Did you know that almost 10 million people go to the emergency room for a slip and fall injury every year?
This common accident can have devastating consequences, such as lost wages, chronic pain, and even death.
If you’re the victim of a slip and fall caused by negligence, you deserve compensation. And if the prospect of a trial sounds overwhelming, there’s good news: the vast majority of these cases reach a settlement before entering a courtroom.
Here are some tips to maximize your slip and fall settlement.
1. Stick to Your Appointments and Treatments
Right after your injury, going to a doctor’s office is just common sense—you’re in pain and you want to get better. As your treatment progresses, however, you may feel inclined to skip your appointments and “tough it out”.
Skipping appointments and treatment plans doesn’t just jeopardize your health. It can also significantly reduce your settlement total.
The other side will argue that you can’t be as hurt as you claim if you’re willing to skip treatments. They could also argue that some of your health problems stem from your refusal to follow your doctor’s orders, rather than your accident.
Keep in mind that your opposition will seize anything, including a skipped treatment, to twist into a statement to support their side. Don’t give them the opportunity.
2. Stay Off Social Media
The other side won’t just be following up on your medical treatments. Keep in mind that anything, no matter how insignificant it feels, can become ammunition for the other side. Going to a loved one’s birthday party, for example, can turn into “evidence” that you must not be as hurt as you claim.
That’s not to say you should become a paranoid hermit. But you should be extremely careful about the “evidence trail” you’re leaving for the defense.
The biggest way to cut down on that trail is to simply stay off of social media. Without even thinking about it, we tend to use social media to showcase positive moments and downplay painful ones. But you never know how the defense may misrepresent a social media post down the line.
3. Be Honest
Don’t give the other side an opportunity to downplay your real injuries. But don’t overstate the slip and fall’s impacts on your life either.
Slip and fall injuries often hinge on the claimant’s credibility. And if you’re discovered exaggerating the incident’s negative effects, you lose all credibility. Credibility loss doesn’t just reduce your settlement—it can ruin your entire case.
In a worst-case scenario, overstating your injuries can lead to fraud charges and other legal consequences. To avoid those consequences and protect your case, always remember that honesty is the best policy.
4. Document Whenever Possible
The best way to prove you’re being honest about your injuries? Document everything.
This principle covers all medical consultations and procedures. Document when you have major surgery, and document when you take a Tylenol for accident-related pain. Get copies of all doctor’s notes, x-rays, and any other medical documents.
Take photos of where the slip and fall occurred from multiple angles. Get written testimony from any witnesses. If the accident happened at a place of business, talk to employees and other patrons about the circumstances leading up to it.
Document whenever the consequences of your slip and fall affect your life. Maybe you used to love square dancing but can’t participate anymore. Maybe youyour slip and fall affect your life used to fix things around your house but now have to hire a professional.
Documenting everything about this stressful experience can be emotionally painful, not to mention a lot of work. But it is crucial to maximizing your payout. Friends, family, and your attorney’s office all may be able to help you.
5. Find the Right Doctor
Slip and fall cases often boil down to testimony from a handful of key figures—and that handful can include more than one doctor. Remember that insurance companies, too, have access to doctors who can help them win their case. That’s why it’s crucial to have a credible doctor on your side.
Medical professionals get into their fields to help the sick, not to talk to lawyers. Unfortunately, that can result in non-cooperation with personal injury claims.
Sometimes, you can work with your doctor to find a scenario that works for everyone. Your doctor may be willing to sign a letter describing your medical circumstances, for instance, instead of submitting to a full deposition.
Going to your regular provider is always optimal. It heads off the perception that you are doctor “shopping.” But some doctors just don’t want to get involved with personal injury disputes, no matter how legitimate the claim.
In this case, it’s best to seek another doctor.
Remember that you’re seeking a doctor who will provide accurate, clear testimony. If your doctor does not come across as credible, they will not help your case.
6. Be Cautious About Your First Offer
You’re hurt, you’re worried about the future, and your opposition seems hellbent on discrediting you. So it may be tempting to accept the first offer that arrives, just to help the process end.
But insurers know that claimants often feel overwhelmed. They may take advantage of that fact by low-balling their offer.
Remember that settlement is a negotiation and bargaining process. You can research jury-awarded amounts for similar cases using resources like verdictsearch.com. The right personal injury lawyer can help you find more information about an appropriate settlement amount.
Don’t be afraid to counter-offer with some of the higher numbers you find. A settlement is often in both parties’ best interests to avoid the cost of a trial. You can leverage that fact by being fair but firm when it comes to settlement negotiations.
If your opposition absolutely refuses to budge, however, be prepared to go trial. Juries can award fair verdicts when insurers refuse to do so.
Your Slip and Fall Settlement Can Be Fair
Slip and fall accidents and their aftermath are painful and stressful. But you don’t have to go it alone.
Finding legal help can be one important step towards getting a fair slip and fall settlement. Educating yourself can be another. To learn more, look through the legal articles available on our site.