How Much is the “Average” Slip and Fall Claim Worth?
Slip and fall accidents are common personal injury accidents resulting from a property owner having dangers present on their premises that can cause people to slip and injure themselves. Some hazards that can cause a slip and fall accident include wet floors, exposed wiring, uneven floors, loose tiling, missing steps, etc. A property owner that negligently allows these hazards to remain can cause a slip and fall accident and be liable in a slip and fall claim.
If you were to take all the settlements and awards in slip and fall accidents, add them together, and divide them by the number of slip and fall claims resolved through settlement negotiations or a verdict, you still wouldn't have an average of how much a slip and fall lawsuit is worth.
Every accident is different, so averages never apply. To understand the true value of your slip and fall case, you should contact a slip and fall attorney. They can calculate the damages caused by a property owner's negligence and determine what amount of compensation can help you get back on your feet.
What is a Slip and Fall?
The type of accident colloquially termed a “slip and fall” actually refers to several different types of accidents. In general, someone can either slip and fall on a slick surface or trip and fall because of a hazard like a loose cable or debris.
An example of a slip and fall would be if someone spills a soda at the local supermarket, and the liquid causes you to slip. A trip and fall accident can also occur, as you might if the carpet on an inadequately tacked down hotel floor. Thus, not every fall case is one and the same.
There is also an accident known as a “step and fall,” where a person might step in a hole on inadequately maintained stairs or an unexpected low spot on a dark sidewalk. These fall under slip and fall law. Thus, fall cases can relate to any instance where a hazard takes a person off their feet and causes them to crash on the ground, such as slips or trips over a fixed object, fluids, and many other impediments or obstacles.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Common hazards that property owners can neglect to address can cause slip and fall accidents. It is important to remember that just because these conditions may exist on a property and can cause a slip and fall, they do not immediately mean that they result from a property owner's negligence.
The following are some of the causes of a slip and fall accident:
- Wet flooring
- Uneven flooring
- Loose power cables
- Poor lighting
- A lack of handrails and similar safety barriers
- Loose carpeting
- Freshly waxed or mopped floors
- Open drawers or cabinet doors that block walkways
What Type of Injuries Do Slip and Fall Accidents Cause?
Slips and falls may sound mild, but they can cause severe injuries with long recovery periods. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and fall accidents account for over one million hospital emergency department visits in the U.S. each year, involving some of the most serious injuries a person can experience.
Slip and fall injuries can range from bruises from slipping on a wet floor to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or spinal cord injuries sustained in a fall down a flight of stairs. According to the National Safety Council, roughly 800,000 people go to the hospital annually because of injuries sustained in a fall.
The following are some of the injuries that can result from a slip and fall injury:
- Bone fractures: The pressure and force projected onto the bones during a slip and fall can result in a broken bone. Broken hips are common during slips and falls, especially in individuals older than 65. Statistics show that only about half of all individuals over 65 suffering this type of injury will ever be able to return home or live independently after the injury. Other commonly broken bones in slip and fall accidents include the elbows and wrists. This is often the result of the body's instinct to “catch itself” when falling by extending the arms.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Falls are one of the leading causes of TBIs, which damage the brain through a jolt to the head or body. The brain is one of the body's most essential organs, as it controls the functions and involuntary responses of the rest of the body. However, despite its importance, the brain has only a limited ability to heal after injury. This often results in permanent deficits such as memory loss, difficulty with communication, the inability to move in a balanced, coordinated manner, or the inability to control one's behavior or impulses.
- Spinal cord injuries: Falls are also a major cause of spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist and relays messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis, a loss of sensation and function below the injury. An individual who suffered a spinal cord injury in the cervical (neck) area will generally experience paralysis from the neck down, which is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. Those suffering an injury lower on the spinal cord will often lose function and sensation in the lower extremities, a condition known as paraplegia.
- Soft tissue injuries: These can include SLAP tears, strains and sprains, and other damage to the muscles, tendons, and cartilage. Jointed areas are at particular risk of injury, including shoulders, elbows, and knees. Severe damage can occur to the knees from twisting or wrenching the joint during a fall.
- Skin lacerations: A laceration is essentially a cut or tear in the skin that can range from a short and shallow scrape to a life-threatening gash in a person's body. These types of injuries are normally caused by impact from a sharp object and cause major bleeding. Slip and falls can also cause other injuries to the skin, including abrasions, punctures, avulsions, and scars.
