Find out the basics of how a slip and fall settlement or judgment is determined. Get an idea of what your claim is worth.
Slip and fall injury claims are common enough that most people have some idea of what they are. They may not be as clear, though, about what kind of compensation they can get from a slip and fall claim or lawsuit. These details are also important for injury victims to understand.
Some people have unrealistic ideas about huge settlements for small personal injuries. Others are shocked to learn that they can recover far more than they thought.
Non-lawyers often think that personal injury attorneys are avoiding a direct answer when they say that the result of a case depends on many factors. We realize this is not easy to hear. But we also owe it to you, the injured victim, to be honest and transparent.
This article explains how to calculate the value of a slip and fall accident claim for the purpose of getting a fair judgment. We’ll discuss the factors that lawyers, courts, and insurance companies look at when coming up with a number.
The factors influencing a settlement are numerous. They include things you’d expect, like the severity of your injuries and amount of medical treatment. They also include things you might not expect, like where your case was filed or the particular judge presiding over your case.
Slip and Fall Settlement Values
While every case is unique, slip and fall claims are usually premises liability cases that depend upon certain facts.
You, as the injured person, are in a public place, home, or business where you have a right to be. The owner of the property failed to ensure that it was safe in some critical way.
Perhaps the floor was wet and slippery or clutter presented a tripping hazard.
Whatever the reason, the most critical factor influencing the amount of the average slip and fall settlement or judgment is showing how the property owner caused that condition. If you have camera footage showing that a puddle of water sat on the floor for three hours before you slipped on it, that will definitely increase the value of your claim.
Similarly, if a property owner’s employee was discourteous or willfully disregarded your safety, evidence of that is key. It not only shows the property owner’s liability, but it may also establish intentional misbehavior or malice that could give rise to punitive damages.
Also consider whether there might be theories other than premises liability that you can pursue.
If you slipped on a bunched-up rug, perhaps there is a manufacturing defect in that rug that may give rise to a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Details like this are important because they may reveal additional at-fault parties and their insurance policies, giving a greater chance of full compensation.
1. Potential Value of a Claim Without Causation Evidence (Less Than $10,000)
The key part of any slip and fall claim will be showing that the person or company you have sued caused the condition that led to your injury. Without solid evidence of causation, the average settlement value for a slip and fall is between nuisance value and a few thousand dollars (less than $10,000).
2. Potential Value of a Minor Injury Claim With Good Causation Evidence ($10,000-$50,000)
Sometimes you have great evidence of causation, but your injuries are not so severe. For example, in one 2018 Maryland case (Ward v. Giant Food LLC), a grocery store’s employees knew that there was a wet floor where the injured person slipped. Nevertheless, the jury only awarded $10,000.
Considering that this award was from a jury rather than a settlement, $10,000 is probably on the low side. The lesson from this case is this: If you have good evidence of causation but less medical treatment, you can probably get more money in settlement than a verdict.
Generally speaking, cases with injuries that aren’t severe with decent evidence will settle somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000.
You may be able to get more money in a settlement if, in addition to causation, you can show intentional or reckless behavior by the defendant or its employees. Good evidence of intentional misbehavior may push a settlement into the high five figures.
3. Potential Value of a Claim With Good Causation and Damages Evidence ($50,000 and up)
If you are seriously injured and you have good evidence of both the fault of the person you’re suing and your injuries, you can recover significantly more money via settlement or verdict.
For example, a slip and fall case in Portland, Oregon resulted in a broken leg and severe disability in an 85-year-old man. He broke his leg and suffered such severe mobility and lifestyle issues that a jury awarded him $600,000 in compensatory damages.
The jury also looked at the evasive and abusive behavior of the supermarket and awarded $1 million in punitive damages.
Now, it’s highly unlikely that the vast majority of cases will reach anything near a $1.6 million verdict, let alone a settlement value. But what this case shows us is that the facts matter. If you can show medical bills and other treatment records to support your injury, along with evidence showing knowledge and fault of the defendant, settlement value can easily reach six figures.
