Many slip and fall cases are settled before going to trial. Nevertheless, you still want to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Slipping and falling on other people’s property can cause serious injury. If you were injured in an unexpected slip and fall, you may be able to hold the owner or manager responsible for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages and other financial losses . However, in order to hold the other party responsible, two important elements must be established: the other party was negligent and their negligence caused your injuries.
The process of filing a slip and fall complaint can seem like a mystery. That’s why you should retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the nuances and challenges associated with a slip and fall case.
Investigation and assessment of your complaint
The first step in any legal action is to investigate the accident. In a slip and fall case, a plaintiff will seek to gather witness testimony, incident reports, medical records, surveillance footage and photographs of the accident scene. Victims of slip and fall accidents are often able to help their cause if they could obtain some of this evidence immediately after their injury. Once your attorney understands the scope and facts of your case, they will begin to assess your claim.
A crucial part of building a personal injury case is calculating the victim’s losses. First, your personal injury lawyer collect evidence regarding your tangible losses, including medical bills, loss of income, prescription drug expenses, loss of earning potential, physical therapy, and other direct losses resulting from the injury. Next, your attorney will work to quantify your intangible damages, such as mental anguish, physical suffering, and emotional distress.
Sending a formal notice
Before filing a complaint, your lawyer will probably send a formal notice to the defendant and his insurer. The letter will outline your claim, supporting evidence of negligence, and your estimated damages. At this point, an injured slip and fall victim could settle their case with the insurance company without going to court.
Preparation of the complaint
An official prosecution begins when a complaint is filed and served on the defendant. Therefore, your lawyer will draft the initial complaint. A complaint is a legal document that provides a factual description of the accident, the damages claimed and the legal basis for the claim.
Receive a response
A defendant is required to file a response once they have received a complaint or risk losing the case. The response will deny or admit the allegations listed in the complaint. In addition, the respondent’s response will set out the defenses relied upon by the respondent. Often a defense attorney will include an allegation that the injury resulted directly from the plaintiff’s negligent or reckless conduct.
Discovery phase and pre-trial motions
The discovery phase allows each party to request evidence, documents and statements from the opposing party. This is a critical phase in any legal proceeding. However, in a slip and fall case, this is particularly important because the defendant is the party with access to the property where the injury occurred. Your lawyer could send a formal request for documents, interviews or take depositions to help you build your case.
Sometimes there are disputes during this part of the court process. Your attorney may need to file pretrial motions for a judge to rule on a point of contention or disagreement. In some cases, a plaintiff could file a motion for summary judgment, alleging that the defendant has failed to present a valid defence. Similarly, the defense could file a motion to have the case dismissed because the complaint did not raise a valid legal claim.
Settlement Conference and Negotiations
In most cases, a settlement or status conference will be scheduled. At this point, a judge will work with the parties and their legal representatives to reach a settlement instead of going to trial.
Your lawyer might also negotiate with the insurance company throughout this process. It is not uncommon for additional evidence to be revealed during the discovery phase. Depending on the strength of the evidence and which side it favors, the insurer or injured victim might be more open to a settlement rather than risking the outcome of the trial.
Although many cases are settled without a trial, this is not always the case. If your case goes to trial, each side will present their evidence before a judge or jury. By providing medical records, testimonials, expert opinions and other types of evidence, both the plaintiff and the defense will seek to prove their respective cases.
Once the evidence is presented, a judge or jury will determine fault and the amount of damages awarded. In some cases, an appeal could be filed by the losing party, which would further delay the process.
An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Will Help You With a Slip and Fall Case
Many slip and fall cases are settled before going to trial. Nevertheless, you still want to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawyer will help you understand the strength of your legal case and the value of the potential damages you could reasonably expect. A lawyer is also a skilled negotiator who has spent hundreds of hours working with insurance companies to reach a fair settlement.