Slip and Fall Frequently Asked Questions: General
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER A FALL?
1. See Here.
Check out our blog for what to do immediately after a fall to help get a settlement fairly and quickly.
WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY?
2. Why should I hire an attorney to help me?
First, we do not charge you unless we win and recover money.
You will never be charged if there is not a recovery. You literally have nothing to lose by hiring us.
Secondly, we help you do two things you probably cannot do on your own – We can reverse the insurance company’s initial decision to deny responsibility by the business landowner for your fall.
Our personal statistics show that 95% of all slip-and-fall claims are denied for any money at the initial stage without an attorney.
Next, we can maximize the amount of your settlement and get you full justice by proving damages of all losses and harms. There is a big difference between an offer to give you a coupon off merchandise for your fall or getting a large settlement that includes money to cover all of your damages for your injuries.
For example, in one case we ended up recovering over $5,000,000 on a pre-suit offer to settle for $5,000 made by the insurance company. Additionally, our statistics show that nearly 95% of all of our cases receive a settlement offer at some time during the litigation.
And, finally, another huge reason you should hire us -- we have never lost a single jury trial for a premises liability case in our 30+ years.
3. Why hire an attorney when all I want is my medical bills paid? Am I entitled to more money than just my medical bills?
Yes, you are entitled to more settlement money than just payment of your medical bills.
Indiana law is clear – you are entitled to more than just your medical bills and lost wages. This, of course, is conditioned upon the landowner was at fault and that fault caused your injuries.
The money damages can include such other factors (in addition to medical bills) as lost wages, loss of future wages, disfigurement/scars, permanent injury, mental anguish (often called pain and suffering) and loss of inability to function as a whole person would.
There are no strict calculations necessary under Indiana law for those factors such as pain/suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, permanency and loss of ability to function as a whole person. A jury simply must use its common sense and come to a reasonable figure.
So, when we try to get you a settlement, we attempt to predict what a jury would do if the case were to proceed to a jury trial. In theory, the other side also attempts to make this same prediction and offer somewhat less to minimize its risks.
4. Do I get less money from a settlement because I must pay my attorney?
No. Hiring an attorney almost always ends up putting more money in your pocket.
Our own personal statistics show that you make back significantly more than if you had not hired an attorney. National statistics seem to agree with our own. Furthermore, all settlements are voluntary. So, we would never agree to a settlement that did not include attorney fees as part of the settlement offered (unless your case had severe chances of not recovering anything).
Finally, if nothing was being offered and responsibility was denied, only an attorney can usually change that determination.
5. I fell down and got hurt on their land, doesn’t that entitle me to a settlement automatically?
No. Indiana premises law (law when somebody is hurt on another’s land) does NOT assume the landowner/business was responsible for your fall.
That’s why you need to hire us – we can prove your claim of negligence by the business landowner.
Your negligence claim is a “civil” action under the laws of the State of Indiana. In order to recover ANY money, you must “prove” the business landowner was at fault or responsible for your fall. Fault means the business landowner did something wrong (unreasonable) under the circumstances that directly led to your fall and injuries.
Simply falling is not enough. It must be proven the landowner knew about the defect on its land and failed to act reasonably to prevent your fall.
Nobody is found responsible before it is proven to be “at fault” or responsible in some way for the injuries caused by acting unreasonably under the circumstances. Just like an alleged criminal is presumed to be innocent in a criminal court of law, a landowner is presumed to not be responsible for anything – including medical bill payments – until it is proven.
There are two ways to prove it (and get your medical bills paid plus perhaps more): (1) a settlement and (2) a jury verdict.
6. I fell down and got hurt on their land, doesn’t that entitle me to have my medical bills paid automatically?
No. Indiana premises law (law when somebody is hurt on another’s land) does NOT require any business or landowner to pay your medical bills while your case is pending. But we can still help.
No business landowner must pay medical bills of anybody injured on their property before it is proven in a civil case they were “at fault” or responsible in some way for the injuries caused by their unreasonable conduct.
Just like an alleged criminal is presumed to be innocent in a criminal court of law, a landowner is presumed to not be responsible for anything – including medical bill payments – until it is proven.
But, we can help you get your medical bills paid quickly and fairly (or collections slowed or stopped). We can help with the various ways to accomplish it.
