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How Much Money can a Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Win in an Ice Fall Claim?

by | Jan 20, 2020 | Firm News, Injuries

The average ice slip-and-fall settlement amount is like the average new home value. There is so much difference between a starter home and a mansion that the “average cost” does not mean much. Likewise, ice slip-and-fall cases are so different that the average settlement amount does not accurately predict a particular case’s settlement value.

Statistically, the average ice slip-and-fall settlement is roughly $82,000. That amount varies significantly, based in part on the injury location. Settlements after falls at government facilities, like schools, are almost three times as high as grocery store and other retail falls. Other variables include the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the strength of any defenses.

The bottom line is that a Hutchinson, MN lawyer might be able to obtain substantial compensation in these situations. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Legal Responsibility

In general, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. So, the greater the legal duty the owner owed to the victim/plaintiff, the higher the settlement amount a Hutchinson, MN lawyer can obtain. To determine duty, the Gopher State uses a classification system based on common law principles:

  • Invitee: If the owner invited the victim onto the property, either directly or indirectly, and the owner benefitted from the victim’s presence, either economically or noneconomically, the victim was an invitee. That means the owner had a duty of reasonable care. Most ice slip-and-fall victims are invitees. They could be shoppers or social guests.
  • Licensee: These individuals have permission to be on the land, but they do not benefit the owner. Children who cut across parking lots on their way home from school are usually licensees. Since the relationship is more distant, the duty is less. Typically, owners must only warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects, such as the potential for black ice.
  • Trespassers: This pejorative term refers to persons who have no permission and confer no benefit. Owners generally have no duty in these situations. Those stories about injured burglars who sue homeowners are largely urban legends.

Some exceptions to the trespasser category protect child victims, like the frequent trespasser rule and the attractive nuisance rule.

How Do Hutchinson, MN Lawyers Establish Knowledge?

The law is a bit unclear as to the extent of knowledge required. Some courts require only a general knowledge about ice and snow on the ground. Other courts require Hutchinson, MN lawyers to establish that the owner had specific knowledge about a specific ice patch. Evidence on this point could be one of the following:

  • Direct: Typically, certain areas of a walkway or parking lot are prone to ice development. Perhaps they are in shadow most of the day or perhaps a slight depression allows water to collect. Typically, other people have slipped before, and even if they were not injured, they may have reported the incident. That’s an example of direct knowledge.
  • Circumstantial: This evidence usually involves the time/notice rule. Owners do not have a duty to cordon off certain areas or take other precautions immediately after snow and ice stops falling. But the longer they delay taking such action, the easier it becomes for a Hutchinson, MN lawyer to establish constructive knowledge (should have known).

As mentioned, there is normally a direct relationship between the amount of knowledge and the amount of damages. Jurors do not like it when companies ignore problems and thereby put other people at risk.

Some Ice Slip-and-Fall Defenses

Prior to filing a legal claim, or even sending a demand letter, it’s important for a Hutchinson, MN lawyer to know who or what controlled the property.

Retail parking lot falls are a good example. Typically, a store, whether it is big or small, is responsible for maintaining the four or five spaces nearest its door. The landlord is responsible for the remainder of the parking lot. If a Hutchinson, MN lawyer pursues a claim against the wrong defendant, it’s usually possible to start over, but the delay is costly.

Contributory negligence is another possible defense. When the ground is icy, most people know that they should walk carefully. Indeed, many McLeod County jurors are quick to place most of the blame on the victim. The situation is different if the fall involved black ice or another hidden hazard.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent threshold. Even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the fall, the owner is liable for a proportionate share of damages.

Connect with a Diligent Attorney

Successful ice slip and fall settlements are built one step at a time. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several area offices to serve you.