People often ask me what the average settlement amount for slip and fall cases are in Oregon. There is no average, really. How much your slip and fall case is worth depends on 3 things:
- Premises Liability: Was someone at fault for causing you to fall?
- Comparative Negligence: Were you at fault for falling?
- Damages: How badly were you injured and how much were your medical expenses, lost income, and other out-of-pocket expenses?
The Truth About Slip and Fall Settlement Calculators
Some law firms provide settlement calculators to estimate the value of a client’s slip and fall case. Unfortunately, these calculators are inaccurate and largely a waste of your time.
How much money your slip and fall case is worth is based on the factors mentioned earlier. It takes a slip and fall attorney who has thoroughly worked up your case to provide a reasonable estimate of the value. This is why it so important for slip and fall victims to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
Premises Liability Law Explained
Slip and fall accidents are frequently also referred to as premises liability accidents because they occur on a building or land. Whether the owner or operator of a building or land is liable depends on whether the person who fell was a customer, guest, or trespasser. Let’s look at the different scenarios:
- Customers can file a claim when a condition on the premises made it unsafe. This applies, regardless of whether the landowner or operator actually created that condition. The landowner or operator has a duty to inspect the premises, and fix all unsafe conditions or warn the customers of them. For example: a store owner is liable if a customer slips and falls on a foreign substance on the floor. It doesn’t matter if a store employee put it there, or if it was there for so long that an employee should have found and cleaned it up. In the very least, they should have warned of the customer of the danger. This is why you see “Wet Floor” signs after an area has been mopped.
- In contrast, guests can recover monies only if a landowner or operator created an unsafe condition – or recklessly or intentionally allowed that condition to remain. Similarly, they are also liable if they fail to warn their guests of known hidden or dangerous conditions. Guests can also file a claim if they got injured due to activities of the landowner or operator that failed to use reasonable care to protect the guest.
- Trespassers usually cannot file a claim against a land owner or operator – unless the landowner or operator recklessly or intentionally injured them.
Comparative Negligence in Oregon
Even if you prove that a landowner or operator is liable for your slip and full injuries, the amount you are entitled to recover will be reduced – or even eliminated – if you are found at fault for falling. This is called comparative negligence or fault.
Insurance companies often argue that a person injured in a slip and fall accident was at fault for not watching where they were going. They make this argument especially if the hazardous condition was in their opinion “open and obvious”.
Under Oregon law, if you are found 50% at fault or less, your damages are reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are found 51% at fault or more, you recover nothing.
Actual Slip and Fall Damages
How much your slip and fall case is worth depends on the following factors:
- How badly were you injured?
- To what extent did those your injuries limit your ability to function – and for how long?
- How much were your medical expenses?
- How much income did you lose?
- Did you have any other out-of-pocket expenses?
How Long Do Slip and Fall Cases Take?
It depends primarily on how badly you are injured to determine how long a slip and fall case takes. This also includes the times it takes for you to become medically stationary.
While some attorneys will settle claims before a client is medically stationary, I strongly advise against that. You simply don’t know the nature and full extent of your injuries until you have become medically stationary.
Once medically stationary, a case can generally be settled in a few months. This however depends on whether the insurance company accepts liability, does not argue you were comparatively at fault, and offers a reasonable amount. If they don’t accept liability and agree to the settlement, you may decide to file a lawsuit. In this case, the process can take much longer – sometimes even years.
Examples of Slip and Fall Settlements
The amount paid for slip and fall claims can vary greatly. They depend on how dangerous the conditions are, whether the person who fell was at fault, and how badly they were injured.
I have settled slip and fall cases from very small amounts up to nearly a 1/4 million dollars.