Get fast answers to the most frequently asked questions on slip and fall injury claims.
A slip or trip and fall accident occurs when a person tumbles to the ground after losing their footing or stumbling over an obstacle. The facts of these cases can vary as each slip and fall event is unique. Still, there are common questions in any situation where a person falls and is injured.
We’ve answered the most commonly asked questions about what to do following a slip and fall accident and how to secure fair compensation for your injuries.
Yes. It’s important that you see a medical professional following your slip and fall. Go to your primary care provider, the hospital emergency room, or a walk-in urgent care clinic as soon as possible. A delay in medical treatment can seriously hurt your injury claim.
Get prompt medical attention even if you feel like nothing is wrong. Sometimes accident victims sustain a slip and fall injury that doesn’t have immediate symptoms.
When you see your medical provider, explain your accident in detail. This explanation creates a record of how your injuries are related to the slip and fall accident.
Upon receiving treatment, you’ll soon get medical bills from every treatment provider. Keep these bills as they’re some of the most important evidence in your slip and fall case.
Yes. Notify the property or business owner immediately after your accident. If physical injuries prevent this from happening, inform the owner as soon as practically possible.
At the scene of your slip and fall, tell the manager you want them to file a slip and fall incident report. Most businesses have their own incident report where you’ll fill in some blanks, check some boxes, and provide a summary of what took place.
Within the first few days of your accident, you’ll also want to send a notification letter to inform the property owner of your intent to seek compensation for your injuries.
Yes. Start collecting evidence immediately after your slip and fall accident. The collection of evidence will continue throughout the life of your injury claim.
If you’re injuries allow, begin by taking pictures and videos of the area where you fell and your injuries. Get close-up pictures of the hazard that caused you to slip or trip.
Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to your fall. Also get the names of any employees who were at the scenel, or who came to help you afterward.
Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean the store or location where you fell doesn’t have a surveillance video system. Later, you’ll send a spoliation letter that formally asks the store to preserve video footage and any other evidence relevant to your claim.
Save the clothes you were wearing when you fell. Your clothes may serve as evidence to help prove the severity of your injuries. Place them in a bag without washing them.
If your injuries prevented you from collecting evidence right after your accident, try to return to the scene as soon as possible or send a friend to take pictures.
No. Never sign any agreements or waivers that the property owner or one of its employees may give you after an accident. You might be signing away your right to file a personal injury claim and take later legal action.
You generally show that a property owner was liable for your accident by providing evidence that they knew, or should have known, of a hazardous condition on the property and failed to fix it.
Negligence in a premises liability claim means the property owner or business had a duty of care to keep the property safe for visitors, yet failed to take reasonable steps to fix or remedy a dangerous situation.
Once you have the property owner’s insurance information, send a notification to their insurance company. The insurance company should then open your slip and fall claim.
When you’ve fully recovered and have gathered proof of all your slip and fall damages, you’ll be ready to think about settling your injury claim.
You can calculate your claim value by adding up all your hard costs, then adding one or two times that amount to account for your pain and suffering.
When you’ve determined your claim value, submit a demand letter to the insurance company. The demand letter asks the company for the specific dollar amount that you’d like to settle your claim for.
Once you submit your demand letter, you’ll negotiate with the claims adjuster to arrive at a settlement amount for your slip and fall claim.
If your slip and fall accident is relatively straightforward and you suffered minor injuries, then you can probably settle your claim within a few months.
As a general rule, victims handling their own claims can settle a little faster if they’re prepared and organized for claim negotiations.
However, if your claim is complex and your injuries were severe, you may not reach a settlement until six months or more. Severe or complicated injury claims should always be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney for the best outcome.
When there is little evidence of the property owner’s fault, or there’s a question about the cause of a person’s injuries, sometimes the insurance company will deny a slip and fall claim.
If your claim gets denied, all is not lost. Sometimes the denial is just another issue that you negotiate with the adjuster.
If you just can’t come up with compelling evidence, you still might be able to settle your claim for a nuisance value. In other words, the adjuster will give you a nominal settlement to get rid of you.
You can also try to recover your damages from the at-fault party by filing a lawsuit in a small claims court.
Talk to an attorney. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of your slip and fall, you might have a strong enough case to file a lawsuit in a higher court. Keep in mind that slip and fall lawsuits are more expensive and time-consuming to resolve than injury claims.
The specific dollar amount of your case depends on the details of your claim or lawsuit.
Important details include:
- The severity of your injuries
- The degree to which the owner was responsible for your accident
- The amount of evidence that supports your case
- How much work you had to miss because of your injuries
- Whether you endured pain and suffering because of your fall
Each of these details will impact the overall value of your case. Because the details differ in all slip and fall cases, calculating potential compensation must be done individually.
You can request compensatory damages in a slip and fall case. Compensatory damages are the economic damages (hard costs) and non-economic losses you’ve endured because of your injuries.
Common economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages – both past and future
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage
Claimants can also seek compensation for non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering.
In rare circumstances, an accident victim may seek punitive damages in a slip and fall lawsuit. Punitive damages typically only apply in cases involving big businesses. They’re awarded to help punish the at-fault party and deter others from behaving in similar ways in the future.
Pain and suffering damages are complicated because they don’t come with a pre-assigned value. Nevertheless, there are ways to calculate your pain and suffering compensation.
Most people calculate them by adding together their economic damages and applying a multiple from one to five. Let’s say your economic damages totaled $3,000, and you suffered moderate pain and suffering. Here, you’d multiply by 2-3x and approximate a value of between $6,000 and $9,000.
With good evidence, most injury victims can negotiate pain and suffering compensation valued at one or two times their hard costs. It’s difficult to get higher non-economic compensation when you’re handling your own injury claim.
Unfortunately, people injured in a slip and fall don’t always successfully settle an injury claim or receive a favorable award in court.
Complicated slip and fall cases are more difficult to win, especially without an attorney. Sometimes, for example, a slip and fall victim may have little evidence showing an owner’s liability. These types of cases will be more difficult to prove than others.
Further, property owners and insurance companies may say the injury victim shared in the fault of their accident. If that happens to you, depending on your level of fault, your claim could get denied or your compensation could be reduced by your share of blame.
Shared blame will always be an issue in slip and fall claims involving alcohol.
Having an underlying injury should not prevent you from settling a claim if you’ve re-injured the same body part. Yet, an insurance company may try to deny your claim by saying that you already had a pre-existing injury before your fall.
Consider, for example, a man that has a bad wrist because of a tennis injury. If he injures the same wrist in a fall, the insurer will likely deny the claim and say that any fall “injury” is because of the prior tennis injury.
A pre-existing injury is not a blanket reason to do deny your claim. If this happens, speak with a personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
Not every slip and fall victim will have to contact a skilled slip and fall attorney for help with their case. If the facts are relatively straightforward and you’ve suffered minor injuries, you can likely negotiate and settle a slip and fall injury claim on your own.
If the insurance company blames you, or tries shifting the blame to a maintenance company or other third-party, your claim will become complicated. More than one party may be jointly liable for your damages.
When you’ve suffered severe injuries, or your claim is complicated, protect your interests by hiring an attorney. You can contact a lawyer for help at any time before settling your claim. So if you initially decide to represent yourself, you can always contact a lawyer later.
Most personal injury attorneys provide free consultations and are willing to work on a contingency fee basis. You won’t pay anything unless your lawyer settles your case or wins an award in court.
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