Visitor Question

Stepped on a Nail at Work and Fell Down Steps…

Submitted By: Ralph (USA)

I am a police officer and on 01/30/12 at approximately 5:30 am while at work I stepped on a nail on a stairwell which consequently ripped my boot off.

They had been doing construction on the building, without a construction permit, and had just ripped up the carpeting. I fell approximately 15 feet down about 13 stairs and landed on my head.

Fortunately for me there was another officer at the station who was able to dial 911 for assistance. The work has been stopped by the town’s building inspector because they were working without a permit. I was diagnosed with contusions to my back and head, and a concussion.

Consequently, within three days I had been back to the emergency room for pain twice, and on 02/04/12 while at my residence I had a seizure (which I have no medical history of prior to this incident) from post concussive syndrome. I was just released from the hospital yesterday.

The hospital’s documentation stated the seizure was due to severe trauma to my head from the fall. I have been having a great amount of pain in my head and neck and am unsure whether my seizures may occur again. They have me on anti-seizure medication.

I have pictures of the scene, the boots I was wearing and the nail I stepped on. I also have official documentation from work stating that the reason I fell was due to the nail being on the steps.

Every personal injury attorney I called stated that they take a third of the settlement, but I find this to be unfair.

I have done most of the investigating work for them already and feel that 25% would be more than appropriate. Also, I am going to be out of work for some time due to extreme headaches and body pains.

In your opinion, and realizing that an exact number is impossible to determine, approximately how much do you think a claim of this type would worth for my trouble?

Thanks for your input. Any helpful tips would be greatly appreciated!!

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 Ralph,

Personal injury settlements are based upon the amount of medical bills incurred at or about the time of injury. There are other factors which are also considered…

Those additional factors will include the amount of any lost wages you incurred during your treatment and recovery period, any of your out of pocket expenses such as prescription and over the counter medications, and finally, your pain and suffering. Because all these amounts can be subjective, personal injury attorneys have traditionally relied upon one of several devices:

The most traditional one is a multiple of your medical bills. That multiple can theoretically be anywhere from two to a thousand, or more. For most cases the multiple is between 2x and 5x. That multiple “absorbs” the total amounts of medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. It’s all “rolled into one” settlement amount.

In your case the settlement amount will be based upon the amount of credible and medically documented medical bills you are able to secure. If your doctors are able to state with a “degree of medical certainty” your brain injury has caused permanent disability which will require an additional amount of substantial medical treatment and resultant medical bills, your settlement will be higher.

In the alternative, if you are able to return to work within a reasonable time it will be clear your injuries are not of a severe enough nature as to merit a large settlement.

The headaches you suffer may be real, but if they can’t be medically documented by your physician, then the insurance company won’t take them very seriously.

You are immediately at a severe disadvantage. You may try and negotiate a large settlement, but without counsel the insurance company will let you believe you are doing some expert negotiating when in reality they have a maximum number in mind. At a certain point they will say, “That’s our final offer. Take it or leave it.”

Once they do you have little if no leverage. You may be able to muster up some forms to file a lawsuit on your own, but if you do you will soon be up against ferocious insurance company defense attorneys who will “paper you to death” with interrogatories, depositions, and multiple court hearings.

Unless you want to accept the amount the insurance company wants to pay, consider retaining a personal injury attorney.

Learn more here: Do You Need an Attorney?

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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