This is the ultimate guide to trip and fall claims (and settlements) in 2020. You’ll learn how to evaluate the settlement value of a trip and fall case.
You’ll also learn how to get the insurance information of the place where you fell.
Let’s get right into it.
If someone’s negligence caused you to trip and fall, you may have a case.
In a slip and fall, you slip on a substance. In a trip and fall, you catch your foot on something and fall. For purposes of having a claim, a slip and fall, and a trip and fall case are similar.
That said, trip and fall cases may be slightly easier to prove than slip and fall claims. This is because in many trip and fall claims, the property owner knows (or should know) of the hazard that you tripped on before you fell.
On the other hand, in many slip and fall cases, the property owner may not have known that the substance was on the floor before you fell.
In a moment, we’ll get into this in detail.
The amount of money that you may get usually depends on two factors. First, the landowner must (or should) have known about the hazard before you tripped and fell.
Second, you must be injured.
If you can’t show either of these, than you are not entitled to compensation.
Now, let’s look at a trip and fall settlement.
$120K Settlement for Trip and Fall Injury Claim (2020)
Tiffany was volunteering at a private school in Homestead, Miami-Dade County, Florida. The private school was located in a strip mall.
The mall owner hired a company to replace the tile floors outside of the school. In broad daylight, Tiffany exited the school, and walked through the parking lot.
She said that she walked through the parking lot because the tile was removed on the mall walkway. Thus, Tiffany claimed that she only had one safe pathway that she could walk through to get to her car.
Here is a photo that someone (who volunteered at the school) took after Tiffany fell.
Tiffany claimed that she tripped on yellow caution tape that she could not see before she fell. Tiffany said that the caution tape was on one of the barricades and connected to something else.
Unfortunately, she did not have a photo showing the caution tape connected to another object. This made her case tougher.
After Tiffany fell, one of the people who worked at the school took two photos. She sent those photos to Tiffany. The photos had two issues.
First, the photos don’t show anything wrong where the construction work was going on. One photo shows that some of the removed flooring was stacked in the grass. And another photo shows that a barricade was in the parking lot.
Second, the photos are poor quality. If you have an accident, please take good quality photos of whatever it is that you trip on. And don’t only take two photos. You should, at a minimum, have 10 photos or so of the area where you tripped and fell.
After Tiffany fell, she was in pain and on the ground. Someone called 911. Paramedics took her to the hospital. At the hospital, she was told that she broke her foot.
She Had Foot Surgery
There, a doctor performed surgery on her foot. Tiffany stayed at the hospital for a couple of days.
Unfortunately, Tiffany did not have Medicaid or any health insurance. Thus, the hospital charges were around $45,000 for her hospital stay and surgery. And she owed the entire amount.
After she was released from the hospital, Tiffany searched for a Miami trip and fall attorney. She called my office. I gave her a free consultation and Tiffany hired me right after we spoke.
Shortly after we spoke, I drove to meet her at the mall. Tiffany’s leg was in a cast.
And we had a problem:
The accident scene had changed. The new tile was already on the floor.
Nevertheless, Tiffany showed me the exact route that she took when exited the school door before she fell.
I requested that the mall owner tell me who their insurance company was. In Florida, a business is required to tell you the name of their insurance company if you get injured there.
But first, I had to find out who owned the mall. The mall did not have a property management company that had an office at the mall.
To find out who owned the mall, I searched the county appraiser’s office. Since Homestead is located in Miami-Dade County, I went to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s search page:
Next, I put in the address for the property where the accident happened.
In my case, the address was 211 Homestead so I typed in “211 Homestead”.
This tells you who owns the property. Next, I sent a letter to the property owner requesting their insurance information.
Your letter should also ask them to preserve all surveillance video for a long period of time before the fall. Sometimes I ask the property owner to preserve surveillance video for 24 hours before the accident.
Mall’s Insurance Company Said Tiffany Was Warned Not to Walk There
Markel (Evanston Insurance Company) insured the mall. After the accident, they hired an investigator to find out what happened. Markel said that the construction worker said that he warned Tiffany not to walk through the construction site.
The insurance company said that she could have walked around the construction site. In most fall down cases, each side usually has a different version of the events.
Here, the insurance company argued that the mall and its tile removal company did nothing wrong. Additionally, Markel argued that this accident happened in daylight. They said that they should not be liable for Tiffany tripping on yellow caution tape, which is highly visible.
Markel Insurance Company made a first offer of $55,000. Here is there email where they made the offer.
In May 2020, we settled her trip and fall case (without a lawsuit) with Markel for $120,000.
Here is the settlement check:
This chart shows the comparison between their first offer and the settlement amount:
Like most trip and fall injury claims with surgery, most of the settlement was for pain and suffering.
I estimate that about 72% of the settlement was for pain and suffering.
Tiffany’s medical bills were over $100,000.
However, I got the hospital to reduce her bill to $25,000.