There are five different to get your medical bills paid: (1) a settlement (2) a jury verdict (3) a promise to pay from our law firm to the medical treaters, or (4) money borrowed by your case while it is pending, or (5) alternative insurance coverage known as “MedPay.”
Obviously, a settlement includes some compensation for medical bills or at least considers it. A jury verdict probably does the same thing.
We also use Letters of Protection promising to pay the medical treaters from the settlement proceeds when the case settles. This requires medical treaters who approve of this method.
We also know litigation groups who extend funds to pay medical bills while your case is pending. Your collateral is your case (in other words, if you do not recover any money, you do not owe them back).
Finally, some business landowners have a separate insurance policy covering medical payments for bills of people injured on its land regardless of fault. It is rare, but it does exist. We ask whether this coverage exists in every single claim or case we handle for you. If it exists, we can get SOME bills paid up to the amount of the policy limits owned by the landowner/business quickly.
7. Won’t Wal-Mart or the business where I fell just settle to avoid bad publicity?
No. Wal-Mart (and insurance companies in general) does not care about publicity – it cares about minimizing your settlement money.
Wal-Mart has thousands and thousands of people seeking compensation per year for injuries that occurred on its land. It is a big business. It does not care about publicity in that regard. Ask yourself how civil cases for injury you personally know about with Wal-Mart being the defendant. We bet it isn’t many off the top of your head without researching the internet.
Your case is no different – it is a business decision Wal-Mart and other businesses will make. It is not personal and bad publicity does not play a role in its decision-making when deciding if a settlement will occur.
8. My friend told me she got a big settlement right away, yet you are telling me to hire you and be patient? Why should I trust you and not my friend?
If you want a large settlement, it does takes a little time.
But, it does not take as much time as you might think. Time is going to pass regardless, you might as well be patient and see if you can acquire a big settlement with our help.
Additionally, we have learned through the years that almost all stories about friends or family are probably mistaken or the truth was stretched. Many people like to exaggerate their successes to impress you. We will not do that. We simply tell you the honest truth. All the time. Every time.
And the truth is that big settlements take time; small settlements can happen quickly, but not fairly. Would you rather listen to your friend or our law firm which has never lost a jury trial for premises liability and has over 30+ years of experience?
SHOULD I ACCEPT THEIR OFFER TO PAY MY MEDICAL BILLS?
9. Shouldn’t I just accept the insurance company first offer they made to me over the phone instead of hiring an attorney?
No, you should never accept the first offer made by an insurance adjuster.
It is usually is almost worthless and you could be throwing away several thousands of dollars.
Insurance companies realize that many people want to avoid conflict or negotiating in any situation, so they make a small opening offer hoping to catch a bite (think of purchasing a car or a house – did you accept the first offer?).
Slip and falls are no different than any other large financial transaction. The first offer is nothing more than an attempt to get you to leave and go away for almost nothing.
A more major problem with accepting the first offer is the inability come back later and get more money if your medical condition worsens. Only one settlement can be made on a case. Many people don’t know the full extent of their injuries until they finish medical treatments or see a specialist.
Many injuries cannot be properly diagnosed without an MRI or CT-Scan. These can take months to schedule (especially getting approval from your health insurance company). Settling right away can result in no money added to your settlement for your true diagnosed injuries.
A good rule-of-thumb is to finish ALL medical treatments before attempting to settle ANY personal injury claim.
10. I can’t afford my medical treatment, I have no health insurance, so what do I do?
We can help you get the medical treatment you need even when you don’t have the money.
See us for more help. Many medical treaters will treat you based upon a promise to pay by our law firm for their medical services if you win your case. That method is called a “Letter of Protection” and our office has knowledge of many medical treaters who will accept that method of payment for medical services.
11. Who pays my medical bills in the meantime while I wait for a settlement?
Your medical bills can be handled in a variety of ways. We can help you with all the various ways to get your medical bills paid, slowed or stopped.
Sometimes, medical treaters have already rendered treatment to you and issued a bill. If you do not have the money to pay the bill, there are various alternatives to collections or bankruptcy. We can contact the medical treaters and see if they would be willing to be paid upon a promise to pay if a settlement or verdict is reached. Additionally, there are some financial institutions that will lend you money (with your case as collateral) to pay your medical bills and personal obligations while your case is pending. We know of many of these types of institutions and have relationships with them. Our goal is to keep you afloat until a settlement or verdict can be reached.
