If you slipped and fell in a Wal-Mart store and are considering filing an insurance claim or lawsuit, one major consideration is the amount of compensation you might receive. How can you determine what your case may be worth?
It is hard to predict what you can expect to receive in a settlement or after a jury verdict. Too much depends on the specific facts in each case. But there are a few things to consider when it comes to recovering damages after a Wal-Mart slip and fall, and we'll discuss them in this article.
Medical Damages. The primary component of compensation in a claim against Wal-Mart is usually your medical expenses. In any insurance claim or lawsuit, you must have suffered an injury that was caused by Wal-Mart's negligence. Perhaps something spilled in an aisle and the floor was not cleaned up as quickly as it should have been. Or maybe merchandise fell from a shelf and its unexpected presence on the floor caused you to fall.
Back injuries, of course, are some of the most common problems that result from falling. But there are also other problems that slip and fall victims often suffer, including broken bones, sprains, and head injuries. Hopefully you have received the medical care you need. You will need to get copies of all of your medical bills, regardless of what your insurance company may have paid to your providers.
You will also need to talk with your doctor to discuss what additional treatment you may require in the future. Because there is a time limit after which you cannot bring a claim for your injury (this is called a "statute of limitations"), your lawyer may have to file a lawsuit before you have finished your treatment. So, it is important to keep track of your bills as you incur them, and to estimate what your future care may cost.
Damages for Lost Income. The other major component of your actual damages is lost income. If you missed time from work as a result of your injury, whether it was time off because you could not work, or because you had to attend medical appointments, you can recover compensation for any time you missed at work This is true even if you used sick time, vacation or other accrued paid time off (PTO). Of course, you'll need to provide records that demonstrates the time you missed, and your standard wages.
Medical bills and lost earnings are not the only components of a potential recovery against Wal-Mart. You can also seek to recover damages for your pain and suffering. These damages may be harder to quantify, but your lawyer will ask an the insurance adjuster or a jury to do just that. It is hard to put a price on pain and discomfort, stress and anxiety, the inability to travel or participate in your favorite hobbies or pastimes, not being able to do basic household tasks, and other negative effects of your injuries. But these are all important components of your slip and fall claim against Wal-Mart.
Finally, you can seek to recover any future losses you may have, whether that is future medical expenses, as discussed above, or future lost earnings.
In the most severe cases, a plaintiff may not be able to work again, which can be a devastating financial loss. For example, in November 2011, a jury in Colorado awarded a Wal-Mart slip and fall plaintiff $15 million dollars when her fall caused her to become disabled and lose her job as a truck driver.
You should know that Wal-Mart cases vary dramatically in their viability and value, and that the Colorado case is on the very high end of the spectrum, but it is an example of the lifelong consequences that serious injuries can have.