How Much Is the Average Slip and Fall Settlement in Pennsylvania?

Slip and Fall Settlement in Pennsylvania

Every year approximately one million Americans suffer from injuries related to a fall, and over 30,000 die of their wounds. Slip and fall accidents frequently kill elderly or otherwise frail people. Also, many workers die in construction site falls and falls from other employment-related disasters. These cases often give rise to wrongful death claims, where million-plus dollar settlements are frequent.

Others survive but suffer severe injuries requiring extensive medical care, multiple surgeries, and long hospital and rehabilitation facility stays. Lost income usually results from a prolonged convalescence, adding to the damages victims suffer.

On the other side of the coin, some slip-and-fall accidents cause much less debilitating injuries. The person may still be able to participate in most life activities, such as working and family living. However, the injury can result in serious pain, require costly medical care, and restrict the sufferer from engaging in many physical activities, harming his or her health and reducing the enjoyment of life.  

As you can imagine, the average settlement for slip and fall cases varies widely based on the severity of the injury, the treatment costs, and the overarching impact on a person’s life. The typical settlement in Pennsylvania ranges from $15,000 to $45,000. 

This average range is somewhat deceptive because most slip and fall cases result in moderate-level trauma that is cured through routine medical treatment and the passage of time. However, some slip and fall cases are worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, though they are the minority. 

They are worth so much because the victim endures severe disability, such as paralysis; extreme pain, such as from a shattered knee; or dies from the fall, leaving behind grief-stricken loved ones whose lives will never be the same.


What Constitutes a Slip and Fall Personal Injury Case in Pennsylvania?

Not every injury sustained in a fall qualifies for compensation under Pennsylvania law. To win a personal injury suit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant(s) acted negligently. If the fall occurred because of the plaintiff’s own actions, a lawsuit is unlikely to succeed.

For example, slip and fall injuries often happen in stores, such as supermarkets and big box retailers. The store has a legal duty to protect its customers, employees, and vendors from hazards that could cause them to slip and fall. 

A personal injury plaintiff must demonstrate that the store was negligent in carrying out this duty and that negligence resulted in the accident. Additionally, the plaintiff must show evidence that the injury resulted from the fall, such as medical records.

If the plaintiff slipped and fell on a wet floor and was given no warning of the hazard, the store likely has legal culpability for any resulting injury. The company failed to keep aisles clear of danger, so it was negligent in its duty of care toward the plaintiff.

On the other hand, what if the plaintiff tripped over his own feet? 

In that case, the plaintiff is harder pressed to show negligence on the part of the store. A link between the store’s negligence and the fall must be established. If some action by the store contributed to the fall, such as a box left unattended, the store may have full or partial responsibility for the injury.


Comparative Negligence

How much a settlement will yield depends greatly on the comparative negligence of the plaintiff and the defendant(s). Pennsylvania law establishes a modified comparative negligence standard in personal injury cases. Under the 51% bar rule, a plaintiff is eligible for an award only if her comparative negligence is less than 51%.

For example, in the case where a customer slipped on water left on a store floor without warning signs has a strong case under Pennsylvania personal injury law. The defense may try to make it appear that the accident was, to some degree, the plaintiff’s fault. However, the jury is likely to find the store 100% responsible or responsible under comparative negligence by a large margin, resulting in an award to the plaintiff.

But what if the plaintiff tripped over his own feet? Unless the plaintiff establishes the store was somehow negligent, such a case may be dismissed.

Other scenarios fall into a grayer area. For instance, imagine a person slipped on water at a store, but another customer warned the plaintiff that there was standing water. This is unlikely to be a sufficient defense for the store because it still neglected its duty of care.

However, defense attorneys could argue that the claimant had some responsibility under comparative negligence. If the jury agrees, it can reduce the plaintiff’s award.


a slip and fall lawsuit involving the property owner and insurance company for a slip and fall accident

How Awards Are Impacted By Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence establishes a theoretical maximum award for the plaintiff. This theoretical maximum is the sum of all the damages claimed by the plaintiff. The number is theoretical because the jury does not have to agree that all the damages claimed are eligible for compensation. 

However, by putting the jury’s acceptance of the full damages claimed aside for now, we can better understand the role of comparative negligence in determining an award.

