Before filing a personal injury claim for a slip and fall, you’ll want to ensure you have a valid argument for damages. For a claim to be valid, the property owner or another individual/entity must have been negligent in some way and their negligence must have led or contributed to your injuries.
If you’ve suffered injuries due to the irresponsible or unreasonable actions of a property owner or tenant, then you have a valid claim. Likewise, if your injuries resulted from a property owner or tenant failing to act to ensure the safety of their property and visitors, then your slip and fall claim is valid.
How to Determine How Much Your Slip and Fall Claim is Worth
Every slip and fall case is different and the locations in which accidents happen vary greatly as well. For these reasons, it can be difficult to estimate what your slip and fall claim may be worth. You can get an idea of what your claim might be worth by considering the types of losses and injuries you’ve suffered.
To evaluate the potential value of your slip and fall claim, consider:
- The total medical expenses you’ve incurred
- The predicted medical expenses you’ll have in the future related to your injuries
- The dollar value of any lost wages from missed work time
- If your injuries will cause you to change jobs or work in a different field in the future, consider:
- The difference between your former earnings and future earnings potential
- The cost of any training, education, or other expenses related to changing employment tracks
- Other expenses associated with your injuries, like the cost of hiring a housekeeper or money given to a friend for driving you around and running errands for you during your recovery
If your injuries are severe, you may have a valid argument for compensation for pain and suffering as well, though these types of damages may be more difficult to estimate or assign a dollar figure to. A personal injury lawyer familiar with arguing claims like yours may be able to give you an idea of the settlement or damages you could potentially receive.
Tips for Settling Slip and Fall Claims
A significant number of slip and fall claims are settled out of court through negotiations with insurance companies. A settlement takes a shorter timeframe and costs less than a lawsuit. Trials are also less predictable and therefore a riskier. These are just a few of the reasons to consider settling rather than suing.
Here are a few tips to help you successfully resolve your dispute out of court:
- Link Your Injuries with the Slip and Fall – proving you have medical expenses is fairly simple. Establishing a clear, even if casual link, between your injuries and the accident can be more challenging. Enlist the help of your physician. Inform him or her of your injury claim and ask the doctor to provide a formal, written statement explaining how your injuries are related to your accident.
- Prove the Property Owner/Tenant Knew the Property was Dangerous – you may be able to show conditions at the site of your accident were dangerous through photographs and statements from witnesses. Proving the property owner, manager, or tenant was aware of the dangerous conditions but did nothing to counter them is more difficult but very beneficial in successfully settling your claim. Here are a few ways to accomplish your goal:
- Security Footage – A lawyer can obtain video surveillance footage showing how long the dangerous conditions were present. Even though some cameras only record for a certain timeframe before recording over the footage, even a one-week to one-month timeframe is sufficient for an owner to have noticed dangerous conditions and acted to correct them.
- Formal Statements – An attorney may be able to get sworn statements from others that know how long the dangerous conditions existed. These statements may be from employees, vendors, customers, or other visitors.
- Accident Reports – A lawyer can help you obtain copies of accident reports from incidents that occurred in the same location or in other related areas of the property. For example, if there are slip and fall claims from other areas of a store where the flooring is the same type, then the property owner or store owner was obviously aware the flooring can be dangerous.
- Build Your Body of Evidence – In addition to documenting physical evidence in your claim through photos of the accident scene and your physical injuries, you should also build a robust body of evidence. Here are the types of evidence you may include in your claim:
- Medical records and bills
- Other injury-related expenses
- Statements from witnesses and other knowledgeable parities
- A statement from your employer’s human resources department about lost work time, family medical leave, adjusted work schedules or assignments, and lost wages
Keep a running account of the ways in which your injuries have affected your everyday life and added to expenses or caused you to lose time with friend, family, at work, or enjoying hobbies and interests. Don’t exaggerate your injuries and their affects, but do record accurate details related to the case.
Get Help with Your Claim
Slip and fall claims often require knowledgeable legal counsel. An attorney may be necessary to obtain evidence from the property owner and to take formal statements from witness. A lawyer can also help negotiate your claim with the insurance company.
When considering attorneys, keep in mind that slip and fall claims present unique challenges. Research lawyers in the area and look at their areas of expertise. Choose an attorney knowledgeable in slip and fall claims that happen on the same type of premises where you accident occurred. An attorney that is familiar with handling claims like yours in your local area is likely best suited to advise you in your case.