The typical slip-and-fall settlement in St. Louis and Kansas City can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands, even into the millions, depending on the severity, financial impact, and long-term consequences of the injuries.
According to Injury Facts, fall injuries cause 21 percent of preventable injury-related deaths in the United States — the same percentage as motor vehicle accidents. Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal preventable injuries at 33 percent.
Property owners in Missouri owe guests a duty to maintain a hazard-free environment. When someone slips and falls at a business, someone at the company has failed to do their job. The slip-and-fall attorneys at Brown & Crouppen help clients hold businesses accountable when their negligence leads to injuries from falls.
SLIP-AND-FALL RISKS FOR OLDER ADULTS
Older adults face the highest risks of falling and are also more prone to injury when they do fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that approximately 3 million older adults in the United States are treated for falls every year, and 800,000 are hospitalized.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, falls are the leading cause of death in individuals 65 and older. According to the data, 27.3 percent of older adults in Missouri experienced a fall in 2018.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows that adults 65 and older comprise 13.7 percent of the St. Louis population and 13.3 percent in Kansas City. This population is entitled to visit public places free of fall hazards.
Falling is not a normal part of aging. Falls are almost always preventable, and premises owners who fail to exercise reasonable care are liable for falls, regardless of the victim’s age.
SLIP-AND-FALL INJURIES IN THE ELDERLY
Fall injuries in older adults can lead to permanent disability. Common injuries from falls include the following:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Organ damage
- Emotional distress
According to the CDC, one in five falls in older adults leads to broken bones or a head injury. Most hospitalizations are related to a head injury or a hip fracture.
Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in elderly adults. According to UCLA Health, 80 percent of TBI-related emergency visits, hospitalizations, and deaths are related to falls. Falling once after the age of 65 doubles the chance of falling again.
HOW IS A SLIP-AND-FALL SETTLEMENT CALCULATED?
Calculating a slip and fall settlement requires taking the following factors into account:
- The lifelong impact of the fall injuries
- The available insurance coverage and assets of the defendant
- The defendant’s conduct leading up to and surrounding the fall
- Whether the fall victim shares fault for the fall
The damages that may be available after a fall include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
MEDICAL EXPENSES FOLLOWING A FALL
Your settlement will include the following medical expenses to the extent they can be verified:
- Doctor bills
- Domestic services
Projected ongoing costs stemming from your injuries will also be considered when negotiating a settlement.
HOW MUCH IS A SLIP-AND-FALL INJURY THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE SURGERY WORTH?
Settlements for slip-and-fall injuries that require surgery are not automatically higher than those for injuries without surgery. The cost of surgery is calculated as part of your medical expenses. The court will also consider any long-term effects and associated pain and suffering from your slip and fall accident.
CALCULATING LOST WAGES
Lost wages include the income forfeited due to being out of work during recovery and the disability itself — even if it is permanent.
WHAT COUNTS AS NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES?
Non-economic damages are the effects the injury has on your quality of life and life activities, which may be short-term, long-term, or permanent. Examples of non-economic damages include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The value of non-economic damages is subjective and is, therefore, more challenging to negotiate. The defendant may attempt to downplay the impact of your injuries to minimize compensation.
As a rule, injuries with the most significant and prolonged effects on your quality of life will result in the highest damage awards.
For example, the following effects can be expected to yield higher damage awards:
- Loss of an active lifestyle
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent cognitive impairment
- Permanent confinement to a wheelchair
- Permanent chronic pain
CAN I CLAIM PUNITIVE DAMAGES?
Punitive damages are awarded only in extreme circumstances when clear and convincing evidence proves that the defendant intentionally caused harm or through a flagrant disregard for safety.
Punitive damages are typically awarded in court, not as part of a settlement. However, if punitive damages would be recoverable through a trial, this can influence settlement negotiations.
IS THERE A LIMIT ON THE DAMAGES I CAN RECOVER?
Unlike many states, Missouri does not limit the damages you can recover in most slip-and-fall cases.
If you fall on public property, the liable party may be a public entity, such as the city of St. Louis or Kansas City. In these cases, the Missouri Department of Insurance sets the limit in compliance with state statutes. The 2022 limit for a single person is $459,893.
ARE SLIP-AND-FALL CASES HARD TO WIN?
Like many personal injury cases, slip-and-fall cases are typically tried against insurance companies. Insurance carriers are large companies that hire expensive counsel with the sole purpose of minimizing or eliminating compensation.
Going against these companies without qualified legal counsel places you at a distinct disadvantage. However, a competent slip-and-fall lawyer can match the skills and experience of the insurance company’s lawyers and level the playing field for deserving clients who want only to be made whole for their injuries.
WHAT HAS TO BE PROVEN IN A SLIP-AND-FALL CASE?
