8 Tips for Negotiating Pain and Suffering Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries

Get negotiation tips you can use to convince the insurance company to pay for your pain and suffering after a slip and fall accident.

After you’ve successfully negotiated your “hard costs” with the insurance adjuster, the next challenge is seeking compensation for the pain and suffering caused by your slip and fall injuries.

Hard costs, also called “special damages” by insurance companies, are monetary losses like medical bills and lost wages. Special damages are measurable expenses, backed up by invoices, receipts, and income statements.

Figuring out a value for pain and suffering, also called “general damages,” is trickier because there are no objective ways to measure your pain, inconvenience, and emotional distress following a slip and fall accident.

We’ve laid out helpful tips you can use to negotiate the pain and suffering portion of your insurance settlement after a slip and fall injury.

Tip 1: Know What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering

Technically, “pain and suffering” describes the physical pain and emotional distress you had to endure because of the injuries you suffered from your slip and fall accident.

However, “pain and suffering” has become somewhat of a blanket term for “general damages,” meaning ways you were harmed by the injuries that aren’t measured by a bill or receipt.

Pain and suffering can include:

  • Emotional suffering: Like the distress at not being able to pick up your toddler during recovery
  • Humiliation and embarrassment: Feeling shame for needing help using the toilet because of your injuries
  • Psychological distress: Like an intense fear of falling again, bad dreams, or anxiety

Your pain and suffering claim should be proportionate to your physical injuries. Otherwise, the adjuster might question the validity of your entire claim.

Tip 2: Don’t Expect a Windfall

Severe injury claims, including claims for extreme emotional distress, should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney for maximum compensation.

When you’re handling your own slip and fall claim for minor injuries, understand that insurance adjusters don’t put a high dollar value on pain and suffering from soft-tissue injuries.

Personal injury claim values are often calculated by adding up your hard costs, then adding one to three times that amount for pain and suffering.

Only severe injury claims, handled by a skilled attorney, will get a pain and suffering award as high as five or six times the total hard costs. With permanent injuries, the multiple can be even higher.

If you were lucky enough to walk away from a slip and fall accident with only some bruising and a few days of sore muscles, the adjuster would probably be willing to pay only a little more than your hard costs.

You may be able to persuade the adjuster to pay more towards your pain and suffering if you can adequately explain the hardship and distress your injury caused, and back it up with evidence.

Tip 3: Use Vivid Language to Describe the Fall

You can paint a vivid picture of your pain and suffering caused by the slip and fall without exaggerating the nature of your injuries.

Use descriptive language to describe how falling affected you from the moment it happened. You may have experienced:

  • Terror at falling down the stairs
  • Humiliation at finding yourself on the ground, surrounded by strangers
  • Fear for the safety of children who were in your care when you were injured
  • Agony from the pain of being slammed onto a hard surface

Don’t leave anything out, even your frustration and embarrassment of needing to use the bathroom when you couldn’t even get up off the floor without help because of the pain.

Tip 4: Emphasize Restrictions Arising from Your Injuries

Even a sprained wrist or ankle can cause considerable pain, distress, and limit your activities of daily living. Injury-related limitations may have disrupted your life for several days or weeks.

Use descriptive language to explain to the adjuster exactly how the pain from your injuries and the limitations ordered by your doctor impacted your daily life.

Your general damages might include:

  • Sleeping in a recliner because it hurt to lay flat
  • Nausea, constipation, and other side-effects of medication
  • Inability to prepare meals
  • Inability to care for young children
  • The discomfort of using crutches
  • Requiring help with bathing and other personal care
  • Inability to engage in intimacy with your partner (loss of consortium)

Remind the adjuster that you and your family members wouldn’t have suffered in these ways if it weren’t for the negligence of their insured.

Tip 5:  Provide Evidence of Your Pain and Suffering

Insurance adjusters aren’t impressed by soft-tissue injuries like bruises and sprains. They always suspect the claimant is exaggerating their pain and suffering.

It’s not enough to tell the adjuster you were sore and upset for several days following your slip and fall. You must back up your claim with evidence, such as:

  • Notes in your medical records detailing your pain and limited range of motion
  • Doctor’s orders restricting you from lifting more than ten pounds, or standing for more than a few minutes
  • An injury journal, with dated entries about your pain levels, inability to sleep, and other limitations you endured
  • Witness statements describing the violence of your fall, and your immediate pain and distress
  • A calendar of activities you missed because of your injuries

Tip 6: Mention Future Medical Needs

Even soft tissue injuries take time to heal fully. Joint strains and sprains can remain stiff and sore for a long time. Let the adjuster know if your doctor has said it could “take months to get back to normal.”

Explain to the adjuster your worries about having to be extra careful since the injury, and your concerns about future pain and problems. Mention that your doctor told you to come back for more tests if the injured area continues to bother you.

It’s okay to let the adjuster know you don’t like having to live with anxiety about your health and mobility, through no fault of your own.

Tip 7: Look at the Big Picture

If you’ve talked the adjuster into paying all your hard costs for a minor injury, you’re already in good shape from a claim negotiation standpoint.

Your discussions might get bogged down when you start negotiating the pain and suffering part of your compensation.

While you have other options for pursuing injury compensation if negotiations fail, don’t be too quick to end settlement negotiations. Make an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Factors that might work against your case are:

  • Distractions that might be considered “shared fault” like using your cell phone or running after a toddler when you fell
  • Preexisting conditions that might contribute to your pain and recovery time
  • Lack of credible evidence to support your claim

Even when there’s no question of the property owner’s liability, and you didn’t do anything to contribute to the circumstances of your slip and fall, you should still think twice before refusing to settle your injury claim.

Depending on the amount of money at issue, keep in mind:

  • The insurance adjuster isn’t obligated to pay anything for pain and suffering
  • Lawsuits and alternative dispute resolution can be expensive
  • You might not end up with more money from a lawsuit

Stay calm and don’t lose patience while negotiating with the adjuster. Negotiations require some compromise on both sides.

Tip 8: Talk to an Attorney About Your Claim

When you’re not sure how much you should compromise, or you’re having second thoughts about the strength of your claim, it’s time to consult a personal injury attorney.

You can talk to an attorney at any point in your claim negotiations. It doesn’t hurt to get a professional perspective on the value of your claim and all your compensation options.

It’s amazing how often an adjuster will suddenly raise their settlement offer to resolve a slip and fall claim once an attorney enters the picture.

Most injury attorneys don’t charge for their initial consultation, and there’s no obligation on your part. It costs nothing to find out what an experienced attorney can do for you.

Charles R. Gueli, Esq. is a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. He’s admitted to the NY State Bar, and been named a Super Lawyer for the NY Metro area, an exclusive honor awarded to the top five percent of attorneys. Charles has worked extensively in the areas of auto accidents,... Read More >>