Written By: Mark Schreuder
Unfortunately, accidents and injuries can still occur even in places where you should have the right to feel safe. If you have suffered a slip and fall injury, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim. This type of compensation claim falls under Public Liability Law, whereby supermarkets, councils and other public entities are responsible for the safety of everyone who uses their premises.
For instance, many customers often slip and fall in their local supermarket, which can lead to more serious back, neck or head injuries.
If have been injured on private property, due to the fault of another party, you may be entitled to make slip and fall claim, where you can receive compensation for your injuries.
What kind of slip and fall compensation can I claim?
Before working out how much your payout amount could be, it’s necessary to speak to a slip and fall lawyer and determine the nature of the incident and your resulting injuries and losses. Generally speaking, there are three main criteria for making a claim.
First, you need to prove that:
- The person/company owed you a duty of care.
- The person/company failed to uphold this duty of care.
- You have suffered a loss because of it.
Every slip and fall case is unique, so receiving tailored advice to your specific situation can help you better understand your specific position. A compensation lawyer will help you determine whether you have grounds to lodge personal injury claims for slip and fall scenarios.
What can I be compensated for?
How much compensation you can receive for your slip and fall claim will vary depending on your individual circumstances and is based on the amount of harm or loss you have suffered. Personal injury claims can take some time to process, often up to 18 months. In that time, it’s likely that you would have already had to pay significant medical bills and other costs associated with your fall. Of course, depending on your age and income, the predicted compensation for the rest of your life can be quite substantial.
The purpose of any compensation is to put the victim back to the position they would have been in had they not slipped and fell due to the negligence of another.
You may receive compensation for:
1. Past and future medical expenses
This may include hospital fees, doctors’ fees, cost of medication etc. The victim of a slip and fall claim will be reimbursed for past medical expenses that arose because of the injury. For future medical expenses, compensation must be discounted by 5%, as per the Civil Liability Act 2002. If, due to your injury, you have received any government benefits relating to medical expenses (such as Centrelink), these benefits must be repaid from the compensation payout. Also, any medical expenses that were paid for by your private health insurer must also be repaid out of the compensation.
2. Cost of care (domestic assistance) provided by a professional, or by friends and family:
Applicable in cases where your injury may require you to seek assistance from other people to help with household duties. Compensation for attendant care provided by friends and family (known as gratuitous care) can be awarded regardless of whether it was paid for or not. However, compensation in this area is subject to restrictions.
Firstly, it must be shown that there was a reasonable need for the gratuitous care, solely due to the injury. Secondly, as per the Civil Liability Act 2002, the gratuitous care must have been given for more than six hours per week, for a period longer than six consecutive months.
For commercially paid for care, it must only be established that the need for care arose solely because of the injury and that the amount sought is reasonable.
3. Loss of past and future earnings
This may include time off work, loss of overtime or additional hours, or even a loss of a potential promotion. Compensation for the loss of past or future earnings is restricted. The Civil Liability Act 2002 limits the compensation payout, stating that any amount by which the victim’s gross weekly earnings exceeds three times the average weekly earnings of all NSW employees in the most recent quarter must be disregarded. Compensation for loss of future earnings must also be discounted by 5%, if paid in a lump sum.
4. Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
To be eligible for pain and suffering compensation, there are injury thresholds that must be met. This threshold is measured as a percentage of a whole person impairment. The requirement is that the injury sustained must result in a permanent impairment of at least 15% of the victim’s whole person. This will be assessed by medical professionals, who are under strict guidelines, and therefore only those injuries which significantly impact the victim’s health status are eligible for compensation.
Unfortunately, this means that some injuries, while significantly impacting the injured party, may not qualify for compensation. Injuries such as loss of fingers or toes, scarring or loss of taste often do not meet the threshold.
The Civil Liability Act 2002 has placed monetary caps on compensation for pain and suffering, stating that compensation cannot exceed $350,000, subject to indexation and that interest is not recoverable.
5. Home modification:
Applicable in cases where your injury may require you to make modifications to your home in order to accommodate your injuries (such as installing a ramp).
Contributory negligence occurs when the victim’s own negligence has contributed to the causation of their injury, due to a failure to take reasonable care for their own safety. For example, where a customer sees a ‘slippery when wet’ sign at the supermarket but proceeds to run through the area, and then they slip and fall, they may be considered partly or fully at fault for their injuries. If this is the case, responsibility for the injury will be apportioned between the victim and negligent party, and compensation will be reduced accordingly.
Lump sum payouts
Compensation is most commonly paid out in a lump sum. However, sometimes inaccurate predictions about the long-term nature of the injuries can leave victims with a payout that fails to meet their long-term needs. Therefore, it is best to seek legal advice in order to receive an appropriate compensation amount.
For more information about personal injury compensation, contact Schreuders today.
What payout amount can I expect from my claim?
The degree of injury or loss following your slip or fall will determine the level of compensation you can expect. Again, no two personal injury claims are the same, and different individuals might have very distinct recovery journeys following a similar incident.
A good way to think about it is to look at your life journey post-incident. What was your predicted life path, if you didn’t slip and fall? Perhaps you were in a high-paying job, for example. Then you will want to map out what your life journey is likely to look at now that you’ve suffered this injury.
Will you be able to continue working? Perhaps you’ll have to pay for ongoing bills associated with your fall. This discrepancy between predicted and actual life path is what your compensation should seek to cover. As mentioned before, compensation cannot exceed $350,000 however they usually tend to range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What are the next steps?
Contact Schreuders today to enquire with our lawyers and give yourself the best chance of successful slip and fall compensation. We’ll be able to help you determine all areas of compensation you might be entitled to. There are several thresholds that must be reached before you can claim certain expenses. A claim for pain and suffering, for example, will need to prove 15% impairment. These are the kinds of areas that only lawyers well-versed in personal injury claims for slip and falls can address.