Visitor Question

Fell on broken step at my apartment…

Submitted By: Anonymous (Euless, Texas)

Five nights ago I fell down the stairs at my apartment, the third stair from the bottom was detached on one side. It was 20:30 and I had a laundry basket in my hand ad proceeded down steps one at a time. When I got to the broke step my left foot landed on nothing and I fell forward on top of the basket. In the process I hit my left side on the railing, twisted my left ankle and knee, and my back won’t stop hurting.

I eventually was able to make it to my truck and take myself to the ER. I had a lot of X-rays with no broken bones, but I sustained a twisted ankle, knee, with a contusion of the hip and elbow. I also called the complex office and left a message on the regular line and the emergency line. The message was very detailed about the stairs and some of the injuries I was experiencing.

I took pictures of the stairs that night, along with several each day after that. I also have video of some of the other tenants walking over the broken step. After leaving notes on a few of my neighbors’ doors that share the same steps, several replied. One acknowledged her husband is the one that fell through them Saturday morning February 24 2018 around 9:45 am, and they notified the office about 10:08 am the same day.

The complex did not put caution tape up until Monday February 26, 2018 and the stair was fixed Tuesday February 27, 2018. The manager emailed me that she had been trying to reach me about the incident that happened on the complex. The manager wants me to bring my medical bills and records of doctor visit. I have contacted a lawyer who wants the case, but at this point I feel that I can negotiate with them.

What would be my first course of action in pursing this? Thank you for any information you can provide.

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.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

While an attorney’s advice and counsel can be helpful in cases of minor injuries, victims with minor injuries can often  competently represent themselves. Your injuries include a “twisted ankle, knee, contusion of the hip and elbow.” These are relatively minor injuries, and are referred to as “soft tissue” injuries.

You can expect reimbursement for your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for medications, the costs of travel to and from treatment, crutches, etc.), lost wages (if applicable), and an amount for your pain and suffering.

In personal injury claims, compensation can range from 1.5 times medical bills, up 5 times or even higher, depending on the seriousness of the injury, the type and length of treatment, amount of lost wages, age, and other relevant factors.

The only real downside for victims representing themselves is the lack of leverage they have when negotiating with the insurance company. Unlike attorneys who are able to pursue a client’s personal injury claim through trial, a victim representing herself will ultimately have to settle for whatever amount the insurance company is willing to pay, and no more.

At a certain point during negotiations the claims adjuster will say “That’s our final offer.” When that occurs, you will be in an awkward position. If you don’t think the amount offered is fair, you’re stuck. You will have to take it or leave it. You have no real leverage. In essence, you have been negotiating with the insurance company in a vacuum.

Based on the facts, it’s realistic to expect the insurance company to pay an amount representing 1.5 – 2 times the amount of your medical bills. It is unlikely you will be able to convince the insurance company to pay more than that.

Gather copies of your medical records and bills, and receipts for your out-of-pocket expenses, along with a letter from your employer verifying the days of work you missed as a result of your injuries and the amount of wages you lost. Contact the insurance company and begin negotiating your claim.

If at any point you become frustrated, you can always seek the advice and counsel of a local personal injury attorney.

Learn more here: Apartment Buildings & Other Rentals

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 with your claim.

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