Question: What is a reasonable settlement for a slip and fall resulting in reconstructive knee surgery?

Question Detail: I was injured in a slip and fall accident in a commercial parking lot. The lot was covered in ice, and had not been plowed or salted by the property owner or renter. As a result of the fall, I suffered a ruptured patellar tendon and torn ACL. I had reconstructive surgery on my knee, and underwent 9 months of physical rehabilitation, 2-3 days per week. The injury resulted in my knee mobility being reduced to about 70%. During this time, I was completely unable to work, as I work as a delivery driver. I lost approximately $25,000 in income. My medical bills have totaled about $60,000. The insurance made an offer of $90,000 to settle, with no further liability for future medical expenses in relation to this injury. I have had to borrow money to survive over these months, and want to resolve this matter, so I can repay the loans. I am just not sure if that is a reasonable offer, or would I be foolish in accepting it?

Answer: You need to hire a lawyer who handles this sort of work. From the little information provided anyone answering this question would be guessing at best. But please allow me to put this in perspective for you.

Without reviewing the medical records, knowing the exact wage loss amounts and whether any of that has to be repaid, the basis for the claim of wage loss, permanent impairment figures, medical expense totals, whether there is subrogation or liens for who paid the medical expense and something about how painful this condition was and is I would be hard pressed to come up with a valuation. I know what you are attempting to do – you are trying to avoid having to hire a lawyer thinking you can increase your share by not having to pay a lawyer. And that is fine but for those playing lawyer who aren't, it hardly ever works out as one would think it will. In fact in my thirty-two years of experience handling personal injury cases it works out exactly the opposite.

Injured people fool themselves into believing it is not hard to handle their own personal injury case. And so after talking themselves into going it alone they learn what that means. Going it alone means you are expected to know about things like the law of liability, fault allocation, lien laws, ERISA, unpaid medical expense, reading subrogation provisions in multiple insurance policies, statute of limitation rules and the laws governing damages. That learn about how adjusters aren't there to be fair to you and how they want an unfair result; at least unfair for the injured person, because that is their job.

Injured people without legal representation are like children playing with a loaded gun. They know nothing of the law governing personal injury, and take on the risk of making a mistake. But some people are good at fooling themselves and undeterred they reload the gun and now aiming erratically they attempt with all their might to shoot themselves in the foot by trying to shortcut the entire process and jumping right to the end of the settlement process. They try to go from A to Z without doing any of the work in between. It is when the insurance adjuster starts the process late in the game and asks for details that were never generated that they become uneasy and unsure about how to proceed. At that point they are starting to feel really uneasy about how much damage they are doing to their case and in an attempt to avoid the sense of doom they send an inquiry to me asking how much their case is worth. They think if I can tell them a ballpark figure to settle for, then the insurance company will jump onboard their settlement train and just pay up.

But that’s not how this process works. You do have to understand the legal theories of recovery and this requires an understanding of the law of liability and damages. No lawyer can explain nor would they try to explain thirty or more years of learning in a single blog post or even a single letter. Some of what we do is by the intuition of our collective experience. We have legal vision and at some point we sense and then recollect past experiences where a legal challenge arose and how we avoided the trap being set by the defense lawyers and the insurance adjusters. But when it comes to doing what we do best, we don’t value cases based on intuition; we value cases based on the facts. You have not told me enough to know all the facts having to do with both liability and damages so realistically I can't answer your question and if I tried I would lose credibility.

So allow me to ask you one question: You haven’t a clue what you are doing do you?

If you are not going to hire a professional who handles these cases why don’t you do your own surgery too? Think of all the money you could save. I suspect you could have bought a car with those savings. Here allow me to help you be able to do your own surgery: Videos of how to perform knee reconstruction surgery. I'll bet you work on your own cars, fix your own toilet, repair the roof on your house along with replacing all the light fixtures in your house. After all every one of these jobs are easier than practicing law and so you must be qualified to do all of them. Good luck with whatever it is you are trying to do and I my firm can help you give us a call.


If you want help with your legal case call me, otherwise I cannot answer your question.


Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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