The thought of filing a slip and fall lawsuit and going to court can be overwhelming. However, the good news is that the majority of fall claims never make it to trial. Instead, your best chance of success may be to settle your slip and fall claim through out-of-court negotiations.
To get the fast and fair result you need, it is best to hire an experienced and successful slip and fall accident lawyer to handle your case. He or she will talk you through the strengths and challenges of the case and suggest options that will give you the best chance of success.
“The Fast Firm” of Gould Injury Law works to get our clients the results they need without waiting forever. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to guide you through the process of settling a slip and fall claim as fast as possible.
Step One: Prove the Link
Just because you have fallen on someone else’s property does not automatically mean you have a fall case. Equally, just because you can prove you are injured doesn’t always mean you can get a settlement. To settle a slip and fall case, you have to prove the causal link between the two.
Why cause matters
Causation is the first thing the insurance company will look to attack. They may try to claim that your injuries didn’t happen where you say they did. Or they may question whether your slip-and-fall really caused your accident.
It is up to you – or your fall accident lawyer if you hire one – to prove the causal link. Without proving this link, there will be no slip and fall claim for you to pursue.
How to prove causation
There are several ways to prove causation, including:
- Medical evidence: If you seek treatment immediately after your slip-and-fall accident, you stand a better chance of proving causation. Your medical records should link the injuries you sustained to your accident. If you delay in seeking treatment, it may be harder to prove your fall accident caused your injuries. In some cases, a personal injury lawyer or insurance adjuster may depose your healthcare provider.
- Physical evidence: Surveillance camera footage is one of the best ways of showing your slip-and-fall accident caused your injuries. If it shows you walking fine before your fall and then being stretchered away later, it could be strong evidence of the causal link.
- Witness testimony: Eyewitnesses may testify that they saw the accident happen and know what caused it. However, expert witness testimony is sometimes even more valuable. Medical experts and accident reconstructionists may be able to demonstrate the link and strengthen your slip and fall case.
It pays to work fast and gather evidence as quickly as possible. It may be best to wait until you have achieved maximum medical improvement to settle the claim, but working as fast as possible can help when gathering proof of causation.
Pre-existing conditions and causation
Having a pre-existing condition should not stop you from pursuing a slip and fall settlement. Your fall accident could have aggravated an old injury or made a condition worse.
Your fall accident lawyer can compare medical records from before and after your accident. If you now experience symptoms that you did not have before the accident, this could help prove a causal link for which you can seek compensation.
Step Two: Prove Negligence
The second challenge is not simply proving that hazardous conditions existed and caused your accident. You must prove that the property owner knew about the problem, or should have known about it, and taken action to rectify it.
Evidence of negligence
Your personal injury lawyer may find evidence the property owner had actual notice, in written or verbal form. Alternatively, it may be proven that the owner had constructive notice, as in the problem had been going on for so long that he or she should have known about it.
Proof may come in one of the following forms:
- Testimony: A third party, such as an employee or a visitor to the property, may testify under oath that he or she knew about the condition at a certain time in the past. This may be enough to establish constructive notice. Work with a premises liability attorney who acts fast, sooner rather than later, as memories tend to fade over time.
- Internal incident report: Many businesses keep track of fall accidents that occur on their premises. The incident report may reveal how long the owner had known about the dangerous condition that caused your injury.
- Video footage: Surveillance cameras can show more than just your accident. They can also show how long a dangerous situation existed before you got injured. It pays to request the footage fast, before it gets recorded over.
Comparative negligence in Connecticut
You may feel you have built a strong case for negligence, only for the other side to come back with evidence that you were partially to blame. In Connecticut, this would not prevent you from pursuing compensation under the legal concept of comparative negligence.
According to General Statutes of Connecticut section 52-572h(b), being partly responsible does not “bar recovery in any action.” The takeaway is that if you are 50 percent or less responsible, then you can still pursue a settlement. However, the value of the settlement will be reduced by the proportion of responsibility assigned to you.
In a court case, the jury would decide the value of the settlement and your degree of liability. When settling out of court, though, this will need to be arrived at through negotiations.
