Visitor Question

Slipped on Steps at Spouse’s Grandparents Home

Submitted By: Anonymous (Waycross, Georgia)

I had a slip and fall in Georgia at my husband’s grandparents’ home. It was raining and the steps were molded. There was a handrail available; however, I was holding our two year old daughter and my foot slipped and I tore the MCL in my knee.

I’ve received $6,307.98 in medical bills as well as $392 in lost wages and $185 in fuel due to the drive to see the doctor.

The homeowner’s insurance adjuster reached out stating I was 35% responsible for the accident because I should have watched where I was going. They only offered me $1,819.30 as a settlement. I did not feel this was reasonable. Am I wrong?

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,

Thank you for your question. Given the total of your hard costs, the adjuster’s offer appears to be unreasonable. You can counter with a higher offer on your own, or talk to a personal injury attorney about your slip and fall claim.

Negligence and Comparative Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases

In personal injury cases, an accident victim can receive compensation if they can prove that some other person or business was negligent for causing the accident.

Negligence essentially means that the person failed to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances.

In a slip and fall event, a victim can normally prove negligence by showing that a property owner knew of an unsafe condition but failed to take reasonable steps to fix it.

If you can prove negligence, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the property owner is 100% at fault for your accident. The owner, or their insurance company, can try to shift some blame for the accident on your shoulders.

Comparative negligence is a type of assertion a property owner can make to show that you were also negligent in your slip and fall accident, or shared the blame for it.

In your particular case, the adjuster says you were 35% comparatively negligent for your accident, or 35% to blame for it.

Under most states’ comparative negligence laws, victims who contribute to causing an accident can still receive compensation from a negligent owner. However, the laws also say that any compensation the victim recovers gets reduced by their percentage of fault in causing the accident.

Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Laws

Georgia’s comparative negligence laws are found under O.C.G.A. 51-12-33 (2010).

These laws state that a person’s overall compensation in a personal injury matter gets reduced by their percentage of fault for causing the accident. So, again, if you were 35% at fault for causing your slip, your final settlement award gets reduced by 35%.

Georgia laws also state that accident victims can only receive compensation if they were less than 50% responsible for their injuries.

Applying the Laws to Your Case

The insurance company can legally claim that your settlement should get reduced by a certain percentage if you helped contribute to your fall. Georgia’s comparative negligence laws allow for this.

Given the facts of your case, the adjuster said you contributed to the accident by carrying your daughter up the wet and moldy steps, so weren’t watching where you were going.

The adjuster’s evaluation of fault is biased. They’re trained to find ways to settle claims for less. A jury might say that a mother carrying her toddler up the stairs in the rain is reasonable under the circumstances, and not a negligent act.

But even if we assume that you were 35% responsible, as the adjuster states, your settlement award should be reduced by this same percentage. But it’s not.

You suffered $6,884.98 in hard costs for your accident. Even with no amount added to account for your pain and suffering, thirty-five percent of this amount is $2,409.74.  This would mean that you should receive a total settlement of $4,475.24.

We have no idea where the adjuster is getting the $1,819.30 figure. If you accepted everything the adjuster said (and we don’t recommend you should) and you truly were 35% to blame for your slip and fall, then you should receive at least $4,475.24.

We strongly recommend you consult an experienced injury attorney to get a clear picture of the correct value of your injury claim, including non-economic damages, and to determine if you actually bear any portion of blame for your slip and fall injuries.

Learn more here: Slip and Fall Knee Injuries

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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