Compensation in an icy slip and fall accident lawsuit in Philadelphia, Delaware or Montgomery County includes medical bills, lost wages, out of pocket expenses and pain and suffering. Pennsylvania injury law allows a personal injury plaintiff to seek compensation for any and all damages caused by an accident and injury. This applies to slip and fall accidents caused by icy conditions, such as ice on a sidewalk, parking lot, stairway, etc.
Proving Negligence is Key to Successful Slip & Fall Accident Lawsuits
Icy conditions on walkways are usually caused by accumulations of snow, freezing rain, etc. Snow which is not cleared properly can melt and then refreeze, resulting in patches of ice. For unsuspecting pedestrians, a slip and fall on a patch of ice can lead to fractures, spinal injuries and/or head injuries.
In order to succeed in a slip and fall lawsuit in Pennsylvania and get compensation, the injured plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent, i.e., failed to behave in a reasonable manner, given the circumstances.
Proving negligence in a fall accident lawsuit almost always requires proof that either 1. the property owner knew about the condition at some point prior to the incident but failed to correct it, or 2. the circumstances show that the owner should have known about the condition. Proving the latter usually requires analyzing the weather in the days or hours before the incident including amount of precipitation, temperature, etc.
Related Article: Slip & Fall Accidents in Pennsylvania – Insurance Claims [What’s the role of insurance in slip and fall accident lawsuits in Pennsylvania? Many fall accidents are covered by a homeowners insurance policy or a commercial insurance policy, which provides a source of compensation for the injured plaintiff.]
Compensation Claims in a Slip & Fall Accident Lawsuit
Below are three examples of common compensation claims in a Pennsylvania slip and fall accident lawsuit.
Claims for medical bills include hospital visits, surgeries, physical therapy, doctors’ visits, etc. Initially, the injured plaintiff would have to pay these bills via their own health insurance. The claim includes what the plaintiff actually paid out by way of co-pays or deductibles. PA law does not allow the plaintiff to claim what the insurance company paid out on their behalf. Rather, the insurance company can become part of the lawsuit via the plaintiff and seek reimbursement for what it paid out. This is known as subrogation.
For example, a plaintiff incurs $10,000 in medical bills after a slip and fall accident in Delaware County. Her insurance company pays $5,000 to the various medical providers, and the plaintiff pays $2,000 in co-pays and deductibles. The plaintiff can claim the $2,000 she paid. If her health insurance company asserts its subrogation claim for $5,000, the plaintiff would claim $7,000 in medical bills. If she’s successful in her lawsuit, she would have to pay the health insurance carrier back. Exactly how much of the $5,000 the plaintiff pays to the health insurance company depends. In PA, the health insurance carrier’s amount would be offset by its share of plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs.
In some cases, a medical provider may agree to hold off payment pending the results of a lawsuit. For example, a physical therapy office may accept a letter of protection, which basically promises to pay the office from the future proceeds of the lawsuit. The amount of the provider’s bill simply gets added to the plaintiff’s claim for medical bills.
Lost wage claims can get pretty complex, especially if the plaintiff made a claim for disability benefits. In the most simple cases, the plaintiff would be able to make a claim for lost wages, dollar for dollar. For example, an injured pedestrian in a fall accident who missed 4 weeks of work would be able to make a claim for the actual amount of wages lost during that period, even if it included sick pay, vacation pay, etc.
When a short or long term disability policy is involved, the wage loss claim is much more complex. Typically, employer-provided disability policies only cover a percentage of the weekly wage or salary. So the plaintiff could naturally make a claim for what isn’t covered by the disability policy. For example, let’s say the plaintiff makes a short term disability policy claim through her employer. The plan only pays 75% of her weekly wages; this leaves her with a shortage of 25% of her salary. In her accident lawsuit, she can include the 25%. She doesn’t get to make a claim for the remaining 75%. Whether the employer/disability plan can make a subrogation claim to get back what it paid out to the plaintiff depends on complex state and federal law. In most cases, the employer/plan would be able to make a claim.
Pain & Suffering
Pain and suffering in a slip and fall accident lawsuit is pretty straightforward in that whatever plaintiff receives isn’t offset by payments to a health insurance company or an employer-provided disability plan. Under PA law, plaintiffs in slip and fall lawsuits can seek payments for physical pain and mental anguish caused by an accident and injuries. This includes loss of the ability to live a normal life, including family, work, hobbies, etc.