I sustained severe soft tissue damage to my right hand on 10/5/12 after tripping over a step at home. Xrays showed no broken bones, but the pain, swelling, & weakness persisted for months. Saw my primary care P.A. 1/28/13 at 11am to resolve this & she referred me to P.T. Went to Home Depot immediately after and slipped in a puddle around the floor drain. Fell backwards, instinctively extending my right hand back to brace for the impact, and landed directly on the injured portion of my hand. Swelling had visibly increased by the time the manager showed up to take a report. H.D legal contacted me a few days ago to negotiate a settlement. I'm not looking for a large sum, but my insurance only covers 10 PT visits/year. What's fair compensation in this case?
Good question. I don't really believe anyone can answer without learning some other facts. In any slip and fall, the victim must prove two things: the condition was dangerous (which it sounds like you can show) and the victim must prove that defendant (HD) knew or should have known of the condition. After that, the question becomes what is the extent of the injuries, what is your prior medical condition, what is the doctor's diagnosis and prognosis. Will you need future care and the cost of the care.
Since you have an injury I recommend that you hire a lawyer in your local area. Most studies show that you will do better by hiring a lawyer vs. trying to handle the matter on your own. Good luck.
These are difficult cases and the fact that you had a pre-existing injury complicates it a bit more. Home Depot (assuming they are accepting liability) would not be responsible for the pre-existing injury but, they would be responsible for any exacerbation to that injury. This would include any additional medical treatment and pain and suffering damages associated with that additional treatment. As to the value to place on this: You would need to have an attorney review the medical records and bills from both incidents and determine that amount.
You say you tripped over a stair at home & then refrence HD Legal. Did this fall happen at Home Depot or at "home"? I'm assuming Home Depot.
First, have your injuries from the fall resolved? If not, you probably do not want to settle the liability side just yet.
Second, HD MAY have medical payments coverage, which pays for medical expenses reasonable and necessary for your injuries.
There are serval factors to consider in your situation:
Dx of injuries
Time lost from work (wage loss)
Loss of earning capacity (jobs you couldn’t take as a result of the fall)
and also “pain and suffering” - general damages.
The other factor is how strong the liability/negligence of HD that proximately caused your fall & if you have any contributory negligence to offset that.
It is really impossible to give you “fair compensation” without all those facts.
An old saw is 3x medical expenses - but that really isn’t valid.
You may want to consider hiring an attorney, who will work on a contingent fee basis - no recovery, no fee. Ordinarily an experience attorney will bring value to your case that exceeds the contingent fee you will pay vs. what you could negotiate for yourself.
Also, some attorneys, such as myself, are able to obtain medical treatment for uninsured clients on a lien basis - the provider gets paid out of the settlement.
Please feel free to call me to discuss your situation further.
I concur with the views and opinions of other attorneys here. Yes, you'll have to apportion damages between the two falls (first due to a trip, second due to a slip). But, you'll also have to address liability. H.D. is a difficult (cheap) adversary and you'd have to address with any responsible adversary who all was at fault, and by how much, in your slip and fall at H.D. Your best option includes prompt, affordable, complete recovery of your injuries.
You should retain a personal injury lawyer right away and don't talk to anyone on the other side in order to protect your rights. If after an investigation of the case and the extent of your injuries and damages from the case, you can then make a demand for settlement and determine whether to accept any offer, go to small claims court if the case is not worth much, or proceed in superior court if warranted? There will need to be a medical exam with an orthopedic doctor specializing in hand treatment/surgery to determine an apportionment of your injury between the two events and the extent and cost of future medical care. If you are not retired there is also the issue of past and future lost earnings and loss of earning capacity. You also have a right to damages for pain and suffering, mileage to and from your medical appointments. Prepare a detailed statement of facts about the accident and take photos of the bathroom and your injuries to give to your attorney.
No one can tell at this juncture.You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on Avvo.com.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
"Apportionment" is the term used to separate who pays what when there are injuries to the same body part at different times. Apportionment is very commonly applied in worker's compensation matters where a person such as a heavy equipment operator may suffer serial back injuries - each one worse than the last - over the course of many years. A qualified medical examiner (QME) or other such examiner will determine what percentage of the back injury should be attributed to which date of injury. The same ideas would hold true for a personal injury claim. A medical expert (physician) would opine as to apportionment should someone injure an already injured body part and sue for one of the injuries.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
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The defendant will argue two things - 1) preexisting injury 2) that they were not negligent as the puddle existed on the bathroom floor by the drain where it is normally expected to be wet without their negligent operation, thereby you should've been the one to exercise reasonable caution. Without any other facts, it is difficult to determine what would be a fair compensation if at all.
Prior to any settlement, you should have your case reviewed by a personal injury attorney. You have details about your claim that need to be asked and answered by an attorney. Further, you do not want to settle your claim until your injury has been fully evaluated. Do not sign any releases until you have done both (speak with an attorney and know what your type of injury you have)
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