Kentucky Slip and Fall Lawyer: Is My Case Worth Pursuing?
In Kentucky, a business owner has a responsibility to maintain their property and avoid injury to persons legally on the property. This makes sense because an owner of property decides to either maintain their property or face the consequences for failing to do so. He or she is also the one making money from people visiting the property.
So what does that mean? It means that if you trip, slip, fall down, or otherwise hurt yourself as a result of a business owner or landlord failing to maintain a piece of property you can sue and potentially recover your losses. You have a right to go to a business and expect to be safe, but do you have a case if you are injured?
The STRENGTHS of your case depends on a three factors:
1) Liability (fault);
2) Money available (insurance coverage); and
3) Damages (injuries).
Liability means what facts are in your favor and what facts are against you. If the facts are in your favor than you have what lawyers call “good liability.” If the property owner didn’t do anything wrong you have “bad liability.” The terms good and bad aren’t meant to reflect anything more than your success of proving the case. In fact, good liability reflects that a bad thing happened.
The better the liability situation you have the better the chances a jury will hold that the defendant was negligent and responsible for your injuries. For example, did you fall as a result of your failure to tie your shoes? Bad liability. Or did you fall after taking all possible precautions to make yourself safe? Good liability. Could a landlord have put up adequate lighting or hired an employee to clean up and make the property safe but failed to do so? Good liability. Did you disregard a wet floor sign? Bad liability.
Potential clients often call me with the assumption that if they fall on property they are entitled to a recovery no matter what. That is incorrect. There must be some sort of negligent action on behalf of the property owner for a recovery. For example, let’s say you slip and fall at a water park in an area that is full of water. Probably not a case based on the fact you should have been aware you could slip on water at a water park in an area where there is water. The story changes if the water park allowed the water to accumulate in a dangerous manner or in a place water shouldn't have been. The story changes even more if you slip and fall at a local grocery story in a puddle of water that is in the dry goods aisle. There shouldn’t be liquid in the dry goods aisle. If you couldn’t see the substance and there wasn’t a way to avoid it your case becomes even stronger. A case must be strong enough to pursue from a liability standpoint wherein a jury will hold the defendant is liable for failing to make the property safe.
An injured party must also account for “contributory negligence.” The Judge will instruct the jury to hold you accountable for your actions as well. Defense attorneys will argue that your failure to pay attention, tie your shoes, see the wet floor sign, and take reasonable precaution to prevent the injury serve to limit your recovery. If the jury agrees your damages award will be lowered by that percentage.
For example, say a jury thinks you are 20% at fault and awards you $100,000 in damages. In that case a judge will tell the defendants to pay $80,000 on account of your fault. The higher percentage of fault for you the less the defendant has to pay.
Your recovery also depends on whether or not the defendant (see insurance company) can pay. If a lawyer is going to spend time and money, often times thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours, to pursue a case there must be money to recover. Injured at Target, Disney, the Grocery Store, or on a piece of property that is insured? The Defendant has money to compensate you. But let’s say you fall in an uninsured abandoned building with no owner? In that case you may be spending money to get a judgment that will never be paid (“you can’t squeeze blood out of a rock.”). What this means is that if a lawyer is putting a case in front of a jury that there is going to be insurance available. No lawyer is going to “spend good money chasing bad money.” The rules of evidence prevent anyone in the courtroom from mentioning insurance, but it is there.
Damages are what a jury will award you for your losses. Those damages will normally be: past, present, future pain and suffering (how much you were hurt); loss of past, present and future income (money you missed out on); and medical bills (that are reasonably related to the fall). Damages are designed to compensate you for what you have gone thorough and will go through. It is a system developed to right a wrong and we have entrusted juries for hundreds of years to compensate injured persons.
If you have $2,000.00 in medical bills and a quick recovery you are unlikely to find a lawyer willing to spend $5,000.00 and two years’ worth of work pursuing your case because at the end of the day your case is possibly worth less than the costs of a lawsuit. On the other hand, if you have a significant pain and/or lifetime of pain and significant medical bills than a lawyer will be more inclined to pursue your case. A lot of lawyers will not pursue a trip and fall case without 1) a fracture 2) surgery 3) serious injury or 4) significant pain and suffering.
All three of these factors listed above interact with each other. Good liability, terrible damages, and lots of insurance coverage? This is a case worth pursuing. However, if you change one of the factors, say coverage, then the situation changes. A person could be terribly injured at a bankrupt, uninsured property and spend $10,000.00 pursuing a case that will lead to no money in their pocket.
All of the above is very general. I’ll leave the more in depth discussion of sovereign immunity, punitive damages, weather, experts, ect. for another discussion but I hope this provides you with a starting point.
All lawyers that take on property injury cases should provide you with a free consolation. If they don’t then they aren’t worth hiring (in my opinion). Contact me with any questions and good luck. Advertising Material for www.louisville-injury-lawyer.com