How Premises Liability Affects Slip and Fall Lawsuits
Slip and fall accidents fall under the category of premises liability law. A business property owner, under Florida law, has a duty of care to their customers and to the public. The property owner is responsible for seeing that their premises—the places they do business—are reasonably safe. There should be no areas where public members could receive harm through no fault of their own.
Property owners should maintain their premises in a safe condition. In a store, for example, there should be no spilled liquid. In a hotel, there should be no lumps in the carpet that anyone could trip over. In rental properties, spaces should be well-maintained. There should be no low places where someone could trip on a sidewalk or holes or defective places in stairs where anyone could trip or slip.
Owner of Property Has A Duty to Keep The Area Safe
A property owner must keep their premises safe and be aware of new dangers that can result in a fall accident. However, not all property owners always maintain their premises safely.
Store owners and landlords sometimes put off maintenance. Profit is often the biggest motivator, and a property owner may opt to cut corners and save costs. If they allow their premises to become unsafe, they have breached the duty of care. The breach in the duty of care means they were negligent in their duties as property owners, which contributed to the fall accident.
It is negligence that creates liability for a fall accident resulting from the breach of duty of care. If an owner can be proved negligent, and that negligence caused an accident which in turn caused you to be injured, you can bring a suit for a slip and fall under premises liability law.
An experienced premises liability lawyer has likely dealt with countless fall accidents. This is what makes a fall case so inherently difficult. It is often necessary to retain an expert to demonstrate how the property owner deviated from the standard of care in a fall claim.
Reasonable Person Standard Is Used In A Slip and Fall Case
What if the owner believes the premises are safe? After all, it is not unheard of for landlords, for example, to argue that their basement stairs are completely safe, despite a burned-out lightbulb that makes safe navigation virtually impossible.
The law turns to a reasonable person standard in these cases. The premises can be deemed unsafe under the law if a reasonable person would believe them to be unsafe. Most reasonable people, for instance, could agree that insufficient or no light in a basement makes walking up the stairs unsafe.
What if the premises are unsafe or a dangerous condition is present, but some event or action occurs suddenly makes them unsafe? Couldn't the business owner argue that they didn't know the premises were unsafe because they had been previously?
In that case, the law also turns to a reasonable person standard. A business owner is responsible for fixing and responding to events or actions that make the premises unsafe if a reasonable person knew or should have known they had become unsafe.
Remedial Measures By The Property Owner
Part of the owner's duty of care is to fix or remedy the dangerous condition within a reasonable period of time, as well. If someone spills liquid in a grocery store, the manager or employees should clean it up as soon as possible. They can't wait several hours because a court is highly unlikely to consider that a reasonable period of time.
In addition, if a premise becomes unsafe, business property owners should clearly mark the affected area as unsafe. They can place cones, hazard tape, or warning signs so that customers can clearly see the unsafe area.
What is a Slip and Fall Lawsuit Worth?
What is a slip and fall lawsuit worth? There is no one number. A slip and fall settlement amount an accident victim can receive depends on the negligence of the party at fault for the accident, the severity and extent of the injuries, and the impact of the injuries on the victim's life. It also depends on what it cost to treat the injuries, what it will likely cost in the future, and other economic harm suffered by the victim.
Let's discuss the factors that constitute a slip and fall claim's worth—the ultimate amount of compensation. Read on to learn what a slip-and-fall attorney can do for you today. Contact Dolman Law Group today to discuss YOUR case.
How Much Are Slip and Fall Injuries Worth?
When you file a slip and fall claim, your slip and fall lawyer will have to assess the damage caused by your injury. They can calculate the real cost of your injury, so you can ensure you receive a fair settlement that can restore your economic situation back to normal. These damages can include the medical cost, lost wages and earning potential, and pain and suffering caused by the injury.
The most important factors in determining how much your injuries are worth are:
- The severity of your injury. More severe injuries often result in an increase in medical expenses and lost wages. More severe injuries also produce a greater likelihood of permanent deficits that can reduce the victim's earning capacity and often cause more negative impacts to their quality of life.
- The amount of economic damage caused. This is arrived at by calculating the medical bills the person has already incurred. Medical bills include emergency services, treatment at a doctor's office, hospital, surgeries, prescription medication, physical and rehabilitative therapy, prescription medication, and more. These bills may also include those incurred for expenses related to medical and related care, such as assistive walking devices or retrofitting the home if the person has become unable to walk.
- If the person's injuries are also likely to need future treatment: This is an estimate made of the cost of future treatment. If you suffered a severe injury, you may likely need further medical examination or treatment later on in life for which the liable party will have to compensate you. Experts may be called in to testify about the advisable course of treatment and the length and extent of future treatment.
