Slip and fall accidents are responsible for approximately 27 percent of all spinal cord injuries. The financial settlement numbers for a severe spine injury can be extensive. Long-term care for these types of injuries can cost millions of dollars, and many victims are also awarded pain and suffering money for their injuries. The way a spinal cord injury settlement is calculated can be complicated, but it helps if victims know what they can expect from their case.
Contributory Versus Comparative Negligence
In spinal cord cases, you could be subjected to contributory or comparative negligence. With contributory negligence, you are not awarded any compensation if it is determined that you had anything to do with your accident. For example, if you fell down a flight of stairs in need of repair, but you were drunk at the time.
Comparative negligence finds a balance between the blame assumed by the victim, and the blame assigned to the other party. The state of New York is a comparative negligence state, which means that all injury cases are looked at from both sides and the percentage of compensation paid to a victim depends on how much responsibility the other party is assigned. For example, if it is determined that the victim was 30 percent responsible for what happened, then the victim would get 70 percent of the final award.
Special Damages & General Damages
Special damages represent all of the real financial losses the victim has currently incurred as a result of the slip and fall accident, and all of the losses that will occur in the future. This would include lost income, current medical costs, and potential future medical costs. The process for determining future lost wages is rather complex, but it is designed to help the victim support their family in the event that they are unable to go back to work.
General damages fall under three categories:
- Pain and Suffering – In most cases, the courts will assign a multiplier of anywhere from 1.5 to 10 to the special damages to determine the value of general damages. The multiplier depends on the severity of the injuries.
- Emotional Distress – In some states, emotional distress is separated from pain and suffering and assigned a different compensation amount.
- Loss of Consortium – If the injuries sustained do not allow the victim to resume normal relationships with their family members, then there could be compensation for loss of consortium. This would include things such as the in ability to care for small children, or the inability to enter into normal sexual relations with a spouse.
Contrary to popular belief, punitive damages are not automatically awarded in a spine injury case. In order for punitive damages to be awarded, it has to be proven that the victim’s fall was purposely and maliciously caused by the defendant. If this is found to be the case, then punitive damages would be awarded separately from other financial settlement amounts.
There is a lot that goes into determining the value of a spine injury lawsuit. It is critically important that every victim has an experienced attorney on their side to help navigate these difficult proceedings.