Falling on a business-owned property does not automatically result in liability for the owner. Premises owners are liable for fall injuries only if you can prove that your fall happened as a result of negligence. Negligence is the failure to practice reasonable care to prevent falls.
To prove negligence, you must show the following:
- The defendant owed a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The breach caused an injury that would not otherwise have occurred.
- The breach was the sole cause of the injury.
CAN I RECOVER COMPENSATION IF I AM PARTLY AT FAULT?
Defendants often blame the victim or the victim’s health for the fall. Our Kansas City and St. Louis legal teams will perform a detailed analysis of your fall so we can effectively refute these claims.
Missouri is a pure comparative fault state, which means that if you are found at fault for the fall, you can still recover compensation as long as the property owner is also partly at fault.
WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES DO PREMISES OWNERS HAVE?
Premises owners who fail to remove and prevent fall hazards are liable when these hazards cause falls that result in injury.
MAINTAIN PARKING LOTS AND SIDEWALKS
Slip-and-fall settlements are often a result of falls that occur in parking lots and on sidewalks due to the following:
- Poor lighting
- Poorly marked or damaged wheel stops
- Uneven pavement
Parking lots and sidewalks are made of natural elements that wear down over time due to vehicle traffic and foot traffic. Property owners owe a duty to the public to regularly inspect these areas and provide maintenance as needed to ensure the public has a safe walking area.
Winter weather is a significant fall hazard, especially for the elderly. According to the Almanac, Kansas City’s average first date of frost is October 29, and the last average frost date is April 10. In St. Louis, these dates are April 12 and October 22, respectively.
Winter precipitation can occur any time between these dates and can be worse when the weather warms above freezing during the day, as wet areas form black ice when they refreeze at night. Property owners are obligated to remove snow and ice hazards promptly when these conditions occur.
ENSURE THE SAFETY OF ENTRANCES AND EXITS
Failure to properly maintain doorways can lead to the following hazards:
- Doormats that do not lay flat
- Door issues
- Poorly maintained transitional floor strips
- Wearing down of surfaces due to heavy foot traffic
MAINTAIN SAFE FLOOR SURFACES
Property owners may be liable for falls that occur because of the following hazards:
- Wet floors without warnings when mopping
- Tracked in moisture
- Wet floors in the restrooms
- Cords, debris, and other trip hazards
MAINTAIN SAFE STEPS AND STAIRWAYS
Property owners must ensure stairs are kept in excellent condition to prevent falls from the following:
- Broken or missing handrails
- Broken, missing, or uneven steps
- Poor lighting
- Spills or tracked in moisture
WHO IS LIABLE FOR MY SLIP-AND-FALL INJURIES?
While the property owner is typically the liable party, in some cases, you may be able to also hold other negligent parties liable for your slip-and-fall injuries. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Building contractors
- Installation and repair technicians
CAN I SUE A HOMEOWNER FOR A FALL?
Homeowners have the same responsibilities towards guests as other property owners. If you fall on the property of a private homeowner due to the homeowner’s negligence, compensation will most likely come from the homeowner’s insurance policy, whether the fall occurs indoors or outdoors.
St. Louis and Kansas City have enacted ordinances requiring homeowners to promptly remove snow from public sidewalks on their properties. Failure to do so can result in the homeowner’s liability for any injuries.
HOW LONG AFTER AN ACCIDENT CAN YOU SUE?
The Missouri statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is generally five years after the injury. However, our slip-and-fall attorneys can advise you of any specific deadlines that apply to your case. Regardless of the statute of limitations, it is strongly recommended that you contact a slip-and-fall attorney immediately to allow time to prepare the most robust case possible.
WHAT IS THE SLIP-AND-FALL SETTLEMENT PROCESS?
Settling a slip-and-fall lawsuit requires an analysis of the incident, the damages, and the policy limits. After considering all relevant factors, our attorneys will send a demand letter to the insurance company.
The insurance company may accept, counter, or refuse the offer. At this point, negotiations begin. Our attorneys will skillfully negotiate for a generous settlement. If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, the case may have to be decided in court.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY CONTACTS ME?
Always direct the insurance company to your attorney without comment. Anything you say to the insurance company may be used against you during negotiations.
START WORKING TOWARD YOUR SLIP-AND-FALL SETTLEMENT TODAY
The attorneys at Brown & Crouppen have been helping injured individuals in St. Louis and Kansas City since 1979, and we have since grown into one of the largest law firms in the Midwest with a team of more than 250 legal professionals. Our award-winning attorneys have won more than $1 billion on behalf of our clients.
If you fell and sustained an injury on someone’s property, the personal injury attorneys at Brown & Crouppen can negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
Contact us today to get started.