If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may find yourself wondering whether or not you should sue, who you should sue, and how much would you likely be able to get if the suit was successful. These are perfectly legitimate questions that must be answered before you make a final decision on whether or not to pursue legal action against the person who’s negligence caused your pain.
However, there really is no “average” settlement amount for slip and falls because so many factors go into making this determination. For example, a slip and fall resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) would receive far more compensation than a sprained wrist. Just like snowflakes, no two cases are alike and the differences can have a dramatic impact on the settlement amount that is achieved at the end of negotiations.
Which Factors Are Important in Determining a Fair Settlement Amount?
For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you have a valid slip and fall injury claim. In its simplest form, this means that you did slip and fall on someone else’s property, that someone was negligent (and it can be proven), and the negligence caused your fall and subsequently your injuries.
Consulting a professional will help you make the determinations listed above. Then, after these initial considerations, they will move on to the questions that can help them get a handle on what your case is worth.
The first and most obvious costs that need to be looked at when attempting to quantify an accurate settlement amount are medical costs. The good news is that these are relatively easy to quantify because all that must be done is to gather all medical receipts, invoices, bills, and the like, and add everything up. However, keep in mind that you will be gathering documentation of what you have paid out of pocket, and what your insurance company has paid.
Insurance company payments must be closely assessed because quite often, as part of an agreement with an insurance company, doctors will accept lower payments than usual for services. The actual pay-out numbers are what should be used to determine overall medical costs.
Future Medical Costs
This is similar to regular medical costs with one major exception: there are no invoices or receipts for treatment that has not yet occurred. In some cases, future costs are not too difficult to determine.
For instance, if Stan fractured bones in his arm and his doctor says that it will take him 2 years of physical therapy to fully recover, then this is not too difficult to calculate. The physical therapy is likely a set rate per week or month, and the doctor will state how many visits therapy should take – so all that is left is a bit of multiplication to determine how much the therapy will cost in its entirety.
However, not all crystal balls are clear. Sometimes there is medical uncertainty as to how long any treatments are going to be needed. Therapy can be prescribed for “as long as needed” or until the patient reaches a certain amount of regained mobility, etc. – without any definite ending date. Obviously, this makes the assessment of future medical expenses more complex. But your attorney is skilled in making such assessments, and he will certainly lead the charge for figuring out a good and reasonable settlement amount that includes a healthy amount for future expenses that can be foreseen.
This one is also quite straightforward. Many times a slip and fall leads to time missed from work. Doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, and simple recovery require time away from work – which, in turn, means money out of your pocket. And the effects of these lost wages are often felt more strongly because the medical bills can start piling up at precisely the same time as your paychecks stop coming in.
Fortunately, these amounts are very easy calculated using your pay history for the past year or so.
Loss of Future Earning Capacity
This comes into play when your injury is such that you can no longer perform the duties or requirements of your current job, or if your injury is resulting in a handicap that will only get worse with time – eventually affecting your ability to continue working (or at least working the same job.)
So if it is foreseeable that you will likely have to retrain for a different profession, then the lost future earning capacity can be considered in your settlement amount.
Pain and Suffering
Determining pain and suffering is an interesting task – because really, who can put a number on pain and suffering? But for legal purposes, this is exactly what we must do. So lawyers and judges use something called a “multiplier.”
So let’s say that your fall happened at a restaurant. As you walk towards the door, you slip on water that was puddled on the floor and, in the process of falling, you slam your head on one of the tables. After medical tests, it is determined that you have suffered a traumatic brain injury that will affect you for the rest of your life and make even simple tasks much harder for you.
In a situation like this, the multiplier used will be high. How high depends on more specifics and the jurisdiction you are in, among other variables. But let’s say that the parties agree that the multiplier in this case should be 10. This means that your medical expenses will be multiplied by 10, and that will be the amount of pain and suffering for your case.
Conversely, if the slip and fall only resulted in a sprained wrist from which you will fully recover, your multiplier may only be .5 or even less.
Contact an Experienced Attorney to Discuss Your Options
Accurately determining how much your case is worth is critical if you wish to be properly compensated so that you can put the pieces of your life back together as much as possible. So don’t hesitate. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld P.A . , to speak with an experienced attorney who can help get you the money you need to heal. Call our office , or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation today.