Injuries from a slip and fall can happen anywhere and anytime. More than a million Americans each year require emergency medical treatment following a slip and fall incident. Fair to say not one of them left the house that day planning on a painful and debilitating encounter with the ground. The resulting injuries can range from mild to severe, and even sometimes fatal.
Slip and Falls are a Leading Cause of Injury for All Age Groups
Slip and falls for older adults is a real problem with one third of all adults over 65 years of age suffering a fall each year. However, slip and falls are also the most common cause for non-fatal injuries to occur in every age group except for people who are aged 10-24, where it is second. Number one cause for both hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries? You guessed it, slip and fall accidents.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the average medical costs for a slip and fall injury is over $30,000. Slip and fall injuries generate over $34 billion a year in just medical expenses. This does not consider lost wages, time taken off work, or the pain and suffering of the victim. This can be a devastating blow to the families of slip and fall victims. It is vital to consider your legal options regarding recouping your financial losses. Often there is negligence on the part of the property owner that caused you to slip and fall. In instances you are entitled to compensation. There are some important steps you can take after a slip and fall accident to protect your potential claim.
Take Care of Yourself First
Right after a slip and fall your priority should be on your health. Decide if you need emergency medical services or if you can make your way directly to urgent care on your own. Injuries from a slip and fall may not seem serious at first but can suddenly worsen. Prompt medical treatment is the safest plan after a slip and fall accident. Insurance companies may suggest your injuries were not that serious if you delay seeking medical attention.
Inform the Right People
Report the incident to the business or property owner as soon as circumstances allow. Neglecting to report a slip and fall in a timely fashion is not an absolute bar to filing a claim. However, insurance companies and even juries can interpret a delay in reporting the accident negatively. Should the accident occur on commercial property, ask to speak with the senior management person available. You would need to report the accident to the proper governmental agency if the fall occurred on public property.
Falling in public can be embarrassing. It is tempting to dust yourself off and make a swift exit. However, leaving too quickly can be a mistake if you lose out on preserving important evidence. Spend a moment to get some pictures of where you fell if possible. Gather evidence of anything you feel may have contributed to your fall. Consider things like lighting, obstacles, spills, or debris in the walkway. Do not be shy about asking potential witnesses for a brief statement and contact information. Most people will sympathize with your plight and be willing to help.
Friends and Family
In the case of a slip and fall at the property of a friend or family member take the same steps outlined above. Reassure them you will not be seeking damages directly from them but from their insurance company.
What Not to Do
An important thing to remember is this is not the time or place to discuss who is at fault regarding your slip and fall accident. Do not make any statements to the property owner or insurance company about your role in contributing to the fall until you have consulted with an attorney. If you feel they are at fault, then try and document anything that you feel could aid your attorney in making that determination. Stay calm and avoid getting into a verbal altercation about the incident.
How Much to Expect from a Slip and Fall Settlement
Average case settlement amounts can be misleading. Every case has a unique set of facts that when taken together will shape the amount of the award. The process to calculate what exactly is fair and just compensation for your losses involves multiple steps. Only by working closely with your attorney and doctors can a satisfactory monetary amount be arrived at. Here are some of the initial factors commonly used to help determine the award amount:
- Medical bills both past and future
- Lost wages or missed work
- Compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Impact on quality of life
Impact of Comparative Negligence
The State of Utah is a comparative negligence state. Pursuant to this doctrine each party is assigned a percentage of the blame for their contribution to the accident. Parties will assign the percentage of fault via agreement during the settlement process, or by findings made at trial. The court or settlement agreement will reduce final award by the percentage of fault assigned to you. A common tactic in defense of slip and fall cases is to argue the victim bears some of the responsibility for the accident. If successful, this tact can significantly reduce the amount of your settlement or award. Anticipating this approach and being ready to counter it is an important part of the settlement process or trial preparation for your attorney.
Filing a claim for a slip and fall injury can be quite an involved process. Insurance companies can be dismissive of your injury claims or offer you a low settlement, leaving you on the hook for your medical bills. Having an experienced attorney fighting for your rights is the only way to make sure they are paying their full share.
The Advocates have been Utah’s premier personal injury firm for almost 30 years. We have recovered over $300 million on behalf of our clients. The expert attorneys at The Advocates take the guesswork out of filing a claim and fight to make sure you get everything you are due. Take advantage of our free case evaluation by calling us today at 1-801-797-2446, or you can fill out the form below, or chat with us here. Don’t you deserve an Advocate?