12. Doesn’t the law require the landowner or business to pay my medical bills right away?
No, the law does not require your medical bills to be paid while your case is pending.
Falling on somebody’s property is not enough to get your medical bills paid – we must prove “fault” of the landowner that caused your fall.
Indiana law does NOT require your medical bills to be paid by the landowner or business while your claim is pending. Before that can happen, we must prove “fault” (sometimes called “negligence”) first or reach a settlement. This part of the case can be demeaning and scary. Having bills and collections is never fun. Our goal is to keep you afloat until full justice can be reached as quickly as possible.
13. If the business is not obligated to pay my medical bills while I wait for a settlement, then what happens if they go unpaid?
We will help you slow or stop collections or get your bills paid while you wait.
See our previous answer above, but simply put, we can try to stall the medical treaters or reach an agreement to pay them later. Sometimes, we can get institutions to lend you money in the meantime to pay your medical and personal bills while the case remains pending. There are options and we have good relationships with many to help you in this regard.
14. Why should I use my health insurance to pay my medical bills, it was their fault?
You should use your health insurance when available for three reasons.
First, you bought health insurance for a reason – to pay your medical bills when you get hurt. You should use what you paid for.
Second, the goal is to get all medical bills by any source while your case is waiting for a settlement or verdict. Collections is no fun. It does not help your credit report. If your own health insurance can help you avoid collections, then it is a worthwhile goal to use it.
Finally, there is a financial benefit to using your health insurance to pay your medical bills. Indiana law says that repayment to the health insurance company from the settlement can be reduced for attorney fees and expenses (there are some exceptions to this reduction such as federal ERISA health insurance plans and a few others).
So, using your own health insurance can result in more money in your pocket after a settlement is reached.
15. Won’t hiring an attorney make them mad or force them to change their minds about paying my medical bills?
No, the insurance company won’t get “mad.” Hiring an attorney is the best way to get a large settlement.
As stated above, the decision to settle a case and/or pay medical bills by an insurance company is not a personal one. It is a financial one.
Insurance Companies do not make decisions to pay out of kindness or generosity. Insurance companies make decisions to pay based upon minimizing risk of paying more later.
Getting an attorney helps you highlight the risk to the insurance company. In other words, an insurance company is more likely to pay your bills or make a settlement if you hire us, because it knows that we are experienced and knowledgeable. It knows we are not afraid to go into a court of law and prove your case. Hence, they offer to settle often.
16. They told me if I gave a recorded statement, they would pay my medical bills, so I did. Was that a good thing to do? What should I tell them when they want my statement? Is it too late to hire you or get more money?
No. We can still help you even after you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster.
Insurance adjusters often lie. They will claim that no medical bills can be paid until a recorded statement is given to learn more about what happened. In reality, there is only one reason for them to request a recorded statement – they want to trip you up and deny your claim when you make a mistake during the statement.
Never give a recorded statement without talking to us first.
You have two years to file a lawsuit in a court of law before your claim expires.
Consequently, that is usually plenty of time to get medical treatment and come back to provide further information.
My advice to respond to an insurance adjuster who wants a recorded statement soon after the injury: tell them “I am focusing upon my health right now. I will contact you later when I feel better.”
Then call us.
17. Can I borrow money and use my claim/case as collateral in the meantime to pay my bills?
Yes, you can borrow money using your case as your security. And we know the groups who do it.
There are many financial groups out there who are willing to lend money to litigants who have cases pending where the lawsuit is the only collateral. In other words, if the lawsuit is lost or not settled, then no repayment is necessary.
We have relationships with many of these groups and can put you in touch with them. They will then contact us for further information and we can help secure your loan while your case is pending.
18. If the biggest part of my settlement is for pain and suffering, how do you calculate the amount?
Yes, pain and suffering is the largest part of any settlement. And we have the know-how and decades of experience to get it done.
As stated above, the largest part of any settlement or verdict is NOT the medical bills – but rather some money to compensate for mental anguish (pain and suffering) or inability to function as a whole person.
There are many ways to prove these damages. We can talk to your doctors or family and friends who can provide us with stories and explanations about your injuries and recovery process.
We can submit health records that display your pain during the course of your treatments.