Imagine that a slip and fall happened and plaintiff claims $100,000 in damages. If the jury finds the defendant 100% liable (no spot on the plaintiff), he or she receives 100% of the damages.

Defense attorneys work hard to transfer as much blame onto the plaintiff as possible because every 1% of comparative negligence that lands on the plaintiff reduces the insurance company’s payout by 1%.

In the example where the plaintiff slipped despite being warned of the water by another customer, a jury could decide to reduce the plaintiff’s award by its judgment of the level of fault attached to the plaintiff’s actions.

The impact of a split negligence verdict on a case with $100,000 in damages is as follows:

  • $90,000 if the plaintiff is 10% at fault

  • $80,000 if the plaintiff is 20% at fault

  • $70,000 if the plaintiff is 30% at fault

  • $60,000 if the plaintiff is 40% at fault

  • $50,000 if the plaintiff is 50% at fault

  • $0 if the plaintiff is 51% or more at fault


How Are Damages Determined

Before filing a personal injury claim, your attorney will estimate the potential damages. Since the total impact on the plaintiff may not be known at this early stage, the amount is often revised to a higher figure. 

For example, suppose a doctor later determines a second surgery is necessary. In that case, the costs of the additional operation, the pain and suffering it causes, and the impact of lost income while reasonable person is recuperating need to be added to the damages.

During the discovery process, your attorney will continue investigating the claim and building its case, including adding to your damages when necessary. Before the case settles or goes to trial, your lawyer will have a complete tally that includes economic damages, general damages, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages Include the Following::

  • Ambulance bills

  • Emergency room treatment

  • Intensive care

  • Surgeries

  • Medications

  • Physical therapy

  • Occupational therapy

  • Property Damage

  • Lost wages

  • Lost salary

  • Lost business income

  • Lost benefits

General Damages Include the Following:

  • Pain and suffering

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Emotional distress

  • Loss of consortium

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are rare in slip and fall cases and personal injury law in general. Most accidents are just that, accidents. The defendant, though negligent, did not intend to harm the plaintiff. As a result, punitive damages are not applicable.

But what if the defendant is a bad actor? For example, if the fall resulted from a criminal act, such as shoving the victim, punitive damages may be in order.


The Difference Between Settlements and Verdicts

Most slip and fall injury cases settle out of court. When this occurs, the plaintiff and defendant(s) agree on a figure. Negotiations can occur via telephone, email, and face-to-face settlement conferences. Both sides can propose a settlement, and there is no obligation for plaintiffs to accept settlements nor for defendants to offer them and vice versa.

Alternatively, the case goes to trial, resulting in a jury verdict. When juries decide cases, they must determine the role played by each litigant in the accident’s cause and assign a percentage of responsibility based on comparative negligence. If the plaintiff contributed to the accident, the jury reduces its verdict by the percentage of fault it believes the plaintiff bears.

insurance company settlement for medical expenses tied to prove negligence to the property owner

Why Most Cases Settle

Litigation is a big expense for insurance companies. They must consider the costs of conducting a trial versus settling. Often, the legal fees alone outweigh the settlement. As a direct result of, insurers have the inclination to settle cases.

However, they want to settle as cheaply as possible. To accomplish this, they must establish a strong negotiating position. 

Establishing a strong negotiating position requires building evidence in support of your case. Lawyers construct their cases with the evidence they uncover in the discovery process. 

During discovery, lawyers find out what evidence the opposing side has and have the opportunity to gather additional evidence that bolsters their cases. In addition, they interview opposing witnesses, a process that can help weaken the other side’s arguments.

Many cases settle during the discovery process. However, sometimes the sides remain far apart on comparative negligence or the proper amount of damages. When they reach an impasse, judges often require the lawyers and litigants to attend a settlement conference. 

These are often marathon negotiation sessions organized by the judge. Settlement conferences frequently result in a favorable settlement for the plaintiff.

Slip and Fall Settlements in Pennsylvania average between $15,000 and $45,000 in Pennsylvania. However, awards can be substantially higher when the injuries are serious, or the plaintiff dies because of the accident. No accident victim should suffer pain, lose income, and face ruinous medical bills because of someone else’s negligence. Pennsylvania personal injury lawsuits give slip and fall victims the chance for the compensation they deserve.