I handled this case on a contingency fee. This means that I got paid a percentage of the settlement amount.
After my lawyer fees, costs and paying Tiffany’s final medical bills, she got about $45,879 in her pocket. (This doesn’t include the interest on her loan that we had to pay back.)
If Tiffany had health insurance, she likely would have got more money in her pocket.
This is the case in most trip and fall injury claims.
The $120,000 trip and fall injury claim settlement is about 3.5 times the final out of pocket medical bills.
$30K Trip and Fall Injury Claim Settlement
Dawn went to a wildlife safari park in Osceola County, Florida. During broad daylight, she claimed that she rolled her ankle and fell on a broken walkway.
You can see a photo that shows the general area of the cracked pavement:
An employee of the establishment came to the accident scene while Dawn was on the pavement.
They asked her some questions.
Dawn went to the hospital, where x-rays showed that she had a broken ankle. Specifically, she had a non-displaced right lateral malleolus fracture. She was at the hospital for a few hours.
She wanted to hire an injury lawyer. She looked on Youtube for an injury attorney who had good outcomes. She watched some of my videos and called me for a free consultation to see if I could represent her.
I personally spoke with her and she hired me.
I asked my client to lawfully take a photo that showed the measurement of the depth and width of the crack in the pavement that claimed caused her ankle to roll. I told her to use measuring tape, a deck of cards or a stack of pennies.
She had this photo taken, which showed a penny in one of the cracks.
In the following months, she received treatment for her broken ankle from an orthopedic doctor.
I asked Dawn to take a photo showing the walking boot that the doctor prescribed for her to wear.
You can see Dawn with a walking boot on her foot:
I sent this photo to the insurance adjuster.
Fortunately, Dawn did not need surgery. Her ankle made a very good recovery.
National Casualty Company insured the owner of the premises. K&K Insurance Group handled the claim for National Casualty Company. National Casualty Company is part of Scottsdale Insurance Company. Scottsdale is part of Nationwide Insurance Company.
K & K Insurance Group argued that Dawn was partially at fault for not avoiding the walkway since they said it was open and obvious. Their first offer to me was $5,000 to settle Dawn’s injury claim.
Here is the email:
Through aggressive negotiation, I settled Dawn’s personal injury case for $30,000.
Take a look at the settlement check:
How was I able to settle for $30K and not less?
First, there was something wrong with the pavement that we argued caused her to roll her ankle and fall. Second, the business knew that she fell. This helped her case since it made it more difficult for the business to argue that she was not injured on its property.
Third, she broke her ankle and went to the hospital quickly after the accident. Fourth, we were dealing with one of the better insurance companies. Nationwide Insurance Company generally pays better than other insurance companies.
Why didn’t I settle for more than $30,000?
Because her fall happened outside during broad daylight. The insurance company argued that Dawn should have seen the broken walkway before she fell. In other words, they argued that she should have avoided the broken pavement and not fallen.
If her fall would have happened at night and there was poor lighting, Nationwide would have likely paid us more than $30,000.
Also, Dawn did not need surgery. If she would have had a plate and screws put in her ankle, we would have likely settled for $100,000 or more with Nationwide. This is because the pain and suffering component of the case would have been much larger.
When is it easiest to show that a landowner is liable for your fall?
The easiest case is if you trip and fall on a dangerous condition that the landowner:
- Knew was there before your fall.
- Had received complaints about people tripping and falling on it before your accident
- Did nothing to fix it before your fall.
Other factors that make a case easier are if the hazard:
- Didn’t Have a Warning Sign
- Was difficult for you to see (but was big enough to be considered dangerous).
When is it hardest to show that the landowner is liable for accident?
When the hazard is so open and obvious that you should have seen it before the fall.
Trip and fall cases are also very hard if you tripped on a transitory foreign object that the landowner had no notice of before your fall.
Are you automatically entitled to money if you trip, fall and get hurt?
No. In order to make a trip and fall claim, a landowner or operator’s negligence must have caused your injury. In most cases, you also have to be an invitee on the property in order to win a trip and fall case.
When Must an Insurance Company Pay You for a Trip and Fall?
If the landowner has commercial liability insurance with medical payments (Medpay) coverage. In this circumstance, the landowner’s insurance company will pay your medical bills even if the landowner did nothing wrong.
What Types of Compensation Can you get in a Trip and fall case?
If you can show that the landowner or operator’s negligence caused you to trip, fall and get hurt, you may be able to get damages. These damages include:
- Past Lost Income
- Future lost income reduced to present value
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Replacement value of lost personal property (e.g. damage to your watch, glasses, etc.)
- Funeral expenses
- Reimbursement for mileage to and from medical appointments
- Past Pain and suffering
- Future Pain and Suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life
- Punitive Damages (in rare cases)
How does your fault affect a trip and fall case?
It depends on the state where you were injured. For example, Florida is generous (compared to some other states) to the injured person in trip and fall claims.
