How much is your slip and fall lawsuit worth? This is a question I hear often, but it isn’t a one size fits all answer. The fact is every case is different and every person is different, so there is not a universal answer. Fear not, though, because every case does have a number, and it is predicated on some very serious issues.
To determine what your skip and fall case is worth, the amount you will get at the end of the case, lets determine what factors we have to look at to decide what the outcome will be.
What is a Slip and Fall?
A Slip and Fall accident actually refer to several different types of accidents. One can literally slip and fall. If someone spills some liquid at the supermarket or big box store, for example, and that liquid causes your accident, it’s a classic slip and fall.
You can also trip and fall. If you were walking through a Las Vegas casino and the carpet on the floor has been inadequately tacked down, or if there were some obstruction in your way that caused you to trip, this would be a trip and fall.
There is another type of accident known as a Step and Fall. In Las Vegas, where you often have to walk vast distances to get from one hotel to another, we often see step and fall accidents here. Parking lots that have potholes where you can take a misstep or a broken piece of tile which just catches you the wrong way are step and fall injuries.
All of these accidents fall under slip and fall law.
What is Premises Liability Law?
Slip and fall accidents are a category of premises liability law. Commercial property owners, under Nevada law, have a duty of care to their customers and to the public. They are responsible for ensuring their businesses are safe. There should be no areas where the general public could be harmed through no fault of their own.
Property owners must maintain their premises in a standard that is safe for everone. In a retail store, for example, there should be no fallen objects on the floor or spilled liquid. In a hotel or casino, there should be no lumps or bumps in carpet that anyone could trip over. In a rental property, spaces should be taken care of and well-maintained. There should be no low spots or offset cracks where someone could trip on the sidewalk. There should also be no holes or defective places in stairs where anyone could trip and slip and fall.
Here in Las Vegas, we have some of the largest hotels and casinos in the world. Generally speaking, they maintain their properties very well. But problems do come up from time to time, and even they miss things. When this happens, they are in breach of the law because they didn’t take the best care in the public – your – safety. In plain English, this means that if the property owner was aware of this issue (that it was addressed with them previously and they did nothing), and it can be proven that they did not act in a quick and swift manner, they can be found negligent for their inaction. When this happens, you can sue them for a slip and fall under the law.
But what if the property owner believes the premises are safe and sound? After all, it isn’t unusual for hotel owners, for example, to argue that their parking lots are completely safe, despite a large and uneven crack in it that makes tripping on it an inevitable outcome.
In these situation, a court would look at the reasonable person standards. The property can be deemed not safe if a reasonable person would think it is not safe. Most reasonable people could agree that a cracked and uneven surface of a parking lot can cause you to trip if you aren’t looking directly at it when walking.
What if the premises are safe, but some event or action occurs suddenly makes them unsafe? Couldn’t the owner say that they didn’t know the premises were unsafe because they didn’t check?
In that case, the law again turns to the reasonable person argument. A business owner is responsible for fixing and acknowledging events or actions (in a timely manner) that make the property unsafe if a reasonable person knows or should have known the property had become unsafe.
Part of the property owner’s duty of care is to fix, remediate, or remedy the situation within a reasonable period of time. If someone spills something in a store, the manager or the employees should clean it up as soon as possible. They can’t wait a few hours, because the court are highly unlikely to consider that a reasonable period of time.
In addition, if a premises or location becomes unsafe, business and property owners should clearly mark the affected area as unsafe. They can place hazard tape, warning signs, or cones to alert anyone in the area that there is a danger and it is unsafe. Those signs you see in stores about a wet floor when they are mopping is to protect you and them.
Knowing this information, you are now ready to understand what the 6 most important factors to determining how much your slip and fall case is worth.
1) The Amount of the Full Damages
When you are injured in a slip and fall, the full damages you incur are a mix of things that need to be identified and valued. If you went to a doctor, the medical bills you have incurred (not simply what your insurance co-pay may have been) are part of the damages.
Beyond that, though, are the long term effects of the damage. If you are unable to work because of your injury, whether for a short period of time or a long term disability, the loss in income is a damage you have incurred. If your house has to be retrofit to accommodate you because of the injury, that is a damage. All of these are easily identifiable monetary damages you have incurred and will go in determining how much your case is worth.
2) Future Treatment Costs
If you have to continue seeing a doctor or medical professional because of your injury, even if you have mobility, these future costs should not be paid by you, as you were not the one that caused the long-term damage. These costs are directly attributable to the slip and fall case and are used directly in the determination of your cases value.
3) How Much You Have Lost by Being Injured
Lets use an example for this. Lets say someone who was a truck driver slipped on some icy stairs at a client facility when getting paperwork signed to off-load his delivery truck. In trying to save himself, he grabs the handrail, but the ice was there too. He slips and his eye catches the handrail, making the driver blind in one eye temporarily. This sounds like a terrible accident, but at least the driver can still walk, talk, and isn’t completely blind.
Driving a truck requires you to have vision in both eyes, so he can’t drive a truck anymore. This means the occupation he studied for and is getting paid to do is gone. If his livelihood has been impacted by this accident, the loss in income is something that can be quantified and needs to be taken into consideration for his case.
Although the example above is fictional, slip and fall accidents often have severe losses because of the injury, and a good attorney will fight to make sure you get what you deserve for those losses.
4) How Much You Will Lose in the Future Because of the Damages
Using the same example above, what if the driver was permanently blind in one eye. While he can work in the office, they can’t pay him the same wages as if he were on the road. Assuming he earned $60,000 per year on the road and will earn $45,000 in the office, the other $15,000 per year, with adjustments made for inflation and average increases in both roles, will be considered.
The subsequent loss in income over his working years will all be taken into account when determining the future losses for your case. Your attorney will do all the research for you to get you the most they can for your case, but they know how to make all this information highly relevant to the case and the courts.
5) Pain and Suffering
This one is the hardest to quantify, as it relies on every individual person’s state of mind. If you are wheelchair bound because of your accident, and your spouse can’t take care of you in that condition, causing a divorce, that is very difficult to handle emotionally. This falls into the pain and suffering category.
What if you suffer from phantom pains because of your injury for years (or the rest of your life)? There is nothing physically wrong and no doctor can help, but you feel real pain. This also falls into the pain and suffering pool.
Last example (I promise); what if your injury causes you to become depressed. How that makes you feel can’t necessarily be measured in dollars and sense, but you are still feeling some pain and suffering. This is all vital to your case.
6) Hiring the Right Attorney
If you are injured in a slip and fall injury in Las Vegas, NV, you have options of lawyers who can represent you. The streets and the strip are littered with billboards of attorneys all claiming to be the best. How do you know, then, who is really the best.
You want to choose a personal injury attorney who does nothing but personal injury law. You want someone who has represented thousands of clients in slip and fall cases and knows exactly how to win them and get large settlements awarded in your favor.
At Paternoster Law Group, we believe that nobody who was injured in a slip and fall accident should proceed in dealing with the companies who caused the injury without talking to a qualified attorney first. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we know the games insurance play to get out of paying what you deserve.
Don’t fall for their tricks. You deserve every penny of damages the law allows you to collect. Call our team at Paternoster Law Group Personal Injury Lawyers at 702-213-9345 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We are conveniently located in Las Vegas and can schedule meetings in person at our office, wherever you are, or via tele-conference. The sooner you meet with us, the better your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.