Being injured as a result of a slip and fall accident in New York City is never fun. Winter is when people commonly think about slip related injuries, but in reality, they can and do happen at any time of the year. When someone sustains one of these injuries, one of the first questions that they ask is, “what is a slip and fall accident worth?” That is a reasonable question; just because you have been hurt does not mean that the bills stop coming. You have to pay for a place to live, buy food to eat, and keep the lights and the heat on. On top of all of that, you now have medical bills to pay. Getting the compensation you deserve for your injury is essential. We understand—Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier, P.C. has been protecting the rights of injured parties in New York City and beyond since 2001.
Unfortunately, there is no set amount that any slip and fall accident case is worth. The amount that you are entitled to depends on whether or not the property owner or manager is legally liable for your injury, if you had any culpability in the accident, the degree to which you have been injured, and the amount of insurance the responsible party has available to deal with the claim. Below are some of the factors that New York City slip and fall attorneys take into account when estimating the value of a case.
Who is Liable for your Slip and Fall Accident?
An important concept to understand in any New York City slip and fall case is what is known as premises liability. Whoever owns or controls a piece of property, whether it is a private business, residence, public building, sidewalk, or park has a legal responsibility to identify and remedy hazards to the people who use that space. This obligation for the safety of their property includes ensuring that the area is free of wet floors, snow, ice, and other hazards that might render a walking surface slick enough to cause a slip and fall injury. Additionally, stairways must be kept in good repair, have adequate lighting, and secure handrails.
In order to prove premises liability, three elements need to be established:
1. You must have been legally on the property, or if you were trespassing, the owner of the property has to have known you were there and not asked you to leave or warned you about a slip and fall hazard.
2. The owner or manager of the property must have been aware of the unsafe condition, or at least has to have been negligent enough to do nothing to assess the state of the property so that the hazard could be mitigated. If the dangerous condition was not yet corrected or if there had not yet been sufficient time to fix the issue, the property owner must have warned visitors.
3. The dangerous condition must be the proximate cause of your injury. That is, you must have gotten hurt as a direct consequence of a slip and fall caused by the property owner’s failure to correct a safety hazard they either knew about or could reasonably be expected to be aware of.
Proximate Cause and the Circumstances of your Case
The actual slip and fall event must directly cause your injury for you to receive full compensation. For example, if you have a pre-existing back injury that renders you unsteady on your feet, you may find that your slip and fall case is not worth as much as you think. You will need to be able to prove that your injury was a direct result of the negligence of the property owner.
Additionally, the degree to which you have been injured, how much you are expected to recover, the type of medical treatment you have received or will need, and the degree to which your slip and fall accident has impacted your life are all part of the overall compensation picture. Your occupation, the amount of wages that you have lost, your age, and pre-accident physical condition are also considerations when determining the award to which you are entitled.
The Concept of Comparative Negligence
Accidents of any type are complicated events that often have more than one cause. It is a fact of law that you are required to see and avoid hazards that are in plain sight, and a common tactic of defendants and insurance companies is to claim that the injured party ignored warnings or a defect that was reasonably obvious to the casual observer. For example, if a shop owner had placed “slippery when wet” signs around a puddle on the floor and taped off of the area, a jury could reasonably assign some level of blame to an injured party who chose to ignore the warnings.
New York liability law operates on the premise of “comparative negligence.” When a jury looks at the facts of a case, they can assign a percentage of the blame for the slip and fall accident to the injured party. If a jury decides that you were 30% responsible for the accident, you’ll receive only 70% of the total award.
What Insurance Coverage does the Defendant Have?
The settlements and judgments that result from slip and fall cases in New York City are usually paid out by the defendant’s insurance company. The quality of insurance and the amount of coverage vary widely; a city building likely has a large policy that has relatively high compensation limits, while the corner shop probably carries a policy with significant compensation limits. You may well find that the amount of an award you receive as the result of a New York City slip and fall accident may be limited by compensations caps imposed by the property owner’s insurance policy company.
How to get an Accurate Assessment of the Value of your Slip and Fall Case
As you can appreciate, premises and comparative liability laws are very complicated. Even though they happen thousands of times per year, every single slip and fall accident is unique. Coming up with an estimate of how much your case is worth is nearly impossible to do on your own—that is why you need to leverage the knowledge of an experienced New York City slip and fall attorney. You can rest assured that the defendant’s insurance company will try to work the law to their advantage so that they wind up paying as little as possible. At Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier, P.C., our personalized representation puts the law to work for you. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, we’ll evaluate the particulars of your case to give you an honest and accurate assessment of the compensation you can expect to receive. Reach out to us via our website or call us today at (212) 777-9400.