Victims of a trip-and-fall incident can incur considerable damages. These damages may include:
- Loss of work income
- Loss of the ability to work in the future
- Medical and physical therapy bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium
What Is Required to Collect Damages?
Trip-and-fall lawsuits can originate from an untimely trip over dangerously bumpy terrain and the fall resulting from it. Damages from a trip and fall need to involve a legally “cognizable,” (recognizable) substantial injury.
Inconvenience, temporary pain, and temporary injuries that heal themselves without medical intervention may not be sufficient to count towards damages.
Special, General, and Punitive Damages
There are two main categories of damages in trip-and-fall cases: special and general.
Special damages are also called “compensatory,” “actual,” or “economic” damages. These are damages that cover calculable economic loss, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and the replacement of damaged property. Compensatory damages put the injured party in the position they would have been in but for the accident.
General damages reflect the plaintiff’s non-calculable losses, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, compensation for a shortened life expectancy, loss of the companionship of a family member or loved one, loss of reputation, and more. In this area, the jury has the leverage to award what it feels the plaintiff deserves.
Punitive or “exemplary” damages are not often awarded in trip-and-fall cases. Punitive damages punish the defendant’s willful or malicious misconduct.
Slip and Fall Accidents at Work
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at work, you may have concerns about filing a claim against your employer. You may qualify for financial compensation from your employer for a slip and fall accident that leaves you injured or unable to work.
What Percentage of Slip and Fall Case Go to Trial?
Around 5% of slip and fall cases go to trial. Use LegalMatch to find a personal injury lawyer who can help you build a case that meets your state’s guidelines and time restrictions. If your case is strong enough, the insurance company might offer to pay an out-of-court financial settlement.
Accepting a financial settlement means:
- You avoid going to court and waiting for a judge or jury to value your claim
- You forfeit the right to file another claim for your slip and fall injuries
- You receive money to compensate for your injuries, expenses, and losses
If you receive an injury settlement, make sure to discuss it with your lawyer. The first settlement offer you receive may not be the best one.
What is the Average Payout for a Slip and Fall Case?
Many slip and fall injuries settle in the $30-$40,000 range, but there are no guarantees. The value of your case depends on your economic and non-economic damages. The more serious your injuries are, the higher your settlement will be. Some cases that result in permanent disability have settled for millions of dollars.
Do not accept a settlement offer without consulting with a lawyer who can accurately value your case. Settlement offers should result in compensation that covers your future medical expenses. Once you accept a settlement, you usually forfeit any rights to take further legal action against the responsible party.
How Can I Win a Slip and Fall Case?
You can win your slip and fall claim if your attorneys prove the three elements that are necessary for a successful personal injury case. Those elements are:
- Breach of duty: You must prove that the at-fault party had a duty to keep you safe. For example, an at-fault party might have the duty to mop up a water hazard because it was their job.
- Liability: Your slip and fall lawyers must prove that the defendant’s negligence makes them liable for your injuries and damages.
- Damages: You must prove that your injury resulted in financial losses like medical bills and time missed from work.
You may win your slip and fall claim if your attorneys successfully prove these three elements.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Slip and Fall Case?
It could take anywhere from 3-18 months for most slip and fall lawsuits to reach a settlement. The length of time your case goes on for depends on the extent of your injuries, how long it will take you to recover, and to what extent you can recover. You don’t want to settle your claim until you’re sure how much your medical bills will be.
How Can I Bring a Trip and Fall Lawsuit?
If a person is injured because of a trip and fall incident, they may be able to sue the property owner by showing some type of legal relationship with the person who is legally in charge of the property.
Additionally, they may be required to prove that the person in charge had a legal duty to protect or warn against dangers. Other parties, such as municipalities, may be held liable for the trip and fall incident.
Who Is Responsible for Trip and Fall Injuries?
Who can be held responsible for trip and fall injuries depends on where the accident occurred. Municipalities are generally responsible for maintaining sidewalks and streets in a reasonably safe condition.
A pedestrian may trip over a rebar or a metal stake that is protruding dangerously out of the sidewalk. If the rest of the sidewalk is in reasonable condition, the pedestrian will likely believe that there is no protruding rebar to be aware of. As the pedestrian may be reasonable in this belief, and does not need to constantly scan the ground for dangers, the municipality may be held liable for resulting trip and fall injuries.
Another example would be how a person who is descending into an underground garage may suddenly trip on an unexpected hazard where:
- Lighting is too dim;
- The descent is too steep to be considered safe;
- An intermediate landing is lacking or missing; and
- Handrails are lacking or missing.
Because there are certain safety standards that must be met, the garage’s builder or owner may be held liable for resulting trip and fall injuries.
An example of when store owners may be held liable would be when a rollerblader trips while riding a ramp that is in violation of building codes or if an employee trips on stairs that are in violation of building codes.
Trip and fall claims are a specific type of personal injury lawsuit, and as such are based on the concept of negligence. This legal theory asserts that the person or organization responsible for the injury was careless, and failed to take the proper actions which would have prevented the injury. The theory of negligence will be further discussed later on.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Trip and Fall Case?
Slip and fall accidents catch many people completely off guard. Such accidents can cause injuries that tend to have serious consequences. Your accident might lead to injuries, expenses, and an inability to work.
Do not let the injuries you suffered in a slip and fall continue to harm you. If you think you have a claim for a trip and fall, you contact a slip and fall attorney to discuss your options.