If you were injured from a fall due to a hazardous condition on someone else's property, you may be contemplating a lawsuit against the property owner, and wondering whether that is the right move. One of the factors you will certainly want to consider is how much your slip and fall claim might be worth. The short answer is: It depends. Each case is different. Each venue (where you file a lawsuit) is different. However, there are some common considerations that should help you get a feel for what your claim may be worth. For purposes of this article, the assumption will be that you have a valid slip and fall claim, and you merely want to determine how much it is worth.
Medical Bills -- Present and Future
Your bills for past and future medical treatment related to your fall will be one of the main measuring sticks in calculating your injury damages. Depending on where you live, the amount used to calculate your damages may be the amount the healthcare provider billed, or the amount the healthcare provider agreed to receive as payment in full. Very often, healthcare providers agree to accept less than the billed amount; so it is important to know what the rule in your jurisdiction is.
A valid slip and fall claim is usually at least worth the value of your medical bills. So you can probably safely assume you are entitled to recover at least that amount. In addition, however, you may be entitled to recover what is referred to as “pain and suffering.”
Pain and Suffering in a Slip and Fall Claim
Pain and suffering may be the least predictable component of damages, in terms of what its value might be. There are no hard-and-fast rules for calculating pain and suffering; however, the amount of your medical bills is typically what is used as the starting point.
Depending on the severity and permanency of your injuries, the attorneys and/or insurance adjusters evaluating your claim typically determine an appropriate multiplier to use, along with the amount of your medical bills, to calculate the amount of pain and suffering you are entitled to. For example, if you fell down a flight of stairs, broke several bones, and will walk with a limp the rest of your life, the value of your pain and suffering may be five times the value of your medical bills. However, if you slipped on some floor wax at the grocery store, sprained your wrists, and fully recovered within a month; the value of your pain and suffering may only be .5 times the value of your medical bills.
It is important to remember that some injuries do not show up until well after your slip and fall. For this reason, it is wise to negotiate the amount of your slip and fall claim with future injuries in mind.
If you missed work because of your injuries, you are probably entitled to recover the value of the wages you would have earned. You will have to verify the amount you earn and the time you missed, usually with a tax return or pay stub. Your employer will likely have to verify, in writing, the amount of time you missed due to your injury, and your typical salary or wage rate.
Loss of Earning Capacity
If your injuries are so severe that you are not capable of performing the type of work you performed prior to getting hurt -- and you are not capable of earning as much as you did previously -- you may be able to recover an amount that is meant to compensate you for your "lost earning capacity." An expert (typically a vocational rehabilitation specialist) will likely have to offer testimony to support your claim, after a full evaluation of your injuries, your occupation, and your prospects for future work.
If you successfully establish that your capacity to earn has been diminished due to your injuries, the property owner may compensate you for that loss in a couple of different ways, including:
- paying for you to be trained/educated in a different field; and/or
- paying you a lump sum for the amount of your reduced earning capacity
People often incur additional expenses because of an injury. For example, a person may spend an additional $100 in gas each month to travel to doctors’ appointments. You may be able to recover the amount of such incidental expenses on top of the categories of damages we have already discussed. You will have to prove some rational connection between the expense and the injury, of course.
Learn more about Damages in a Personal Injury Case.