Visitor Question

I fell badly on an icy staircase outside a commercial building…

Submitted By: Maria (Fort Lee, NJ, USA)

It was Sunday night in Fort Lee, NJ. There was already piles of frozen snow/ice on streets and that night it was starting to snow an inch or 2. I went into a cafe to buy a latte with a friend. I got out and took the building’s staircase that was near. As I took my first step down, I flew and fell right onto my back and arm, my coffee flew right out of my hand.

The impact was quite strong, since I fell on top of a very icy, lumpy staircase. I looked back to see the staircase and it was full of frozen ice that had accumulated, up to the point there were icicles coming down. I didn’t get to take any pictures yet and didn’t get to see a doctor, since I’ll be going tomorrow. However, I have a witness of the fall.

I feel like I got some kind of nerve damage and I’m in pain. Hopefully I don’t get any herniated discs due to this fall. What are usually the costs to get an attorney to take this case, and how much compensation would I receive around? Would this even be worth it? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Maria,

Maria (Fort Lee, NJ, USA:

The good news is you don’t have to pay any legal fees or costs in advance. Almost all personal injury attorneys accept injury cases on a “contingency fee” basis. This means the attorney provides all the initial funding for your case. He’ll accumulate evidence supporting a settlement, and if an expert medical witness is required, the attorney will pay the expert’s fees.

Because your personal injury attorney will be working on a contingency fee basis, you can be confident he will pursue your case with vigor. If the attorney is unsuccessful settling your case, or winning it at trial, you will owe him nothing. The attorney will be burdened with the costs.

Alternatively, if your attorney is successful settling your case with the insurance company, or winning your case at trial (if the case can’t be settled and a lawsuit becomes necessary), he will take his fee from the settlement amount. In most cases, the contingency fee is 1/3rd, or 33.3 percent of the settlement amount. The costs related to your case will also be deducted from the final settlement.

In your case, the settlement amount will be depend mostly on the nature of your injuries, and resulting medical bills. For example, if your injuries are “soft tissue,” meaning you sustained sprains to your ligaments or tendons, or minor bruising, then your medical bills will not be as high as those for a “hard” injury.

In your case hard injuries could include nerve damage or a herniated disk. Treatment for these types of injuries is more substantial, resulting in higher medical bills, and therefor, a higher settlement amount.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 11, 2014

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