Top 5 Slip and Fall Settlements and Verdicts
The media likes to pick up stories about huge slip and fall injury payouts. They seem outrageous at times, but juries do not just pull numbers out of a hat. If the attorneys have done their job properly, they have introduced all the evidence necessary to help a jury reach those verdict amounts. The verdicts awarded are considered to be a fair compensation given the injury and the effect it will have on the injured person’s life.
Compensation can include such elements as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress, such as depression and anxiety
- Loss of Companionship
- Past and future medical costs
- Future permanent physical disability, such as a limp or scars
- Caregiver costs
- Loss of salary from being unable to work
1) Student Paralyzed in an Apartment Fall Receives $11.6 Million
In 2010, a University of Pennsylvania student, Lorna Bernhoft, fell through a raised skylight opening on the fourth floor of an off-campus residence while a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Bernhoft’s lawsuit named as defendants the building’s owner and student tenants who were aware of the opening. The skylight opening was covered only by flex board and carpet and posed a hidden defect and danger at the rental housing. The fall left her paralyzed, and she reached an out-of-court settlement with the building’s owners.
2) $10 Million Awarded To Truck Driver In Colorado
In 2011, Wal-Mart paid 41-year-old Holly Averyt, a truck driver who suffered severe injuries when she slipped and fell on ice and grease while making a delivery to a Wal-Mart retail store. Wal-Mart appealed the initial verdict, denying that it was responsible for the truck driver’s injury, but the appellate court affirmed the verdict. Lawyers presented city documents during the original trial that showed that grease from the store’s deli didn’t get trapped in a device designed to keep it from getting into the sewer. Jurors originally awarded $15 million in the original trial, but the amount was reduced due to maximum allowed to be awarded in the state.
3) $7.5 Million Awarded in a Slip And Fall Accident in Alabama
Another case in a Wal-Mart lawsuit, Henry Walker was severely injured while trying to obtain a watermelon from a display. His foot became caught in a hidden pallet underneath the display. Walker’s attorney argued that Wal-Mart did not exercise reasonable care, to maintain and keep its premises in a reasonable safe condition. Attorneys also argued that there was a duty to warn the public of unsafe and hazardous conditions. The jury agreed. The injury caused Mr. Walker’s hip to shatter and he went from playing basketball a few times a week with his friends to needing a walker to get around. Walker was awarded $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, totaling a payout of $7.5 million. Video evidence showed that numerous others had had their feet entangled in a dangerous pallet that was part of the display.
4) $18 Million Awarded to a Medical Student In Pennsylvania
A Philadelphia medical student, Marcus Gustafsson, who suffered a broken back in 2004 was awarded over $18 million (four years after the accident) after he fell over 20 feet through an uncovered manhole. The victim’s legal team was able to prove that the utility company Trigen-Philadephia Corporation was aware that some manholes were left uncovered and did not attempt to remedy the problem. This individual was able to collect such a large settlement due to his injury, suffering, and lost wages as a medical doctor. Although the jury returned an astounding $85-million dollar verdict against Trigen, both parties agreed on a “high-low,” which means that the parties agree on a range for the jury verdict. The parties had set a 18-million dollar cap.
5) $2.25 Million Dollar Verdict for New Jersey Slip and Fall on Black Ice of Parking Lot
A New Jersey woman working as a mail sorter for DHL slip and fell on black ice in the parking lot on her way into her employer’s business. Her injuries included a tear in the medial meniscus in her left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery to repair. She also suffered bulging discs in her spine, with bilateral lumbar radiculopathy. The victim filed the lawsuit against the property owner and the company who was responsible for snow and ice removal. The jury awarded $2.25 million.
Reasons Why a Large Slip and Fall Verdict is Awarded or Settlement Reached
As you can see from the above examples, three of them in our practice area of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the juries found that the defendants were negligent in their maintenance duties. However the biggest factor determining a large slip and fall settlement or verdict is the severity of the sustained injury.
The victims of the slip and fall accidents required major changes to their lifestyle, both personally and professionally and will need to deal with expensive ongoing medical costs.
Although media attention would have you believe that large slip and fall compensation is commonplace, it is actually uncommon to see such awards especially with inexperienced lawyers who do not work up the case to allow for a large settlement or jury verdict.
Our firm is known for its tough negotiations, and we will take a case to trial if we cannot settle for proper compensation. We encourage you however, if you have been injured due to slipping and falling, and think you have a case of negligence, contact a slip and fall attorney in our office so that we can review your accident.