Here are examples of slip and fall settlement amounts from real cases so you know what to expect from your own claim.
No two injury claims are alike. For some people, a slip and fall injury leaves a few bruises and only causes them to miss a few hours of work. For others, it can be so catastrophic that the injury victim and their family never completely recover.
Regardless of how much your life has been affected by your slip and fall injury, you have the right to compensation. But how much compensation can you receive?
Though a few cases are taken to trial by experienced slip and fall lawyers, the vast majority of personal injury cases settle out of court.
This article will focus on potential settlement amounts for different kinds of slip and fall injuries. Because court verdicts can influence the amounts of settlement, we’ll also look at a few notable examples of verdicts.
We’ll also look at how geographical location might influence your claim’s value regardless of the type of injury you have suffered.
Range of Slip and Fall Settlement Amounts
One of the most important factors in evaluating a slip and fall injury is exactly where the injury is located on your body.
A broken arm can be painful and debilitating. But there is no question that a head injury is usually more serious and life-threatening. It also has a much higher potential to affect your life and the lives of your family members.
Here are some examples of different slip and fall injuries, along with typical verdicts and values. In each case, the settlement amount is primarily driven by medical expenses. Those are then added to non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering), wage losses, loss of earning capacity, and any other items important to the injured person.
A common way to calculate pain and suffering compensation is to add together the victim’s hard costs (measurable losses like medical bills and lost wages) then multiply that amount by a number ranging from 1.5 to 5 or more, depending on the severity of the person’s injuries and other extenuating circumstances.
1. Arm, Wrist, and Hand Injuries
Slip or trip and fall accidents often result in injuries to your arms, wrists and hands. This can happen when you throw your hands out to try and catch yourself as you fall. Whatever the mechanics of the injury, it’s painful. That said, because these injuries often require less treatment, their settlement values are usually lower.
- A broken arm, for example, can cost $2,500 for non-surgical treatment, or as much as $16,000 if you need surgery.
- Wrist injuries can be even more expensive to treat, with surgeries costing between $7,000 and $18,000 on top of non-surgical costs. Post-surgery therapy can further run up the bills.
In one case, a police officer slipped and fell on municipal property. He suffered wrist injuries that required surgery, and his case went to trial. He received a jury verdict (which included non-economic and other damages) of $500,000. And a woman who slipped and fell in a Georgia supermarket received a verdict of over $2.5 million for her wrist injury.
These numbers are big, but it’s important to realize that they (1) are verdicts, not settlements, and (2) are higher than average. Let’s detail a more typical settlement scenario below.
Example: Wrist Injury Settlement
Sharon slips and falls on an icy entranceway to a convenience store, breaking her wrist. She is factory worker who makes $15 per hour. Sharon is out of work for six weeks while her wrist heals, and accrues $5,000 in medical bills from the emergency room, X-rays, and the orthopedic doctor who cast her wrist. She did not need surgery.
Medical bills: $5,000
Lost wages ($563/week x 6 weeks): $3,378
Pain and suffering (1.5x Sharon’s economic damages): $12,567
Estimated Settlement Value: $20,945
In Sharon’s case, a settlement of $15,000-$20,000 would be fair and reasonable.
It’s important to realize that a settlement will always be for less than you think the case is worth. (Otherwise, there’s no reason for the other side to settle with you.) Settlement negotiations require some give-and-take from both sides.
2. Back Injuries
If you land on your back after a slip and fall, you can suffer a wide variety of complications. A fracture on the bones in your spinal column can be both painful and expensive to treat. The fall could also result in a slipped disc or even a spinal cord injury.
In one slip and fall case in Marion County, Florida, a woman slipped and fell on a wet floor in a supermarket. The woman had to have back surgery to address a slipped disc. The supermarket refused to settle the case, and there was a verdict of over $200,000.
Had this case settled, $200,000 would not have been an unreasonable number. The woman’s medical bills were roughly $70,000. Pain and suffering is valued differently in every case, but another $70,000 would not be out of the question in this case, given the surgery. Add in any lost wages or earning capacity, and $200,000 sounds about right.
Without surgery, this case would have been worth significantly less. Perhaps the value would have been cut in half to $100,000. On the other hand, a spinal cord injury (with full or partial paralysis) could have upped the value significantly. Depending on other factors, this case could then be worth $500,000 to $1 million or more.
In contrast, another slip and fall in a grocery store resulted in a broken femur for an 85-year-old man in Oregon. In that case, the verdict was $1.6 million. Here, the failure of the grocery store to settle before trial had a much larger effect than in the Florida case, as the settlement would likely have been far less than $1.6 million.
Example: Broken Back Injury Settlement
Bob slips on a puddle of leaking oil, falling backward onto the cement floor of an auto parts store. Bob is rushed to the hospital with a broken back, where he has surgery to stabilize two fractured vertebrae. Bob works for a local home builder, making $18 per hour as a carpenter. He’s out of work for six months.