This fault is usually for your not paying better attention while walking.
Can you still get money even if you were 51% or more at fault for a trip and fall?
It depends on the state where you were injured. Some states have better laws for people who trip and fall.
For example, in Florida, you can still recover compensation even if you are at fault. However, your total payout will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
So if, for example, you were 60% at fault for a trip and fall in Florida, then you can still recover 40% of your damages.
In Florida, you are entitled to compensation even if you’re 51% at fault.
Some other states have laws that say that if you are 1% at fault in trip and fall, you can’t get compensation.
Can you recover your full medical billed charges in a trip and fall case?
Not in Florida. You can only recover your out of pocket medical bills and any liens. The liable party doesn’t owe you the full medical billed charges.
This is one huge difference between Florida trip and falls and some other states’ laws. It’s one reason not to use an online settlement calculator.
Will your health insurance pay your bills if you trip and fall?
Yes. Your health insurance will pay bills related to your fall. If it does, it usually has a right to get repaid. It is only entitled to get repaid if you settle your case.
The strength of your health insurer’s right to recover depends on many factors, including your employer and the policy language.
How long do you have to sue if you a trip and fall?
The time limit to sue for a trip and fall depends on the state where you were injured. It also may depend on the status of the landowner or operator.
The time limits are different for private individuals and businesses, as opposed to governmental entities.
In Florida, you have four 4 years to sue a private landowner for negligence for a trip and fall. This means that a guest will have 4 years to sue if he or she trips and falls at Walt Disney World, Publix or Walmart in Florida.
How to Estimate the Settlement Value of a Trip and Fall Case
To show how I estimate the value of a trip and fall case, I’m going to use a hypothetical fact pattern. Take a look at the photo below.
The photo shows a walkway at a condominium building. (However, my analysis is the same if the walkway was at a different type of premises. Examples of different premises are shopping centers, malls, hotels, etc.)
In the photo, the red arrow points to a change in height on this walkway. (The black line near the height change is actually a shadow.)
Assume the change in height is about 1 inch. There aren’t any warning signs. Also, I’m referring to personal injury claims (not workers’ compensation claims).
If someone trips on the change of elevation on this walkway, is this a good case? Or does the person who trips (and gets hurt) have a tough case?
A jury could put some blame on the person who trips (on that change of elevation) and falls. A jury is more likely to blame the injured person if the fall happened during daylight.
Because the change in height is easier to see during the day. This works against the injured person.
Your Case is Easier if You Trip and Fall at Night
On the other hand, if someone tripped on this at night, the condo’s insurance company would likely assign less fault on the injured person. This is good for the injured person’s case. This is because it is likely harder to see this change of elevation at night.
Also, if the person had previously walked over that “step”, a jury could place fault in him/her. This is because the condominium will argue that, before the trip and fall, the person should’ve known that the hazard existed.
On the other hand, if the person was walking over the change in elevation for the first time, he or she has a better case. In this instance the condo’s insurance company will likely reduce the full value of the case less for the injured person’s fault.
The liability aspect of this case (in the photo) is pretty good. This is, in part, because the change in elevation is the same color as the adjacent flooring. Thus, it is harder for someone (who is walking) to see the hazard.
Now, in order for the injured person to have a “good case”, he or she needs to be seriously injured. At least what I consider to be a “good case”. The bigger the injury, the better the case.
What do I consider “big injuries”?
An arm fracture, hip fracture, broken leg, brain hemorrhage are big injuries. Those are just a few types of big injuries. And surgery on those injuries increases the full value of the case for settlement purposes.
Do you have any comments or questions about this hypothetical case? Let me know in the comments below.
Who is the Best Florida trip and fall lawyer?
Florida lawyers are not ethically allowed to say that they are the “best”. So a lawyer can’t claim to be the best Miami trip and fall lawyer or the best Florida trip and fall attorney.
However, you should look for an attorney who has handled many trip and fall cases over a period of many years.
Ask the lawyer to tell you about past trip and fall settlements that he or she has had. I’m happy to say that I’ve settled many trip and fall claims.
More Trip and Fall Settlement (and Claim) Info
- Some of our Florida Trip and Fall Settlements.
- 18,000 Settlement for Cut to Face from Trip and Fall Accident
- Do You Have a Case if You Trip and Fall on a Box in a Store?
- Settlement for Lady Who Fractured Hip from Trip and Fall on Curb in Apartment Building in Miami Beach
- Trip and fall claims against Florida stores
- Publix trip and fall claims in Florida
- Walmart trip and fall claims in Florida
- Condominium and apartment trip and fall claims in Florida
- Trip and Fall on Buckled Carpet at Florida Condo Claims
- Wheel Stop Trip and Fall Injury and Accident Claims in Florida
- Shopper Sues Winn Dixie for Trip and Fall on Hole on Handicap Access Ramp
- Trip on a “Humped” Mat and Fall Injury Claims in Florida
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