Detailed Exploration of Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents, a common cause of injury in Pennsylvania, can lead to a range of physical injuries from minor bruises to more severe outcomes like broken bones and traumatic brain injuries. The severity of these injuries often influences the average slip and fall settlement in Pennsylvania. For instance, a fall accident resulting in chronic pain or permanent disability can significantly increase the average settlement amount due to the long-term impact on the victim’s life.

Common causes of these accidents include poor lighting, wet floors without proper signage, uneven surfaces, and other hazardous conditions on someone else’s property. Property owners have a duty to ensure their premises are safe for visitors. When they breach this duty, resulting in an accident, they can be held liable in a slip and fall lawsuit.


Understanding Pennsylvania’s Legal Framework

In Pennsylvania law, proving negligence in a slip and fall case hinges on demonstrating that the property owner failed to maintain a safe environment or did not warn of dangerous conditions. For a personal injury claim to be successful, the plaintiff must show that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard and did not take appropriate action to remedy it.

This legal framework underscores the importance of collecting comprehensive evidence, including photographs of the accident scene, medical records detailing the fall injuries, and witness statements. These pieces of evidence are crucial in establishing the property owner’s liability.


A property owners negligence in a slip and fall case

The Financial Aspects of Slip and Fall Cases

The financial implications of a slip and fall accident are often substantial. Victims may face significant medical bills for treatments such as emergency room visits, surgeries, physical therapy, and ongoing medical care for more severe injuries. In addition to medical expenses, many slip and fall lawsuit victims lose income due to being unable to work during their recovery. These economic damages are typically central to determining the average slip and fall settlement in Pennsylvania.

Non-economic damages, such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life, also play a critical role in settlement negotiations. While these are more challenging to quantify, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help victims recover fair compensation that reflects the full extent of their suffering and loss.

Insurance companies often play a significant role in slip and fall settlements. The property or business owner who’s liability insurance may cover some or all of the damages, depending on the policy limits. However, insurance adjusters typically aim to minimize the insurer’s payout, highlighting the importance of effective settlement negotiations led by an experienced lawyer.


Comparative Negligence and Its Impact on Settlements

Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law affects how settlements are calculated in slip and fall cases. If the victim is found partially responsible for the accident, the settlement amount can be reduced proportionally. For example, if a jury determines that a victim’s actions contributed 20% to the slip and fall accident, the compensation awarded would be reduced by that percentage. Understanding and effectively arguing comparative negligence is vital for maximizing the compensation recovered.


Case Studies Illustrating Comparative Negligence

Consider a typical slip and fall claim where the accident occurred due to a wet floor in a supermarket. If there was no wet floor sign, the store is likely at fault. However, if evidence shows the victim was running or not paying attention, the store might argue that the victim’s negligence contributed to the accident.

In another scenario, if a tenant falls due to a broken stair in an apartment building and it can be shown that the landlord was aware of the issue but failed to repair it, the landlord would likely be found negligent. Yet, if the tenant was carrying a large item that obstructed their view of the stair, this could be considered comparative negligence, potentially reducing their settlement amount.


Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case

In any personal injury claim, including slip and fall cases, the crux of the matter often lies in proving negligence. Under Pennsylvania law, this means establishing that the defendant breached property owner or liable party failed to maintain a safe environment or did not address a known dangerous condition, directly leading to the accident and subsequent injuries.

Critical to this process are medical records, which serve as tangible proof of the injuries sustained from the fall accident. These documents not only detail the nature and extent of the physical injuries but also outline the medical expenses incurred, from emergency room treatment and surgeries to long-term therapies like physical therapy. The presence of a wet floor sign (or lack thereof), poor lighting, or any other condition that contributed to the fall must be thoroughly documented to strengthen the fall claim.

the average slip and fall settlement in Pennsylvania

The Role of Insurance Companies in Settlement Negotiations

Insurance companies are pivotal players in fall settlements. They assess the personal injury case, examining the extent of the property damage, the severity of the fall injuries, and any contributing factors like poor lighting or a lack of warning signs. The goal of the insurance company and adjusters is to limit the insurance company’s financial exposure, often leading to initial settlement offers that may not fully cover the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and other related costs.

An experienced personal injury lawyer is instrumental in dealing with insurance adjusters, ensuring that the victim’s rights are protected and that the settlement negotiations reflect the true value of the claim. These negotiations consider the policy limits of the liable party’s liability insurance, aiming to secure a settlement that covers all economic damages and adequately compensates for non-economic damages like emotional distress and pain and suffering.


