A slip and fall accident can happen anywhere at any time. When it does, injuries are often more than just simple bruises. How one falls could lead to devastating injuries, even ones with life-long impacts.
This might have just happened to you, but you don’t know where to turn or what it might do to you financially.
Facing the bills and uncertainty after a slip and fall accident can be a scary time for anyone. However, especially with legal representation, you can recover enough to pay for the expenses and impacts you experience as a result. One of the first questions many slip and fall victims ask is how much of a payout they can get from a slip and fall claim.
What Causes Slip and Fall Accidents?
As noted, there are many potential situations where a slip and fall accident occurs. However, some scenarios are more likely to result in such accidents—such as ice on a sidewalk, parking lot, or tracked inside the building. You can hold an owner or a lessee liable for failing to keep the walkway clear for people who were legally present on the property.
This scenario might not be common in areas with warmer climates. Instead, slip and fall accidents can happen as the result of other forms of carelessness. For instance, a business may fail to dry up wet spots in an aisle, leading to a slip and fall accident.
Other slip and fall cases may involve chemicals in a workplace that get spilled without warning, causing someone to slip. These can be especially hazardous, given the added injury one can sustain by falling into caustic chemical substances.
Typical Payouts for Slip and Fall Accidents
In most personal injury cases, which include slip and fall cases, victims can get some payout. A payout might come from an out-of-court settlement or a court award of damages after a trial.
Of those who get a payout, funds generally proceed from negotiating a settlement with an insurance company. Cases rarely go to trial. The amount of a payout in slip and fall cases varies widely. It may be anywhere from a few thousand to millions of dollars. The amount largely depends on the severity of a victim’s injuries.
There are two types of compensatory damages slip and fall victims may recover—economic and non-economic. To answer how much in economic damages a slip and fall victim may recover requires asking how much in tangible expenses they have incurred and are likely to incur in the future.
Your slip and fall medical bills, both those you incur immediately and any you are likely to receive, largely determine economic damages. Economic damages might also consist of lost wages from when you can’t work because of your slip and fall injuries, or any other expenses you incur because of the accident.
Contact an attorney as soon as possible after a slip and fall accident to start determining how much you can recover in economic damages. An attorney can advise you about what records to collect to support your claim. Additionally, attorneys have the resources to gather the evidence you cannot collect yourself. Additionally, it is generally easier to acquire evidence closer to the time of the accident than later.
The other potential compensatory damages in a slip and fall case are called non-economic damages. These damages do not come with a price tag. Lawyers instead base them on less tangible impacts to your life, such as the mental anguish you must go through as you learn to live with your injuries.
For instance, how much pain did you have to endure due to the slip and fall accident injuries? If, as in many slip and fall scenarios, you have severe back pain, you may have a claim for damages for pain and suffering. Though they do not have a fixed price, non-economic harms are serious and can bring great suffering and life-altering changes to a person’s life. Such impacts can result in secondary impacts, such as depression or PTSD.
In most cases, economic damages tend to exceed non-economic damages. Still, you need full compensation for all of your expenses and impacts. An attorney can evaluate the impacts a slip and fall accident have on your quality of life to determine how much to demand in non-economic damages. Many factors can come into play, such as your age, whether you’re married, how the accident injuries affect your earning capacity, and or what, if any, permanent physical limitations you experience.
What happens if you were partly at fault for a slip and fall accident? One major law applicable to slip and fall cases in many states is comparative fault.
Comparative fault plays out differently depending on the state you are in. Regardless, evidence is key to sorting out what happened when you slipped and fell, and whether you were actually responsible, to any extent, for the accident. A defendant and their insurer are almost certain to try to find a way to pin some blame on you.
Even if a jury finds you partially at fault, you still may deserve substantial compensation if the other person or business is largely responsible for the accident.
Policy Coverage by the Negligent Party
In the event you are in a slip and fall accident, the extent of your recovery will be dictated in large part by the policy coverage limits of a defendant’s insurance policy. A smaller business (or an individual) might have smaller policy coverage, which could limit the final settlement you receive to an amount that won’t cover the full extent of your expenses and impacts.
Insurance coverage of bigger businesses typically has higher limits. Though, these businesses often also have providers and legal counsel who will more aggressively defend against claims. If you slipped and fell at a bigger business, you may be able to recover a larger settlement, though you also may have a bit more of a fight to get it.
Those worried about legal expenses during a slip and fall case shouldn’t worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge you anything until they resolve your case successfully, and their fee is a predetermined percentage of whatever amount they are successful in recovering on your behalf. This is known as a contingency fee arrangement.
While a contingency-fee arrangement will draw from your slip and fall payout, the fee percentage is negotiable and, in some cases, your attorney can demand a defendant pay attorneys fees, so that those fees don’t reduce your ultimate recovery. Your recovery may pay some other costs, such as court filing fees that your attorney pays upfront.
Don’t feel unable to pursue your legal rights due to your inability to pay for legal services right away. You can take time to recover from your injuries while your attorney vigorously works on your slip and fall case.
Battling Insurance Companies
The key to a slip and fall payout is most often knowing how to negotiate with insurance companies. Never try to do this on your own. Not only will insurance companies often start with lower offers to self-represented individuals, but they often feel emboldened to deny or reduce a claim that they wouldn’t dare do if a claimant had an attorney.
Many insurance companies attempt to personally contact those injured soon after an accident occurs. They know most people they contact have no legal experience and may feel tempted to accept an immediate settlement offer.
Never take an insurance company’s first settlement offer without asking a lawyer to review it. Initial offers are almost always much lower than what you need to cover all the expenses and impacts from a slip and fall accident. Of course, insurance organizations want to settle early to save money, especially the cost of having to go to trial.
That said, you might get a fair settlement with insurance companies—but only with skilled negotiation. This is why you must hire legal representation, as an attorney has the knowledge and experience to push an insurance company toward an acceptable settlement amount.
Insurance Companies Fighting Your Claim
Some slip and fall cases might involve lengthier legal wrangling with the insurance company. In many cases, the negotiation process goes smoothly. Other times, the insurance company may fight your claim and try to make it look like you were entirely to blame. In these cases, you might need to file a lawsuit in civil court before they will back down and agree to a fair settlement.
Insurance companies often try to argue that a victim’s pre-existing condition before the slip and fall accident accounts for the expenses that a victim is trying to claim compensation for. Because the expenses are due to the pre-existing condition, they argue, they cannot pay you for them.
Another argument, previously discussed, is that a slip and fall victim is partly at fault for the slip and fall accident. If they can establish that a victim was more at fault than their insured, they may try to deny the claim altogether.
In other cases, an insurance company may argue that a claimant exaggerates their injuries and that the victim doesn’t deserve what they demand.
These scenarios can extend the legal work for your attorney, but attorneys know how to handle these arguments. You just need to know that insurance companies can drag out the process and delay you getting a proper slip and fall payout. The stronger the evidence you can gather to support your case, the more quickly your attorney can overcome an insurance company’s arguments against paying out.