Step Three: Prove Your Losses
Next, you must demonstrate that your accident directly caused you losses. These can take many forms, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost earnings and business opportunities
- Property damage
It’s important to document all of your expenses, such as medical bills and other expenses related to your accident. If you cannot provide documentary evidence of your losses, it will be hard to recover them in your settlement.
If your accident has left you with a long-term condition or disability, you must also consider your future expenses. This includes future medical expenses and lost earnings. You may even require training for another job if you are not well enough to resume your former work.
Slip and fall attorneys can help you to make accurate calculations that may result in a fair settlement.
Step Four: Prove Your Suffering
Non-economic damages could include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium – the ability to enjoy a normal marital relationship
- Loss of enjoyment of life – you may no longer be able to participate in sports or other hobbies you used to enjoy
Pain and suffering and other non-monetary losses can be more difficult to prove than economic losses. Keeping a diary may prove helpful. Use it to record how you are feeling each day. Also, write down any limitations that your injuries have caused, such as having to pay someone to do tasks you could previously do yourself.
Step Five: Calculate Your Settlement
Next, your personal injury lawyer will work fast to use the information above to calculate what he or she feels is a fair settlement.
Calculating economic damages
This is the easier part of the calculations. It simply involves totaling all the bills already received and adding on the future anticipated expenses.
Calculating non-economic damages
There are two main methods that personal injury lawyers and insurance adjusters use to calculate non-economic damages: the per diem and multiplier methods.
The per diem method (a Latin legal term meaning “per day”) involves agreeing on a dollar amount to cover each day of suffering. This is used when slip-and-fall accident victims are expected to make a full recovery.
The multiplier method takes your total economic losses and then multiplies them by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the seriousness of your injuries. This may prove to be one of the key considerations in negotiations, as the insurance adjuster will want to keep this number as low as possible.
After making these calculations, your slip and fall lawyer will be ready to open negotiations for a settlement.
Step Six: State your Demands
Your personal injury lawyer will prepare and send a demand letter to the insurance company. It may include the following details:
- Brief discussion of the slip-and-fall accident and resulting injuries
- Itemized breakdown of the medical bills and other economic losses
- Breakdown of the non-economic losses sustained
- The amount of compensation requested
It’s very unlikely that the demand letter will settle the case. Rather, it is simply the opening gambit in the negotiations. Now, it’s time to fight for the settlement you deserve.
Step Seven: Play Hardball
Negotiating with an insurance adjuster is tough, and this is where the experience and skills of your personal injury lawyer have a chance to shine.
Attorneys know the tactics insurance adjusters try to use to reduce the amount they have to pay out. Your fall attorney will have prepared your case with these in mind and will be ready to counter them.
In some cases, back-and-forth negotiations can go on for months or years. At Gould Injury Law, though, our attorneys push hard to achieve faster results for our clients. We understand you need your settlement as fast as possible to get on with your life. That’s why we throw all our resources at concluding cases as fairly and fast as possible.
Step Eight: (Hopefully) Collect Your Settlement
There are a number of factors that can affect your final settlement. The seriousness of your injuries, the extent of the property owner’s liability, and your personal liability will all impact whether you achieve a settlement and how sizable it is.
Therefore, it is good to have frank, open discussions with your fall attorney and be realistic about what you can hope to achieve. Once your personal injury lawyer has negotiated a settlement that you are happy with, he or she will discuss payment terms with the insurance company.
Some folks prefer to receive their payout in a single payment. Others prefer a structured arrangement that provides regular payments for a certain period of time. Your personal injury lawyer can set up whichever arrangement you would prefer.
Let Gould Injury Law’s Skilled Negotiators Handle Your Case
To settle a slip and fall claim for a fair amount, you need a seasoned negotiator on your side. One who knows when to compromise and when to be firm. The attorneys at Gould Injury Law know exactly how to do that.
We’re headed up by Robert Gould, a third-generation lawyer who has spent over 20 years fighting for fast and fair settlements for fall victims. An experienced and aggressive negotiator, he used to train younger associates on negotiating tactics.
This fighting spirit runs through the entire attorney team. You can rest assured that if we take on your case, our slip and fall lawyers will leave no stone unturned in their quest to achieve the best possible settlement for you as fast as possible.
If you are ready to learn what your case could be worth, call 888-WIN-FAST today for a free consultation. Or complete our online contact form, and we will call you back fast.