Sometimes, we are able to hire an expert witness who can give opinions about your pain and suffering. We have multiple ways we attempt to maximize your recovery and over 30+ years of experience in doing so.
19. The insurance company wants my recorded statement over the phone, they said it was necessary in order to pay my medical bills, is that true?
No, payment of medical bills has NOTHING to do with giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster.
Insurance adjusters will lie to you. They will insist a recorded statement is necessary and then medical bills will be paid. This is simply not true.
Payment of medical bills depends upon whether: (1) there is separate MedPay coverage; or (2) whether we can prove fault.
Statements have nothing to do with payments. Ever.
20. I had a friend who got a settlement right away when she fell, won’t I get a settlement quickly, too, instead of hiring you?
No. Not if you want a significant monetary recovery.
Here’s the honest truth – small settlements can be done rather quickly.
But, if you want a large settlement this is usually done slowly. Insurance companies do NOT hand out money quickly or without a full and complete investigation of your current and prior medical conditions.
Many people are offered $500 plus medical bills payments to settle their case quickly. This is foolhardy in most circumstances and you could be throwing away tens of thousands of dollars or more with just a little patience.
AM I REQUIRED TO SUE THEM AND GO TO COURT IF I HIRE AN ATTORNEY?
21. Does hiring an attorney mean I am required to go to court?
In fact, hiring an attorney is the best way to avoid court and receive a big settlement.
Almost 98% of all our cases never see the inside of a court room at any time. All investigation is done outside the court room, including your statement, if one is given.
22. Does hiring an attorney delay my settlement?
Maybe, but it is worth it.
While it is true that court cases and litigation take more time, it is due to a more extensive investigation done by the other side. We also do a more thorough investigation of why this incident occurred. This can include written questions to each side and oral statements given under oath to a court reporter (depositions). While that might take a little longer, the settlement is usually much, much higher due to the increased risk for the insurance company of going to a verdict.
Remember, verdicts are decided by a jury. A jury is 6 people off the street that neither side knows prior to the morning of trial. Insurance companies hate risk and losing money unnecessarily. The ONLY reason an insurance company will pay a settlement is to avoid losing more in the future. Consequently, we do our best to make them aware of the risk and be very, very afraid of us.
23. Will anybody go to jail if this goes to trial?
No, nobody is going to jail as a result of your claim or case.
Your claim for negligence on the part of the business landowner is civil action and not a criminal action under Indiana law.
Civil actions seek monetary relief only; criminal cases involve people possibly going to jail.
The two types of cases are different. You will be in civil court with a civil court Judge. No employee or management member is going to jail. You are not going to jail if you lose. This is a civil case and the only remedy is money.
HOW DO I HIRE YOU?
24. If hiring an attorney gets me a bigger settlement, then how do I hire you?
Hiring us is simple.
It takes about 5 minutes, if you have an email.
In fact, you never need to leave your computer or smart phone. Simply call us or Zoom with us. We decide to most of our cases over the cell phone.
If we decide to take your case, we need your written permission to act on your behalf. So, we send you a written agreement by email. You simply “click” on your signature and we can get started on your case within 10 minutes every single time.
25. How often will you contact me?
As often as you like.
Just let us know what contact method you prefer and we will accommodate.
We usually answer all emails and texts within 10 minute, every single day, 24/7.
We also attempt to send out emails once or twice a month to keep you up to date on your case.
26. How do you contact me? Do you text?
We do it all – texts, Zoom, IMs, Facebook, emails (preferred method), cell phone or any other method you let me know is best for you. Let us know what is best for you.
27. I already have another attorney, can I still hire you? Won’t I be required to pay two sets of attorney fees then?
Yes, you can change attorneys quickly and easily in Indiana and be required to pay ONLY ONE set of attorney fees. It’s the law.
If we accept your case, we work out the details with your prior attorneys to compensate them for their time. You never have to be involved or speak to them again. We simply ask you send them an email informing them you intend to switch attorneys to us.
A Lawyer you can count on.- Kim
Not just the lawyers you need, but the lawyers you WANT.- Tristen K
Jeff Shaw was Very Professional- Shelby Kunes
Attorney Shaw got me a fair settlement, much more than I thought we were going to get.- Randy & Kathy M
I Told Him He Now Felt Like a Member of Our Family More Than Our Attorney.- Stephanie B.
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