- The monetary value of any wages lost from work: While no life is worth more than another, case values are partially based on financial losses from being too injured to earn an income. It stands to reason, then, that an individual who becomes injured at the peak of his or her career would lose more income than a child who is too young to earn income or a retired person.
- The economic value of lost earning potential: A severe injury may affect how much money you may have been able to make. For example, if you have a hard labor job, you may not be able to return because of the effect of the injury on your long-term physical wellbeing. You can calculate compensation based on how much future money you lost out on because of your slip and fall injury.
- The amount of noneconomic damage caused by the injuries: Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. These are damages without a specific bill or amount attached to them and have more to do with how your life is affected by the injury. This is obviously more subjective than either calculating what has already been paid for medical bills or wages lost, and the amount of pain and suffering varies according to injury.
- How much insurance the at-fault party has: Insurance pays nearly all personal injury settlements and awards. While you may file a claim against an uninsured person and even obtain a judgment in your favor, collecting your compensation would likely prove difficult, as most people cannot afford to pay accident expenses out-of-pocket.
- Your patience during settlement negotiations.: Individuals injured in a slip and fall accident are often anxious to have a resolution in the case, which is entirely understandable. While receiving an early settlement offer from the insurance adjuster is not unusual, receiving an offer that fairly compensates you for your injuries can take a bit of time. Often, the best offers do not come until just before the case goes to trial or even while you litigate it.
- Having an experienced attorney: A slip and fall attorney can seek compensation for your injury, establish a value to your case, determine liability, draft your legal claim, gather evidence, negotiate with the at-fault party's insurance provider, litigate your case, and collect your settlement or award. These services would likely be very hard to perform on your own.
How Do Insurance Carriers Calculate A Slip and Fall Settlement?
There are no hard and fixed rules for how insurance carriers will calculate a settlement for a slip and fall case. Although some insurance carriers will use a settlement calculator, it is not an industry standard. Many insurance carriers will not apply a settlement multiplier. Even the insurance carriers that do, generally factor in the quality of the individual personal injury lawyer or law firm.
Furthermore, the insurance company will also factor in the average jury verdicts for similar cases in the same jurisdiction along with the average settlement range on such cases. There are many criteria (too much to mention here) involved in determining what a fall claim or lawsuit will settle for. Cases settle based on the injuries, whether your slip and fall lawyer can prove the liability of the owner of said property, and the quality of your injury attorney.
Using Multipliers to Calculate Slip and Fall Damages
Insurers often use a multiplier, usually added to the economic costs. A multiplier is usually a number between 1.5 and 5. While this assessment is also somewhat subjective, the lower figures apply to injuries that cause less pain and suffering.
How is this determined? Well, injuries that can be treated and heal fairly simply are considered to have caused less pain and suffering. A sprained ankle, for example, may receive the lowest multiplier, 1.5. Soft tissue injuries generally result in a much lower fall settlement.
A catastrophic injury, such as a spinal cord injury caused by paraplegia, will likely get the highest multiplier, 5. A catastrophic injury changes someone's life irrevocably. A person with paraplegia may be unable to walk again, engage in the activities of daily life again, or work at previous occupations again. They may need around-the-clock care for the rest of their lives.
The multiplier for noneconomic damages is added to the actual and forecast economic costs. Let's say you suffered a sprained ankle, the treatment cost $10,000, and the at-fault party's insurance company determines the multiplier should be 1.5. Your slip and fall is thus worth $10,000 + $15,000 ($10,000 x 1.5), for a total of $25,000.
On the other hand, let's say a friend of yours suffered a spinal cord injury that left him unable to walk or work at a former occupation. So far, his medical bills have totaled $1 million. Surgeons and doctors concur that future medical costs could total another $1 million.
His total wages lost from work was estimated to be $1 million. Given the catastrophic nature of this injury, the multiplier assigned is 5. The total damages are thus going to be: $3 million in economic damages + ($3 million x 5 multiplier) = $18 million
To simplify it...
+ $15 million
= $18 million
Do Any Other Factors Affect What My Fall Injury Is Worth?
Other factors may affect what the injury is worth by influencing how much the multiplier should be. Doctors, for example, don't always agree on the best course of treatment. The costs of one recommendation might be lower or higher than another. Younger people may receive more compensation than older ones for serious and catastrophic injuries because the harm caused will last for a longer portion of their lives and thus cause more pain and suffering.
