Austin Slip and Fall Lawyer
Table of Contents
- What are Damages?
- The Two Types of Compensatory Damages
- An Austin Slip and Fall Attorney Can Help You Prove General Damages
- When Should You Contact an Austin Slip and Fall Lawyer?
Between hospital expenses and lost wages, unintentional falls have an annual price tag of nearly $95 billion, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This figure doesn’t account for other medical expenses or personal losses such as pain and suffering or property damage. Many slip and fall accident victims and their families turn to an experienced Austin slip and fall lawyer for help receiving compensation to cover their losses.
Slip and fall injuries can lead to several financial and personal losses. Those who are liable for these injuries are responsible for making victims “whole again.” What does it mean to make an injured party “whole” again? To be made whole, they must be put in the same position they were in before they slipped and fell. Fairly paying a slip and fall claimant for both types of losses makes them whole again.
All personal injury claims, no matter what type, have two indispensable elements; liability and damages. Liability means legal responsibility. If a person or party causes a slip and fall injury, they are legally responsible for the resulting damages.
Damages are the basis for monetary compensation when a personal injury occurs. Paying for damages legally fixes the harm that the liable party caused. Of course, no amount of compensation can ever make it as if a slip and fall never happened. The closest possible remedy is receiving the money to cover injury-related expenses and other losses.
The money a slip and fall victim should receive depends on the types and amounts of damages they suffer due to their injuries. If someone receives only scrapes or minor bruising and doesn’t need medical treatment, they won’t have a valid claim. In such a minor case, there aren’t any damages the person who fell could claim.
If someone is at an increased risk of injury due to a prior medical condition, it doesn’t change their claim’s value. The party who causes the slip and fall is still liable for the damages they cause. For instance, if a woman in her 60s with osteoporosis falls on a slippery walkway outside the mall, she has an increased risk of breaking a bone. However, her osteoporosis doesn’t decrease the property owner’s liability for her injuries or damages if she breaks a bone or otherwise suffers an injury.
Suppose the person who caused your injuries acted deliberately or with extreme disregard for your safety and well-being. In that case, you have the right to ask the court for punitive damages.
Sometimes called exemplary damages, punitive damages typically only apply in high-dollar cases with representation from a skilled personal injury attorney. For example, if someone fell and sustained a traumatic brain injury or became paralyzed.
Personal injury settlements don’t involve punitive damages. Courts reserve punitive damages for cases involving the willful, malicious, oppressive, fraudulent, or reckless behavior of the at-fault party. Although much less common, courts use punitive damages to deter the at-fault party and others from behaving in similar ways in the future.
Compensatory damages reimburse injured parties for their losses. There are two categories; general and special.
Special or Economic Damages
Economic damages have a pre-set value. There’s no debating what special damages are worth. Special damages include:
Medical expenses unnecessarily burden slip and fall victims. Fall-related medical bills in the U.S. exceed $38 billion annually. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the average hospital cost for a single slip and fall injury is more than $38,000. Even worse, snow-related accidents can average up to $48,000.
Your medical costs can include:
- Ambulance and EMS services
- Emergency department care
- Inpatient hospital care
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Lab work and other diagnostic tests such as x-rays or MRIs
Lost Wages and Income
Some slip and fall injuries victims can’t return to work right away or won’t even be able to return to their job in the future. If this applies to you, you are entitled to seek damages for lost wages and other lost earnings. You can calculate your lost wages starting from the date of your slip and fall through the current date. If you are still off work or limited in your ability to earn wages in the way you did before, calculate them for as long as you may be unable to work.
Be sure to also account for any bonuses, tips, or commissions you lost out on by not working.
Your Austin slip and fall lawyer can ensure you include all other injury-related expenses you incurred when calculating the value of your compensatory damages.
Out-of-pocket injury-related expenses could consist of:
- Gas, parking, and hotel expenses for traveling to medical appointments
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Medical equipment such as slings, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, or respirators
- Any other expenses you incurred due to your injury
If you anticipate future out-of-pocket expenses, estimate and include those in your claim too.
Economic damages might also include the repair or replacement of your damaged property. For example, if you broke your wedding ring when you slipped and fell, your damages should cover the cost to repair or replace your ring.
Other examples of property that might become damaged in a slip and fall accident include:
- Cell phones
- Other electronic devices
General or non-economic damages are the natural results of the at-fault party’s negligent actions. Even though they don’t come with a bill or a receipt, there’s no denying a connection between what the at-fault party did or didn’t do and the injured person’s general damages.
