Georgia property owners are required to properly maintain the premises, so dangerous conditions don’t pose a risk of harm to others.
When they don’t, accidents can occur, causing severe injuries or even death. Fortunately, you do have rights as a victim.
Though many people refer to them as slip and fall cases, the term “premises liability” applies in the practice of personal injury law. To recover compensation, you must prove four sets of facts:
- The property owner, occupier, or other party in charge of the premises had a legal duty to ensure that it’s safe
- That person or entity breached this duty
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident in which you were injured
- You suffered losses because of your injuries
If you can establish these essential elements, you can recover compensation for your losses. However, you probably have many questions about how slip and fall cases work, what amount you can recover, and whether it’s possible to obtain damages through settlement.
You can get specific details by consulting with a premises liability lawyer, but some background information may answer some of your questions.
How Slip and Fall Settlements Work
The first step in pursuing a premises liability case is to file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. Keep in mind that, though this could be the owner, it could also be any person or entity that maintains or has control over the property. Examples include:
- A property manager
- The landlord that leases out the premises
- A tenant who rents space on the property
- An organization in charge of security over the space
- A promoter of an event that takes place on the premises
- Many more
When you file your claim with the insurance company, you need to include all the details regarding the four elements described above. The claims adjuster will review your documentation, conduct an investigation, and determine how to proceed.
It’s rare the insurer will pay out your claim in full right away. Instead, the company might make a counteroffer which is far lower than what you expect to settle your claim. The insurer may even deny payment entirely, on the grounds that you caused the injury or your injuries aren’t that severe.
These negotiations can be intimidating, which is why you should retain a skilled lawyer to represent you. The average slip and fall settlement amount increases considerably when you have an attorney on your side to fight against the insurance company.
Challenges with Estimating Slip and Fall Settlement Amounts
Even when your claim is solid and your rights seem clear-cut, there can be hurdles in proving your case. The issue is that, in slip and fall cases, settlement amounts can vary dramatically. The two primary factors in negotiations with the insurer are:
- Fault: You need to prove that the property owner’s negligence caused your injuries, such as by failing to make repairs on dangerous conditions or being careless when fixing them. Other proof of fault may be neglecting to put up a sign, install a protective barrier, or failing to inspect the premises for hazards.
- The Nature of Your Injuries: Slip and fall settlement amounts are directly tied to how badly you were hurt. Obviously, there’s a big difference in compensation if you suffered a traumatic brain injury as compared to a bruise. In other situations, it’s not so easy to determine how much you should recover.
With respect to both of these considerations, you must have solid, verifiable proof. The types of evidence that can provide essential support to your claim may include:
- Your own recollection of how the slip and fall happened
- Any witnesses who saw you get hurt
- Video or photograph evidence of the fall
- Documents regarding prior incidents involving slip and fall accidents
- Government paperwork on building code violations
- Medical records showing diagnosis of your injuries, the course of treatment, and physician notes
- Your paychecks reflecting how much income you lost while out of work
- Your notes on how your injuries affect your life and physical limitations
- Any other information that’s relevant to establishing fault and the severity of your injuries
Potential Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries
In a successful claim, your slip and fall settlement amount may include economic, out-of-pocket damages. Compensation for your medical bills and lost wages are examples. You may also be entitled to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, and others.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Premises Liability
If you were hurt in a slip and fall due to dangerous conditions on property, please contact the offices of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. You can call 706-354-4000 or fill out a free case evaluation form online.