An injury may have a greater impact on one individual than it would have on another. What if you are a guitarist in a successful musical group, and your slip and fall injury breaks your arm in such a way that you will never attain the proficiency you had before? In that case, courts might consider that the accident and its injuries have a much more serious impact on your life, prospects, and your livelihood than it would have had on another individual.
What Should I Do if I Slip and Fall?
After a slip and fall, there are a number of vital steps that can help you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. By following these steps, you can receive medical treatment, establish a record of the accident, and put yourself in a position to receive compensation for your injuries.
If you slip and fall, there are FOUR IMPORTANT steps you should take:
Take Pictures of Slip and Fall Evidence
Many people have smartphones, and pictures of the area, what caused the slip and fall, and the general conditions of the premises are invaluable evidence. It's also prudent to take pictures of your injuries. If you don't have a smartphone, take notes on what happened, what the conditions were, and when it happened. Pictures play a huge role in determining whether the owner of such property is legally responsible for the harms and losses sustained by the injured person.
Get the Contact Information of Any Witnesses
Any witness or witnesses can perform a crucial role in demonstrating that the defendant is legally responsible. You can have a witness that was there the day of the accident attest to the negligence that caused the slip and fall. An expert witness can also use their experience to bolster your claim by providing specific information about the hazard or injury you suffered.
Alert the Manager of the Premises of the Slip and Fall Hazard
You are doing this so the manager can primarily fix or remedy the situation. Also, a court may question why you didn't bring the situation to the attention of a manager (or staff, if a manager isn't available) before leaving the premises. By making a complaint to the manager of the premises, you establish that the manager knows about the hazard and the accident it caused to prevent bad faith tactics meant to limit your settlement later on.
Seek Medical Attention for Your Slip and Fall Injury
If you are seriously injured (broken bones, lacerations, TBIs, etc.), ask the manager or a staffer to call an ambulance. If not, go to an emergency room or doctor's office immediately to be checked out. Do this even if you don't feel like you sustained injuries.
Serious injuries, such as concussions, often aren't felt by those who suffer them. Get complete records of your injuries and what the doctors found. An injured person must demonstrate their injuries and bills for treatment through objective medical documentation. Consistent medical care that complies with a physician's treatment plan will result in a higher trip and fall settlement.
See Your Own Doctor After a Slip and Fall
In many large business establishments that cater to the public, such as hotels, resorts, and theme parks, doctors or other medical personnel may be on call to treat people who have slipped and fallen. That might sound great in theory, but remember that medical personnel who work for these companies may have an incentive to downplay your injuries.
After all, if the company is liable, the company may have to pay you for treatment and other damages. The companies themselves likely see potential injuries as a risk to their profits and are in the business of managing risk to those profits. They may believe you are not as injured as you are, but whether they believe it or not, they have a vested interest in minimizing your injuries.
The most prudent course of action is to consult your own doctor or an independent doctor or hospital if you are far from home. If you have further questions about what a slip, trip, and fall might be worth, an experienced personal injury attorney can help.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Slip and Fall Accident Claim
Dolman Law Group is a nationally recognized personal injury and civil trial law firm. Our personal injury lawyers have a combined 115 plus years of experience handling slip and fall cases. We have handled over 10,000 personal injury claims and lawsuits.
Furthermore, we have handled over 750 fall cases and are experienced in countering the manner in which insurance defense lawyers defend such claims in an effort to award a small fall settlement. We have had a number of cases settled for in excess of $1 million, and numerous other lawsuits have resolved north of $500,000.
Stanley Gipe is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has tried numerous cases up to and through jury verdict. Less than two percent of Florida Bar members are Board Certified in their particular field. Board Certification connotes Stan is an expert in trial practice. We strongly believe that Stan's experience and prior results lead to higher settlement offers as insurance carriers are well aware that if they fail to make a reasonable offer to a Dolman Law Group client, they will see us in Court.
Matthew Dolman has served as lead counsel on over 1000 serious and often catastrophic injury lawsuits. His colleagues have selected him to Florida Legal Elite (featured in Florida Trend's magazine) on three occasions and voted him as a Florida Super Lawyer on multiple occasions. Matthew is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for obtaining a case resolution in excess of $1 million and $2 million respectively.
Our law firm has the financial resources to go up against any corporate giant. In fact, we have handled lawsuits against Bloomin Brands (Carraba's and Outback Steakhouse), Walmart, Target, Publix, Cash & Carry, Walt Disney World, Hyatt, Marriott, and every conceivable major auto insurance carrier. Our goal is to level the playing field by retaining the best experts necessary to illustrate the harms and losses you have suffered.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765