Depending on the specifics of a slip and fall claim, general damages might include:
- Pain and suffering for the real pain and discomfort you experienced at the time of the accident and suffering resulting from the injury and its treatments
- Mental anguish including feelings of distress, fear, anxiety, depression, trauma, or grief
- Disfigurement or scarring to cover the embarrassment or humiliation you might endure because of severe scarring, disfigurement, or an amputation
- Physical impairment or disability, for example, not being able to take care of yourself after suffering a brain injury or being unable to walk on your own due to a spinal cord injury
- Loss of enjoyment of life applies when your injury keeps you from enjoying everyday activities, exercise, recreational pursuits, hobbies, traveling, and family traditions, among many other things
- Loss of consortium, also sometimes known as loss of affection or loss of companionship
The value of general damages can be challenging to determine since they don’t come with an assigned rate. General damages typically have up to five times the value of a victim’s special damages in severe cases and as little as 1.5 times the value in less severe claims.
Establishing Compensatory Damages
Slip and fall injury victims can’t simply say they suffer damages from a slip and fall and expect to receive compensation. Injury law requires that they prove how property owners or their agents’ actions led to their injuries and damages.
More specifically, they must demonstrate that:
- They suffered damages
- Their damages were the result of the other party’s negligence
- The value of their damages
Injured parties need to prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” You must establish that your version is more likely to be true than not to be true.
Establishing Special Damages
Special damages are generally simple to prove. Be sure to save your medical bills and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses such as prescriptions, durable medical equipment, or chiropractic care. Employer and tax records can be helpful to prove your lost wages.
You can establish how much the at-fault party owes for your lost income with a letter from your employer. The letter should include:
- Your regular pay rate
- How many hours you were couldn’t work due to your injuries
- Your total amount of lost wages caused by your injury
If applicable, your employer should include lost opportunities to earn overtime and any paid vacation time or sick leave, sometimes known as PTO (paid time off), you had to use due to your injuries.
Self-employed workers can also have a claim for lost income. They can use tax returns, profit and loss statements, and evidence of lost assignments to prove their lost wages.
For any damaged property, be sure to save receipts for the out-of-pocket expenses for repairs or replacements.
General damages are certainly harder to prove as there might not be concrete evidence as to their existence. Insurance companies are naturally suspicious of general damages since they don’t have any method to measure someone’s distress or suffering.
However, general damages are just as crucial to a slip and fall claim as special damages. General damages can be permanent and more challenging for victims to deal with than special damages.
To support your claim for general damages, your lawyer can use testimony from:
- Your treating doctor
- A mental health care provider
- Family or friends who knew you before your slip and fall
Your medical records could also serve as evidence for some types of general damages.
Maximizing Your Compensation
One of the best ways to maximize your slip and fall compensation is with legal representation. With a slip and fall attorney by your side, you will have an advocate who can ensure you include all of your special and general damages in your claim. Your Austin slip and fall lawyer will know what evidence will be required to prove your damages and other ways to maximize your compensation. You can help ensure fair compensation for your injuries by speaking with a skilled Austin slip and fall attorney today.
It’s in your best interest to contact an Austin slip and fall attorney as soon as you can after your slip and fall accident. Waiting to reach out to one can jeopardize your case and be detrimental to receiving the compensation you are entitled to receive.
If you wait too long, your case could be time-barred by the Texas personal injury statute of limitations. Under this law, you only have two years from the date of your slip and fall injury to file a legal case. If you file a case even one day after the deadline, it’s more than likely that the attorney for the other party will move the court to dismiss your case. The court has no choice but to grant it. Two years might seem like plenty of time. Still, your Austin slip and fall lawyer needs adequate time to investigate your case, determine who is liable, build your claim, and to follow the proper legal procedures. The more time they have to complete these essential tasks, the better.
It’s also beneficial to have an Austin slip and fall attorney on your side from the start to protect you from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Far too many slip and fall accident victims have unknowingly settled their claims for much less than they were worth or innocently said something to significantly decrease the value of their claim. Insurance adjusters can be intimidating. When you have legal representation, you generally don’t have to face them anymore.
Count on a Knowledgeable Austin Slip and Fall Lawyer from The Patel Firm
You are suffering from an injury you shouldn’t have sustained in the first place. You deserve the time and space to heal and recover without worrying about your legal claim. By hiring a qualified Austin slip and fall attorney, you can get what you deserve without having to worry about handling all the details. Call The Patel Firm today to discuss your slip and fall injury claim with an experienced Austin slip and fall accident attorney. Call (361) 400-2036 or contact us online to learn more. Remember that your legal rights are time-barred by the Texas statute of limitations, so don’t delay.