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How are Slip and Fall Settlements Determined?

By M. Lupica
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many factors that are considered when determining the amount to be paid for slip and fall settlements. It will depend mostly upon the circumstances under which the victim was injured, and whether or not it implicates fault on the part of the owner of the property. From there, the special and general damages may be computed. If the breach of duty by the owner is particularly egregious, then punitive damages — damages ordered solely to punish the liable party for their actions — may be assessed as well.

In order to determine fault of the owner, the first step is to look at the actual cause of the injury. If the cause was a dangerous condition the owner knew existed or should have known existed, that is the first indication of their liability. Once that requirement is satisfied, the question now turns on the right of the victim to be on the property. If the victim was also invited as a guest of the owner or the property is a business or other semi-public place, then the owner is almost definitely liable for the victim’s injuries. Only very particular circumstances will lead to trespassers recovering in slip and fall settlements.

Typically damages will be calculated in two categories, called special damages and general damages. Special damages are the actual costs of the accident including medical costs, loss of income from missed time at work, as well as pain and suffering. General damages are theoretical damages to be calculated as an estimate of future losses. General damages in slip and fall settlements include both pecuniary losses, such as loss of future income, as well as more abstract concepts like costs to the future enjoyment of life as a result of the injury.

In certain circumstances, the victim may be in position to receive punitive damages, which leads to much higher amounts in slip and fall settlements because of the uncertainty in the size of the potential award. Courts are much more likely to grant punitive damages if the injury occurred on the property of a business than if the injury occurred at the home of a private citizen. If someone injures themselves slipping on rainwater that has gathered in a puddle at the entrance of a supermarket on a rainy day, they may be granted punitive damages if the supermarket acted with negligence or disregard for the safety of their customers. For example, if there is no sign warning entrants to the building of the possibility of slippery floors, and there is no rug at the entrance for entrants to wipe their feet as they enter, it may lead to punitive damages.

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Discussion Comments

By Ruggercat68 — On Jan 28, 2015

Considering how much a person has to do in order to prove a slip and fall injury was legitimate, I can't believe how many people still try to file false slip and fall lawsuits. I've seen closed circuit videos where the alleged victim can be seen spraying oil on the floor and then having an obviously choreographed fall.

I suppose a lot of these slip and fall claims get settled out of court so that both parties get what they want. The business gets to keep its name out of court proceedings, and the victim gets monetary compensation.

I can see where a legitimate slip and fall accident victim should get compensated fairly for all of the other hardships that a personal injury creates. I'd want the income I lost from being out of work, the actual medical expenses, any rehabilitation costs, and punitive damages to make sure that business or homeowner will make sure an accident like that couldn't happen again.

By mrwormy — On Jan 27, 2015

When I worked at a buffet restaurant, my manager stressed the importance of preventing slips and falls. If a piece of food fell on the floor, the person in charge of that particular food bar would have to sweep it up or mop it up as soon as possible. If someone was assigned to mop the floor during the day, we put up at least two signs warning customers of slippery conditions.

I asked him one day why he was so concerned about these things, and he told me that a customer had a bad slip and fall accident caused by a french fry on the floor. She filed a slip and fall claim while she was in the hospital, and she hired a well-know slip and fall attorney. The restaurant had to pay a substantial amount of money in the settlement. He didn't want it to happen ever again.

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