.
How Long Do Slip and Fall Settlements Take?
Insurance companies will attempt to settle most California slip and fall claims, so they do not have to go to trial. Sometimes it depends on the individual claim but going to trial will often work against an insurance company because they try to minimize their liability and damages. If a slip and fall claim goes to trial, it can take several months to years while a settlement can sometimes be reached much quicker.
One factor in determining how long a settlement takes is the person’s injuries. More severe injuries with more expensive treatments or long-term consequences may result in a longer process. Partly because if a case is worth more, the insurance companies are more likely to fight it, which can lead to lengthy negotiations and court proceedings.
Establishing Liability in a Slip and Fall Case
To hold someone accountable for an accident, you need to prove that it was their fault. Property owners have an obligation to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the safety of their property and to warn visitors of potential dangers. The extent of this obligation is held to a reasonable person standard. If there is water on the floor of a shop, it is reasonable to expect the owner to put up warning signs. If there is a staircase, it is reasonable to expect there to be a railing.
What if You Are Partially at Fault for Your Slip and Fall Accident?
If a person is injured on someone else’s property, sometimes, it might be their own fault. They may have been reckless or have ignored the owner’s precautions or warnings. In California, slip and fall damages can be reduced proportionate to the percentage of the plaintiff’s own negligence. This is the pure comparative fault rule.
Should I Try and Settle My Slip and Fall Case?
Going to court is a stressful, expensive, and time-consuming experience. Unfortunately, in some instances, it is still necessary. In some cases, when possible, choosing to settle can be a better option in the long run, if the settlement is carefully negotiated to ensure a fair amount. While it is not legally required for plaintiffs to use the services of personal injury attorneys, it is highly recommended and the option most people take. Not only is it ill advised to take on an insurance company single handedly, let alone while recovering from an injury, but there are also studies that show that personal injury plaintiffs with lawyers often receive almost four times as much in damages as plaintiffs who go at it alone. Having someone who is well versed in personal injury law and experienced with negotiations is a major asset since they know the real value of your claim and are better equipped to handle the insurance companies. It also helps to have someone assist with filing a claim, gathering evidence, and negotiating with insurance adjusters.
Types of Slip and Fall Settlements
There are many types of slip and fall settlements. It is up to the people involved to decide exactly how they want to resolve the situation. But the two types that are most well-known are out of court settlements and structured settlements.
Out Of Court Settlements
Out of court settlements are exactly what they sound like. It is faster, easier, and most importantly cheaper to resolve an issue without going to court. In these instances, the insurance company, the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s attorney come to an agreement as to the fairest amount of compensation. It is often in everyone’s best interest to negotiate and come to a settlement. But sometimes, the insurance company will try to convince the victim to settle right away before they have a chance to find an attorney. Slip and fall attorneys can be an asset in these situations as they can help understand the value of your damages. They know how to deal with the insurance companies and negotiate for the best outcome. Often, the settlement is paid out in a lump-sum, meaning that it is a onetime payment of the entire amount agreed on.
Structured settlements are when damages are paid out gradually over a set period of time rather than a lump-sum. These settlements are often organized to be a single amount paid in quarterly or monthly payments. There are many factors that determine whether a structured settlement is best. Sometimes the court will decide that damages must be paid out in a structured settlement. But it often comes down to the plaintiff’s needs both present and future, and factoring in things like inflation. If the main concern is pre-existing medical bills, then a lump-sum may be best. If the main concern is long term care, then a structured settlement may be better.
It all comes down to knowing what is best for the specific situation at hand and having an attorney who is skilled and dedicated.
Hire an Experienced Slip and Fall Lawyer if You Have Been in a Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and fall accidents are a nerve-wracking experience, and even more so when they result in injury. No one should have to navigate that experience alone. Slip and fall injury claims must be filed within two years, so it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Our firm is dedicated and experienced in personal injury law. If you slipped and fell on someone else’s property and need compensation, contact Mesriani Law Group for a free consultation.
Slip and Fall Settlement FAQs
What is the largest slip and fall settlement?
Slip and fall accidents can have a myriad of outcomes, and on average, the larger settlements tend to pay out much more in damages. There have been extreme cases that have resulted in multimillion dollar payments such as a $15 million settlement from a clinic in Georgia, $13 million from a Lowes in Nevada, and $12 million from a convenience store in Virginia.
What are the basics of a slip and fall case?
The most important elements of a slip and fall case are whether there was a hazardous condition on the property, whether the property owner owed a duty of care to the victim, whether the property owner exercised duty of care in warning visitors about hazardous conditions, whether the victim was injured due to the hazardous condition and the property owner’s negligence.
What happens to your body when you slip and fall?
Slip and fall injuries can range anywhere from scrapes and bruises, to broken bones, to paralyzing brain injury. Each accident is unique, and so are the outcomes. Minor injuries, such as twisted ankles and mild concussions, are the most common. Back and hip injuries are typical as people tend to fall backwards when they slip. When falling forward, it is common to suffer knee and wrist injuries. Sometimes, slip and fall accidents can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, causing more serious damage.