Bob accrues $40,000 in medical bills for his emergency room care, surgery, follow-up care, and physical therapy.
Medical bills: $40,000
Lost wages ($720/week x 24 weeks): $17,280
Pain and suffering (estimated as 3 x economic damages): $171,840
Estimated Settlement Value: $229,120
With the help of his attorney, a reasonable settlement of Bob’s injury claim can range from $150,000 to $225,000.
3. Head Injuries
Head trauma can lead to devastating injuries. Even if it doesn’t kill, traumatic brain injury (TBI) can permanently disable and require a lifetime of medical care. According to Northwestern University, lifetime costs for TBI can range from $85,000 to $3 million.
In the event that you have suffered TBI from a slip and fall, you need first and foremost to focus on getting medical treatment costs (past and future) paid. As you can see, the base amount of your settlement is going to be much higher in this case. Adding pain and suffering and wage loss or loss of earning capacity will further increase settlement value.
Example: Traumatic Brain Injury Settlement
Randall was a thirty-year old husband and father who tripped over an extension cord that was stretched across the aisle at a big-box store. He fell hard, hitting his head on the edge of a display shelf before violently slamming to the concrete floor.
Randall suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to work or care for himself.
The attorney hired to represent Randall and his family hired experts to help evaluate the case. Medical experts determined that Randall’s lifetime medical bills would reach $1 million. Financial accounting experts determined that Randall, who was earning $50,000 per year as a radiology technician at the time of his injury, would have earned at least $1.5 million over the course of his working lifetime.
Medical bills: $1,000,000
Lost wages (current and future): $1,500,000
Pain and suffering (estimated as 5 x economic damages): $2,816,250
Estimated Settlement Value: $12,500,000
Based on this much larger calculation, a good settlement could be between $10 million and $12 million.
Insurance companies won’t pay out millions of dollars without a fight. Extremely high-dollar cases often end up in court, even if they eventually settle before trial.
4. Hip Injuries
Hip injuries, which are almost always caused by falls, can be immobilizing and painful. One estimate maintains that the lifetime cost of a hip fracture, which includes nursing facility expenses, is $81,300.
Hip fracture victims are often elderly persons with pre-existing medical conditions that puts them at higher risk for serious injuries. However, the at-fault party is just as responsible for an elderly person’s slip and fall injuries as they would be for anyone else.
Most states follow an “eggshell doctrine” that prevents the at-fault party (or their insurance company) from denying or reducing compensation for a fragile person’s slip and fall injuries.
Example: Fractured Hip Injury Settlement
Dora was an active 72-year old woman who lived with her husband Ernest in a Florida retirement community. One day while at the grocery store, Dora slipped and fell, fracturing her left hip.
Dora had emergency hip replacement surgery, followed by a post-surgery stroke that left her helpless and confused. Despite weeks of physical and occupational therapy, Dora never regained her independence. Dora had to be moved to a skilled nursing home for round-the-clock care.
Current and Future Medical bills: $81,300
Pain and suffering (estimated as 4 x economic damages): $325,200
Total reasonable estimated verdict: $406,500
Here, a good settlement might be between $300,000 and $400,000.
The attorney representing Dora’s interests might include a Loss of Consortium claim for her husband, to help compensate Ernest for the loss of his wife’s company and companionship.
How “Venue” Can Affect Your Settlement Amount
As you and your personal injury lawyer evaluate your slip and fall claim, consider that past lawsuit verdicts, the cost of treatment, and your related damages are not the only considerations affecting the value of the case and your settlement.
There’s one more hidden factor: venue.
Venue is a legal term for the court system that would have jurisdiction over your case if you decided to file a lawsuit. Where your case is pending often has an effect on when premises liability defendants settle cases, and for how much.
California juries, for example, are known for giving higher verdicts in personal injury cases. Alabama and Maryland, on the other hand, are worse for slip and fall plaintiffs because of their contributory negligence laws. In those states, it’ll be more difficult to get a fair settlement. Insurance companies will know there’s less of a risk of a big verdict against them.
A qualified lawyer can tell you if the laws or other legal circumstances of your state present difficulties for settling your claim.
Also keep in mind that in most cases, you want to try to keep your personal injury case out of federal court. In general, federal court cases are more expensive and a less friendly forum for personal injury claimants. Therefore, property owners and their insurance companies like to get cases moved to federal court so that they can offer less to settle your claims.
After you’ve been injured, it’s tempting to want to put both the injury and the claim process behind you as quickly as possible. Insurance companies encourage this. They will stonewall and offer lower amounts to settle your case than they should normally have to pay. That’s why it’s important to take your time and get a slip and fall attorney who can help you negotiate.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, it is important to act as soon as possible to preserve your claim. Once you have done that, use caution and take your time when negotiating a personal injury settlement.
Qualified personal injury attorneys can help you with the process. Contact a lawyer or law firm in your state today for a free consultation.
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