Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure that their property is safe for any guests, visitors, customers, or anyone else who has a legitimate reason to be on the premises. Unfortunately, many property owners fail to keep up with routine maintenance or simply ignore obvious hazards. When someone gets injured, the property owner rarely accepts liability, leaving the victim to figure out how to pay for their injuries.
The Barnes Law Firm works with people who have been injured in slip and fall accidents in the Knoxville area. If you’ve been injured, we’ll help you understand what your claim is worth and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured and are worried about your future, call us at 865-805-5703 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
What Are Damages?
In legal jargon, the word “damages” refers to compensation for your losses that were caused by your accident. They are sometimes referred to as “compensatory damages” as they are intended to compensate you for your losses. These losses can be in the form of economic losses and noneconomic losses.
There is also such a thing as “punitive” damages – damages that are intended to punish the at-fault party. Punitive damages require that you prove that your accident was the result of reckless or wanton behavior, rather than simple negligence. As a result, punitive damages are rarely available in slip and fall cases.
Medical bills are always included in a slip and fall claim. Your lawyer will include all of your medical expenses, including those that may have been covered by insurance. They will also include any uncovered medical expenses, such as copays, deductibles, and other uncovered expenses. Your medical bills can also include things like physical therapy, equipment, and any other medical needs that are the result of the accident.
In the event that you need to make a claim, you have to prove your damages. Any medical expenses that you can’t document will not be paid. For this reason, it is really important to keep copies of all bills, invoices, receipts, and account statements – anything that shows what it cost for you to recover from your injuries.
If your claim is successful, your compensation will be offset by any amount that was covered by insurance. If you are uninsured, you will be entitled to the entire amount awarded to you.
You are also entitled to be compensated for any lost income that you suffered as a result of your accident. This component of your claim can include the following:
- Time off of work because you were in recovery or physically unable to work
- Time off of work to go to receive medical treatment (doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, etc.)
When you are calculating your lost income, you need to be sure you include all sources of income that suffered as a result of your injury. For example, maybe you had to hire someone to manage a property that you own that you wouldn’t have otherwise hired. Again, you will need to prove your lost wages, so assembling the correct documentation will be important.
If your injuries are permanent, you may also be entitled to claim your lost earning capacity. This is a complex calculation, but an experienced slip and fall attorney will know how to formulate this portion of your claim. If you are completely unable to work, you can claim all of your lost future earnings. However, you can also claim any lost earnings if you are able to work but unable to advance in your career due to your injuries.
As mentioned above, your medical bills and lost wages are referred to as economic damages. You can identify a specific amount of money that you lost as a result of your slip and fall accident. The law recognizes that accident victims can also suffer noneconomic losses and that victims are entitled to be compensated for those losses as well.
Pain and suffering are almost synonymous with noneconomic losses. However, your noneconomic damages can also include the following conditions:
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, society, or consortium
Noneconomic losses can be difficult to prove because they are subjective, and there is no specific dollar amount that you can say they are worth. Regardless, the pain and suffering you are experiencing are real, and you are entitled to compensation.
Comparative Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases: How it Can Affect Your Damages
Long ago, the general rule in personal injury law was that you could not recover compensation from an accident if your own negligence contributed to the accident. Realizing that the rule led to some harsh and unfair results, states began to adopt a “comparative negligence” rule that would allow people to recover despite their own negligence. Tennessee, like many other states, has adopted a modified comparative negligence rule.
Under Tennessee law, you can recover compensation from an accident so long as you were less than 50% responsible for the accident. Your damages are then reduced according to the amount your negligence contributed to the accident. For example, if your actions contributed 20% to the accident, then you would receive 80% of the total compensation that you would otherwise be entitled to.
Conversely, if you were more than 50% responsible for the accident, you are barred from recovering any compensation. As a result, property owners will try to argue that your negligence was more than half responsible for the accident. They may raise one of the following arguments:
- You were trespassing
- You ignored signs warning you to keep out or to be careful
- You disregarded or circumnavigated safety features
- You were behaving recklessly
Contact the Knoxville Slip and Fall Attorneys at the Barnes Law Firm
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The slip and fall lawyers at the Barnes Law Firm can evaluate your case and help you understand your options. Don’t let your injury change your life – contact us at 865-805-5703 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.