What is the Average Slip and Fall Settlement in Wisconsin?
Each year, more than a million people seek treatment in emergency departments across the U.S. for injuries they incurred by slipping and falling. Slip and falls are the most common claim arising from premises liability, which is an area of the law that pertains to the legal responsibility that public, commercial, and private landowners and managers have for ensuring that their guests are safe for dangerous hazards. If you have been injured as the result of a slip and fall case in Wisconsin, you likely have a lot of questions about your right to recover damages from the person who caused your accident. One of the questions we hear most often from our clients and prospective clients is: What is the average slip and fall settlement?
The truth is that there are no average settlements. Each case is unique, and the value of each case is based on the expenses and life impacts that were incurred by the injured person as well as a number of other factors. Read on for more information about the factors that can impact your settlement.
Damages Available in Wisconsin Cases
Premises liability cases such as slip and fall accidents fall under the wide umbrella of personal injury law, and claimants seek recovery of damages through the guidance and representation of a personal injury lawyer. One of the services your lawyer will provide for you is a valuation of your case. In order to determine how much your case is worth, your lawyer will consider the damages you have incurred as a result of the injury you sustained. In Wisconsin, the following damages are available to accident victims who were injured due to someone else’s recklessness or carelessness:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment both at the scene or in the emergency department, physician and surgical services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, prescription medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages due to missing work because of the injury or in order to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the injury results in permanent disability that renders you unable to return to work.
- Non-economic damages, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life.
How Damages are Calculated
Economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, are easily quantified as they result in a bill for services or proof of wage loss. However, the non-economic damages are those that refer to life impacts. The way this type of damage is calculated is by taking the total amount of economic damages and multiplying that amount by a number between 1.5 and 5. The more severe the injuries, the higher the multiplier is used. The total amount of non-economic damages is then added to the amount of economic damages to establish the overall value to your case.
Factors Impacting Settlements
As stated, each slip and fall case is unique and presents its own amount of damages. However, there are some factors that can impact the value to your case and the ultimate amount that is offered for settlement. Those factors include:
- The amount of insurance that the liable property owner has. Insurance is the means by which the vast majority of personal injury settlements are made. While it is possible to file a lawsuit against an uninsured person, collecting an award from the defendant will be very difficult as most defendants can’t afford to pay for your damages out-of-pocket.
- The severity of your injuries. More severe injuries produce a higher multiplier for calculating non-economic damages, as a severely injured person is likely to have more impacts on their life as a result of the injury than someone who suffered a minor injury in their slip and fall accident. The economic expenses will probably be higher, as well, as a severe injury is more likely to produce more medical costs and result in more time away from work.
- The clarity of liability. While it seems straight-forward that your injuries were a result of a property owner’s failure to remedy dangerous conditions that could harm guests or to properly warn their guests of hazards that they knew about or reasonably should have known about, there are some complicating facets of these cases. One of those complications is in regards to what type of guest you were. If you were injured as a social or business guest, the property owner has a higher duty of care than if you were trespassing on the property when the injury occurred. Also, the property owner’s insurance company will often attempt to reduce their liability by claiming that the accident was at least partially your fault. Some common defenses in this type of case include allegations that the hazard was so obvious that you should have seen it without being warned or that your slip and fall accident was the result of your own behavior, such as texting while walking or wearing inappropriate shoes for the known condition of the property.
- Your age and overall health at the time that the injury occurred. Age becomes a factor in certain damage categories such as lost wages or loss of future earning capacity. The reason for this is because a person who becomes injured in the middle of a career generally earns more than a child or young adult without much work experience or a person who is retired. This means they stand to lose more money for missing work or being unable to return to work after being injured. Your health is sometimes a factor as it is yet another aspect of your case that the insurance company will use to avoid paying on your claim. If you had a pre-existing injury to the area of your body that was injured from the slip and fall accident, the argument will likely be made that the pain you are suffering is a result of that prior injury, not the accident you suffered.
- Your patience. Obtaining a settlement offer that fairly compensates you after your slip and fall accident can take some time. Many claimants — faced with the expenses of their injuries — are tempted to accept the first settlement offer that is made. This is often a mistake, as the offer is generally too low to cover all of the damages and can leave you paying for additional expenses out of pocket. Because litigation is expensive, the best settlement offer is usually the one that is made just before trial begins or even after the trial has begun but before a verdict is rendered.
If you’ve suffered an injury as the result of a slip and fall, let us help you understand your legal options. Contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.