Slip and fall injuries are very common legal issues, and often very complex. Premises law is a complicated legal area when the basics of a personal injury case are being established.
Just as in an auto accident, there are often competing versions of events, especially when the defendant is a business and employees or management observed the accident, and many slip and fall injuries eventually center around material case facts regarding the personal assumption of risk on the part of the claimant. But, there are also many other determining factors that may be present, including several types of basic accident scenarios that an experienced slip and fall attorney has handled in prior cases.
It is important to remember that it is never a good decision to attempt handling a slip and fall injury personally because insurance adjusters are professional negotiators, and a client will need one also if he or she is to make any headway toward a fair and reasonable settlement. The client wants the maximum settlement, rather than the insurance company’s number.
Establishing your claim
The initial step in establishing a slip and fall injury is documenting that an injury occurred, which can be done by introducing injury reports and medical treatment bills. In serious cases, the police or a rescue squad will often also provide an official report.
Next, the attorney must prove that the negligent respondent owed a duty of care and that the defendant failed to provide that care within reasonable standards. The determination of what is reasonable is made by the court, and many times settling a slip and fall injury case will involve considerable discussion regarding reasonable care and the actions of the claimant.
Understanding comparative negligence
Contributory and comparative negligence doctrines are used in every state, but states have differing applications. Some states operate by pure comparative negligence application, which means that all parties in an accident are assessed for causation, which results in a percentage rating. Injured plaintiffs are then discounted in how much damage recovery they are allowed to receive based on their rating. This is a crucial component in being paid to a maximum of allowable damages, and it is also where the insurance companies fight the strongest. The higher a rating for the injured party, the lower the total settlement value will be.
Slip and fall injuries are usually just compensatory in nature, but egregious cases of negligence on the part of the respondent can result in a punitive award if your attorney wants to take the case to trial.
Punitive damage awards are exemplary damages that are meant to punish the defendant for unacceptable behavior, and only a jury can award exemplary damages.
Most damages will be recovered by submitting medical bills and expenses for commuting to medical treatment. Lost wages are also a form of economic damages, and future earnings can be calculated into a settlement when the ability to work has been diminished.
Emotional distress damages are also recoverable, but they are classed as non-economic compensatory damages. They can sometimes be used as leverage in a pretrial settlement for serious injuries.