If you have a viable slip and fall case, you may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other losses stemming from your injury. However, the exact values of slip and fall settlements are based on the unique facts of each case, such as how the accident occurred and how it has affected the injured party.
Once a personal injury case has been settled, it cannot be reopened even if it turns out the damages are greater than originally understood. It is a good idea to speak with a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer at Salamati Law to make sure that your settlement compensates you for all of your fall-related damages.
How long do slip and fall settlements take?
The timeline of a slip and fall settlement in California varies from case to case. A settlement can happen quickly, within weeks of the accident, or the process can take several years.
It may be tempting to accept an early offer from an insurance adjuster, but these come with strings – when you sign a settlement, you agree to release any other related claims against the other party. Even if you discover after you settle that your sprain is actually a fracture that is likely to involve permanent disability, you cannot re-open the claim.
If your injury seems minor and the settlement appears fair, be sure to discuss the terms of the proposed settlement with a lawyer.
How are slip and fall settlements calculated?
There is no average slip and fall settlement since the calculation depends on factors unique to each case. One fall may result in a mild sprain, while another may cause a serious head injury. In each case, the settlement will ideally reflect the impact of those injuries.
In general, compensation for a slip and fall accident can include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include losses like medical bills, which are clearly determined because they are associated with specific costs. Non-economic damages are not easily measured because they represent losses like pain and suffering, for which there are no specific costs; the dollar amounts must therefore be estimated. In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish a defendant.
What if my slip and fall case goes to trial?
Many slip and fall cases are settled long before they go to trial. However, in a small number, liability insurers will dig in their heels and refuse to offer a reasonable amount. At that point, your attorney will explain your options—settling the case for a lower amount or going to trial to potentially recover greater compensation. Ultimately, it is your decision.
Taking your case to trial does not guarantee that you will recover a larger damages award. However, it will allow your lawyer to present the facts about your accident to a jury. In addition, they will try to select jury members who are likely to be sympathetic to your circumstances and appreciate the hardships you face as you recover from serious slip and fall injuries.
Further, in a written complaint, your lawyer will describe how the other party’s negligence caused your accident and your injuries. It will also include the dollar amount of damages that you have incurred. At the trial, they will present evidence, which can include:
- Testimony from you, your family, and witnesses to the accident
- Your medical bills and other expenses resulting from the accident
- Information about the property and the hazardous conditions that led to your slip and fall mishap
- Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists and other experts regarding those hazardous conditions, your injuries, and other matters.
The negligent party’s lawyers will present evidence to support their defense. Their evidence might include, for example:
- Your contribution to the accident via your own purported negligence
- The property owner’s absence of knowledge of the hazardous condition
- Claims that you were not authorized to be on the property where you were injured
- If the accident happened on public or government-owned property, claims that support a sovereign immunity defense.
After both parties have had an opportunity to present their evidence and rebuttals to the other party’s evidence, the trial court judge will give the jury instructions on how to proceed. Next, the jury will determine whether the negligent party is liable for causing the slip and fall accident and, if so, what damages they owe you.
Examples of slip and fall damages
Economic damages can include losses that have already occurred, as well as those that are reasonably anticipated. Examples include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Medications, medical supplies, and other out-of-pocket costs
- Cost to replace services that cannot be performed due to injury
Non-economic damages include recognized losses that are not represented by a specific dollar amount. Popular techniques to calculate non-economic damages include multiplying the economic losses by a number that reflects the severity of the injury or relying on an insurance industry computer program. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment
- Lost earning capacity
Punitive damages are uncommon, but they may be awarded if:
- The defendant showed a conscious disregard of the hazard
- The case proceeds to trial (punitive damages generally cannot be awarded through a voluntary settlement)
Since insurance companies will not pay punitive damages, it is harder to collect them. Further, defendants often file appeals to drag out the collection of them. Your Los Angeles slip and fall attorney is the best person to determine whether it is appropriate to pursue punitive damages in your case and determine a strategy to collect them if it is.
Maximize compensation by proving damages
As a claimant, you have the burden of proving your damages. If the injury is minor, this may simply mean producing the bills from your doctor’s visit and offering a statement about your pain and suffering. In serious cases, there can be much more legwork involved.
Proving economic damages requires showing that the monetary losses are reasonably tied to the injury. This can require:
- Bills and invoices
- Medical records stating prognosis and expected future treatment
- Receipts for medication, medical equipment, and necessary services
- Employment records to determine lost wages
- Testimony from medical experts about the cause of the injury, the reasonableness of medical costs, and the expected cost of future treatment
- Testimony from economic or occupational experts to prove future lost wages or lost work opportunities
Proving non-economic damages can be done with:
- Personal testimony
- Testimony of friends and relatives
- Journals that document the pain or impact of the injury on your everyday life
- Expert testimony on your prognosis
The Salamati Law Firm puts the needs of clients first. We determine what evidence is needed to build the strongest case possible so that all of your damages are fully compensated.
Speak with a lawyer about slip and fall compensation in California
A slip and fall injury can set you back physically and financially, but we aggressively fight for your rights. Call Salamati Law today to schedule a free consultation with a slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles to find out how we can help you.