Each year, thousands of people are injured in slip and fall accidents. Sometimes, injuries sustained from these accidents can be severe, particularly in instances where an individual has preexisting medical problems, say in his or her hip. In certain slip and fall cases, the damages sustained can be staggering.
Because slip and fall cases can result in such serious injuries, lawsuit payouts following these cases can rack up some high sums. It’s not uncommon to see slip and fallawardsreach six figures, or even rise to the millions.
In one case, Marriott International was ordered to award $1.2 million for injuries sustained by one of its hotel guests. In this case, the court had to consider not only the case of the guest’s shattered ankle and the two surgeries that followed the fall, but also the arthritis that had developed in the ankle, the fact that the woman now walks with a limp, and countless other problems that tie in with emotional and physical suffering. Marriott International plans to appeal the $1.2 million verdict.
When payout amounts get so high, it’s common for major companies to argue and try to appeal these verdicts. During those appeal cases, the question inevitably arises: Should there be a cap on slip and fall awards?
What Would a Slip and Fall Cap Mean?
To individuals who sustain injuries following a fall, high slip and fall payouts seem fair. For defendants, though, high payouts are rarely as appealing, especially when the award numbers climb into the multiple thousands or millions.
When award prices get this high, one of the first arguments that people jump to is that there should be a cap on these types of awards. In injury cases, this debate has been going on for years. Usually the cap people advocate for relates to the amount that can be paid towards “non-economic” damages (that is, damages that are difficult to put a price tag on, such as emotional trauma). In almost all cases, a cap would not apply to “economic damages” (namely, those that include set amounts, such as hospital bills).
In many states, non-economic caps are already in place. Usually, the cap is set somewhere around $250,000 to $500,000. This means that, regardless of the details of your claim and your level of suffering, you will never be awarded more than the set amount.
The Business Perspective
Aside from the obvious benefits that award caps would have for defendants in slip and fall cases, it has also been argued that limiting damage payouts can reduce liability insurance losses in the long term. Some say that capping non-economic damages means that insurance companies will not have to fork over large sums, which means they won’t be trying to recuperate the losses from citizens by increasing premiums.
It has also been argued that capping damage payouts would lessen medical expenses across the board. Advocates claim that damage caps would allow doctors to be less fearful of being sued, meaning that they would no longer need to practice so much “defensive” medicine. (“Defensive” medicine refers to the practices of ordering an excessive number of tests and procedures to effectively cover all possibilities and lessen the likelihood of a lawsuit.) If defensive medical practices decrease, the cost of health care would go down,as well.
Damage Caps: Who Do They Benefit?
Contrary to the findings noted above, information from a 2006 report from the Confessional Budget Office showed that,“Lower premiums alone would not cut overall health care costs.” According to this report, malpractice costsare, in fact,marginal when considered in light of the wider realm of health care spending, which means that lowering them would have very little impact on overall health care costs.
In the above article, Chris Mather, the Communications Director for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, states, “There’s nothing to back up the correlation between the high cost of premiums the doctors pay for medical malpractice insurance and lawsuits. This is about the insurance company wanting to pay the least amount possible for injury. … The civil justice system, the courtroom, is [the victims’] last resort. It’s the last place they can go to get what they need.”
Since damage caps likely will have no significant effect on health care costs, it is very unlikely that you or anyone who files a slip and fall claim would see any benefit from these caps.On the contrary, damage caps would only work against you.
The Victims’ Perspective
First, caps could discourage slip and fall victims from filing lawsuits. Lawsuits can be exhausting and expensive, so if the possible award amount is not substantial enough, individuals with legitimate cases may choose not to go all the way.This is unfair, as all injury victims should be entitled to plead their case.
Furthermore, if an injured individual decides not to file a suit, the responsible parties will be let off the hook.Not be held accountable for their actions means they may continue to endanger others’ lives through their recklessness or negligence.
Lastly and most importantly, if you’re the party injured in a slip and fall accident, you might not get what is due to you.Every slip and fall case is different, and the legitimacy of your claim should not depend on a cap that was set in place by people who have no knowledge of you or your claim. Caps like these would essentially concede that your injuries and your accompanying emotional and physical suffering are worth no more than whatever pre-determined amount has been settled on as a cap.
You deserve more.
Victims of slip and fall cases are entitled to financial reparations for their pain and suffering . Calls for caps are essentially calls to sweep these claims under the rug, claiming that victims’ injuries are invalid or not worth adequate compensation. But you deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. If your injuries exceed the cap’s value, you should receive the total payment that you are justly entitled to.
About the Author: Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Although parking lot crashes are rarely high-speed, they do happen – a lot of them. Moreover, parking lot accidents often result in expensive repair bills and insurance increases. A parking lot crash can also cause serious or even fatal injuries, especially if pedestrians are involved. Below we’re going to break down how parking lot auto [..]
Consumer products regulations ensure that most products on the market are safe for their intended use. However, some consumer products companies push the boundaries of regulations or cut corners in the design or manufacturing process, which can lead to dangerous defective products reaching US consumers. When consumers are injured by a defective product, it may [..]
Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence, and it can take many different forms. For example, it may be based on a negligent action that the doctor took, or conversely, on something the doctor failed to do. However, in order to successfully hold a doctor liable for medical malpractice, you must be able [..]
Florida policyholders purchase insurance and pay premiums with the understanding that – should disaster strike – their insurer will pay out damages to compensate for losses covered in the policy. That’s the whole point of insurance! Paying out covered damages is considered to be acting in good faith on the part of the insurance company. [..]
As your teen approaches their 15th birthday, they have an exciting opportunity – the ability to get their learner’s permit. The Florida learner’s permit allows residents to start the journey toward driving – and freedom! However, in the immortal words of Uncle Ben from Spiderman (say it with us), “With great power comes great responsibility.” [..]
As a parent, you care about your child and you look out for their well-being. However, you may not be aware of which types of injuries occur the most often for Florida kids, and that’s something that can be the difference between avoiding an accident and spending time in the hospital. Children are treated every [..]
The holidays are just around the corner, and many Floridians are looking forward to getting into the holiday spirit with colorful decorations and fun family activities. However, the holidays also carry an increased risk of many kinds of injuries. On their own, holiday decorations are responsible for about 15,000 injuries annually. You probably know to [..]
Not sure which car seat is right for your child? You have an important job as a parent—providing a safe experience for your child while he or she is riding in a vehicle. Thousands of children are injured or killed in Florida car crashes each year, and the right car seat can protect your child [..]
Haunted houses are supposed to be scary. You want to jump. You want to scream. You want to be nervous about turning the next corner. What do you not want? To get hurt. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to a Michigan woman in 2014. She visited the haunted house as a patron, and a moving [..]
Every day, Florida pedestrians are injured by car drivers. Some injuries are minor, yet some can be life-threatening. In this post, we’ll tell you the types of injuries you can expect if you get hit by a car, and what you can do to fight back and get the compensation you need and deserve. Stats [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
The recent death of a Tampa couple is an example of what might have been a potential product liability lawsuit had they lived. On Thanksgiving Day, Kevin and Michelle Livingston were traveling home from a visit to south Florida. Reports indicate that their sport utility vehicle drove into the waters of a canal along [..]
This law firm helped me with my car accident case and helped me to get the most of the medical benefits that were needed after the accident, and gave me fair and helpful expectations on what I would recieve back for the pain and suffering after the accident.