When slip and fall accident victims meet for the first time with a premises liability lawyer, the first question they typically ask is: How much is my case worth? The answer is, as with most things in the law: It depends. Below, we discuss the factors that affect the likely value of your personal injury claims. If you have been injured in a slip and fall on someone else’s property in New York, call a dedicated NYC slip and fall lawyer at the Kohn Law Firm for advice and assistance.
How Bad Are Your Injuries?
The principal factor in determining the value of your slip and fall case is the extent of your injuries, as well as how those injuries have impacted your life. Personal injury settlements and jury awards are based primarily on determining what amount is necessary to compensate you for the harm you have suffered. In New York, slip and fall plaintiffs can recover both “economic” and “non-economic” damages.
Economic damages include things that can be measured quantitatively, such as past and future anticipated medical bills, income lost while recovering from injury, and the costs of rehabilitation and retraining. Non-economic damages are the more intangible, but no less real, harm accident victims suffer, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, mental anguish, and other psychological injury.
If you suffered a serious injury that will result in lasting damage (e.g., paralysis, chronic pain, loss of limb), you could have a very significant claim for damage. If, on the other hand, you suffered only mild discomfort and will achieve a full recovery, then you might have a claim for damages but it will be more limited. In the latter case, you can still certainly recoup all of your medical bills and other expenses.
How Strong is Your Case?
The vast majority of personal injury cases result in settlement. Plaintiffs and defendants alike prefer to avoid trial. Trials are long and costly, as well as emotionally and mentally draining. They are also risky: You never know what a jury might do. The value of your case, then, turns heavily on whether you can prove to the defendant that you are likely to get a significant award from the jury, should you go to trial.
If you can convince the defendant that you will win at trial and that your award will be substantial, they will be more apt to offer you a reasonable settlement. If they believe your case is weak, and your damages are minimal, then they might offer only a lowball settlement. Your attorney will help you understand the strength of your case, including the evidence of negligence: Did a staircase collapse? Was a spill left uncleaned and unattended for hours? Did the defendants actually create the hazard themselves?
Additionally, the defendant’s personal risk-averseness will come into play. Some defendants are willing to risk losing at trial if it means they have any chance at paying little or nothing. Other defendants are willing to pay out a reasonable settlement just to avoid the risk of a huge jury award at trial. Your attorney will evaluate the defendant and work with you to determine a reasonable and attainable settlement amount.
Who is the Defendant?
While the extent of your injuries and their impact on your life should, technically, determine the value of your personal injury claims, there are practical limitations on how much you can recover. If you were injured in someone’s home, your award will likely be limited by their homeowner’s insurance or other general liability insurance. People simply cannot afford to pay much more out of pocket.
If, however, you were injured in a grocery store or other public place, then the defendant might have significantly “deeper pockets.” If your injuries are severe, and the defendant is able to afford paying a higher award, then your chances of getting a higher-value settlement or jury award are greater as well.
How Bad Was the Defendant’s Conduct?
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to collect a significant award of additional damages beyond those necessary to compensate you for your injuries. Personal injury plaintiffs can collect “punitive” damages when the defendant’s conduct was especially reckless or malicious. Punitive damages are awarded on top of “compensatory” damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc.); they are meant to punish wrongdoers rather than to compensate accident victims.
In New York, punitive damages are not very common, and the bar is high. Plaintiffs must show that the defendant’s conduct was so deliberately and consciously negligent that their conduct was “willful and wanton.” In a slip and fall case, the plaintiff would likely need to show either that the defendant deliberately created the hazard that led to the accident, or that they consciously and egregiously disregarded the risk posed by the hazard (such as if a hazardous condition was left for days or weeks, causing multiple accidents or near-accidents).
Compassionate and Professional Legal Services After a Bronx Slip and Fall Accident
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a slip & fall on someone else’s property in New York, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the experienced and trial-ready New York slip and fall injury lawyers at the Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm for a free consultation at 718-409-1200.