Below are some other major considerations that can affect those potential settlement values.
Damages Are the Heart of Your Claim
Let’s assume that, as a result of a dangerous condition on the property, you fell and injured yourself.
Whatever your specific injury, you will need specific evidence for proper compensation.
For your injury, you need both medical bills and evidence showing your prognosis.
- Do you need future medical treatment or physical therapy?
- Will you be able to work, or will you be permanently disabled in some way?
Evidence of these points is critical if you want to get more than the average slip and fall settlement.
Your bills don’t tell the whole story, though. You likely also have pain and suffering or other non-economic damages. It’s difficult to get hard evidence of pain or suffering, but you need to show an insurance adjuster, judge, or jury the truth. This can come from written statements or testimony by you, your family, or co-workers.
Finally, keep in mind that in cases of intentional or egregious misconduct by a property owner or employee, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Though you would likely not get these as part of the average slip and fall settlement, the high risk of a punitive damages judgment may push a property owner and their insurance company to settle sooner and for more.
Your legal damages will form the basis of any settlement amount you receive, so it’s important that you calculate these correctly and realistically.
Factors You Probably Haven’t Thought Of
Though you may not have known the specifics of the factors discussed above, you probably had some general idea of them before reading this article.
But you probably haven’t considered some of the other factors that can affect a settlement amount.
These can include the other side’s insurer, where a personal injury lawsuit is filed (known as venue), or even the identity of the judge.
Injury victims often don’t consider these kinds of factors, but you can be sure insurance carriers consider them.
1. Will This Carrier Pay an Average Slip and Fall Settlement?
Remember that not all insurance carriers or adjusters look at things the same way. When you speak with a personal injury attorney, ask whether they are familiar with the insurance company and/or adjuster on your case. If you’re dealing with an exacting, precise person, you may need to give more and better evidence to get to settlement.
There are also adjusters and companies that aren’t known for making good personal injury settlement offers on slip and fall cases.
2. Is Your Lawsuit Being Filed in the Right Place?
If you must file a slip and fall lawsuit, give a great deal of thought about where you do so. The rules of jurisdiction usually require that a suit be filed in the courts of a certain state, though there may be options.
For example, if you and the other side are from different states and your personal injury claim is worth more than $75,000, you may be able to file suit in United States Federal Court. For most plaintiffs, however, that’s probably not the best move. Most federal courts are not known for being friendly to injury victims.
In some parts of the country, federal or state courts may move faster than others. In that case, a faster run-up to trial can put more pressure on a property owner or insurance company to settle (instead of paying money to go to trial).
These are complex strategic decisions that differ for every case. Make sure you discuss them with your lawyer.
3. How Is the Judge Going to React to Your Claim?
Once you decide to file a lawsuit, there is another factor to consider: the judge. Even if you asked for a jury trial, a judge can still dismiss your case or grant summary judgment against you before your lawyer even picks a jury.
The vast majority of judges only throw out cases for good reasons. For example, if there is no real evidence that a property owner was negligent, the judge would be right to get rid of your case.
But judges are human. They have their own experiences and biases. Imagine that you file your slip and fall lawsuit and are assigned a judge known for being excellent. But you find out that before becoming a judge, they were an insurance company lawyer for 20 years.
The property owner’s insurance company might see this as a reason not to settle, because they think the judge will be sympathetic to their side. Whether that’s true or not, ask your attorney whether you can file a challenge or take other steps to get another judge in hopes of settling faster.
Get What You Deserve
Setting your case up to get a better-than-average slip and fall settlement amount takes a lot of work and some luck. Hopefully, having a better understanding of some factors that go into the process will give you some more comfort with it.
If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall injury, don’t do this alone. Make sure you get quality legal advice. Contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer in your state for a free case evaluation.
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