Economic and Non-Economic Damages in Slip and Fall Settlements

Slip and fall settlements encompass a range of damages. Economic damages are quantifiable costs associated with the accident, such as ambulance bills, emergency room treatment, physical therapy sessions, and lost wages from time away from work. These are typically easier to calculate and prove, given their direct financial nature.

Non-economic damages, however, such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering, present more of a challenge. These damages account for the more subjective, non-financial impacts of the fall injuries. Despite their intangible nature, they are crucial components of a comprehensive settlement. Experienced lawyers play a vital role in quantifying these damages, often leveraging their expertise and understanding of Pennsylvania slip and fall cases to advocate for fair compensation.


Comparative Negligence and Its Effect on Slip and Fall Claims

The concept of comparative negligence is pivotal in Pennsylvania slip and fall lawsuits. This legal principle considers the possibility that the fall victim may share some responsibility for the accident. For instance, if the victim’s lack of attention contributed to their fall, a percentage of fault might be assigned to them, reducing their potential settlement proportionately.

A detailed understanding of comparative negligence is essential for anyone involved in a slip and fall claim. It influences the settlement negotiations and can significantly affect the final award. Legal representatives must meticulously present evidence to minimize the victim’s perceived fault, ensuring the maximum possible compensation is achieved.


The Importance of an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Throughout the complexities of a slip and fall case—from documenting the dangerous condition that led to the accident, to dealing with insurance companies and property owners, to understanding the nuances of Pennsylvania law—an experienced personal injury lawyer is an invaluable asset. These professionals not only guide fall victims through the legal claim process but also work diligently to prove negligence, accurately assess all damages, and negotiate effectively with insurance adjusters.

Experienced lawyers understand the many factors that can influence the outcome of a fall claim, including the specifics of the accident occurred, the severity of injuries impact by the fall injury, and the unique circumstances of each case. They are adept at handling the multifaceted aspects of personal injury cases, ensuring that victims receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries, medical expenses, and any other economic or non-economic damages resulting from someone else’s negligence.

By leveraging their knowledge and skills, personal injury lawyers help victims of slip and fall accidents in Pennsylvania recover the compensation needed to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other related costs, while also addressing the emotional and physical impacts of their injuries. Their expertise is critical in navigating the complexities of slip and fall injury claims, from the initial demand letter through settlement negotiations, and, if necessary, litigation to ensure justice is served.


a fall accident claim filed with the insurance company


FAQs About Slip and Fall Settlements in Pennsylvania

How long does it take to settle a slip and fall case in PA?

The timeline for settling a slip and fall case in Pennsylvania varies widely based on many factors, including the complexity of the case, the severity of the injuries, and the willingness of the insurance company to reach a fair settlement. On average, a slip and fall lawsuit can take anywhere from a few months to several years to resolve fully. The process involves gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance adjusters, and possibly going to trial if a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached through negotiations.

How much do lawyers take from a settlement in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they receive a percentage of the final settlement or verdict awarded to their client. This percentage varies but generally ranges from 25% to 40%, depending on the agreement between the lawyer and their client. It’s important to discuss and understand these fees upfront, as they will affect the net amount the victim receives from the slip and fall settlement.

What is the highest paid slip and fall settlement?

The highest paid slip and fall settlements often involve cases with severe or catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, permanent disability, or death. While specific figures for the highest settlements are not publicly available due to confidentiality agreements, it is known that such cases can settle for millions of dollars, reflecting the significant impact on the victim’s life and the level of negligence involved.

How long does a personal injury lawsuit take in Pennsylvania?

Similar to slip and fall cases, the duration of a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania can vary widely. The timeline is influenced by the case’s complexity, the amount of evidence, the legal process’s efficiency, and the parties’ negotiation willingness. Generally, a personal injury lawsuit may take anywhere from several months to a few years to conclude.

What is the statute of limitations on a slip and fall in PA?

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall claim is two years from the date the accident occurred. This means fall victims have a two-year window to initiate a legal claim against the property owner or liable party. Failing to file within this timeframe typically results in losing the right to seek compensation for injuries and related costs stemming from the fall accident.


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