There are many factors that are considered when determining the amount to be paid for slip and fall settlements. It will depend mostly upon the circumstances under which the victim was injured, and whether or not it implicates fault on the part of the owner of the property. From there, the special and general damages may be computed. If the breach of duty by the owner is particularly egregious, then punitive damages — damages ordered solely to punish the liable party for their actions — may be assessed as well.
In order to determine fault of the owner, the first step is to look at the actual cause of the injury. If the cause was a dangerous condition the owner knew existed or should have known existed, that is the first indication of their liability. Once that requirement is satisfied, the question now turns on the right of the victim to be on the property. If the victim was also invited as a guest of the owner or the property is a business or other semi-public place, then the owner is almost definitely liable for the victim’s injuries. Only very particular circumstances will lead to trespassers recovering in slip and fall settlements.
Typically damages will be calculated in two categories, called special damages and general damages. Special damages are the actual costs of the accident including medical costs, loss of income from missed time at work, as well as pain and suffering. General damages are theoretical damages to be calculated as an estimate of future losses. General damages in slip and fall settlements include both pecuniary losses, such as loss of future income, as well as more abstract concepts like costs to the future enjoyment of life as a result of the injury.
In certain circumstances, the victim may be in position to receive punitive damages, which leads to much higher amounts in slip and fall settlements because of the uncertainty in the size of the potential award. Courts are much more likely to grant punitive damages if the injury occurred on the property of a business than if the injury occurred at the home of a private citizen. If someone injures themselves slipping on rainwater that has gathered in a puddle at the entrance of a supermarket on a rainy day, they may be granted punitive damages if the supermarket acted with negligence or disregard for the safety of their customers. For example, if there is no sign warning entrants to the building of the possibility of slippery floors, and there is no rug at the entrance for entrants to wipe their feet as they enter, it may lead to punitive damages.