Assume for a moment that you were injured in a slip and fall accident. Now it is time to try and recover compensation for your injuries via a personal injury claim/lawsuit.
But what is the length of time to reach a fair settlement?
It usually take anywhere from a few months to several years to settle a slip and fall case. The specific amount of time will just depend on the facts of your case and such things as:
- the extent of your medical care,
- when you file the insurance claim,
- whether you file a lawsuit, and
- whether or not your case goes to trial.
1. Can you settle a case before receiving medical care?
Usually, no. It is important that you receive medical care after a slip and fall accident. You should visit:
- an emergency room,
- an urgent care clinic, or
- your primary care physician.
You normally do not want to settle your case before you receive medical care for all of your slip and fall injuries. This is because you will not know the full extent of your damages until all of your medical care is complete.
If you try and settle your case while still being treated for your injuries, you might very well reach a settlement amount that is not in your favor.
Note that the length of time to complete your medical care will depend on the severity and extent of your injuries. The more severe your injuries, usually the longer the time to receive medical treatment.
2. Does a slip and fall case involve an insurance claim?
Many accident victims often file a personal injury claim with the insurance company of the property owner on which you suffered the accident.
For example, if you fell in a grocery store, you would file a slip and fall claim with grocery store’s insurer.1
Once you file a claim, you will eventually enter into settlement negotiations with an insurance adjuster.
Please note that if you hire a personal injury lawyer or law firm, the attorney can negotiate your insurance claim on your behalf. Further, you usually do not have to pay your slip and fall lawyer unless he/she successfully reaches a slip and fall settlement.
The specific time it might take to settle a claim is again a few months to even years. Timing of a settlement will largely depend on the facts of your personal injury case, including things like:
- if you have serious injuries,
- the length of your medical treatment,
- whether you have a strong case with a lot of favorable evidence, and
- how eager an adjuster is to settle your case.
3. What happens if you file a slip and fall lawsuit?
Many slip and fall claims get settled informally without a formal lawsuit being filed in court. But you generally have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit if negotiations fail.
As with an injury claim, the overall time until you settle your case largely depends on the specific facts of your case.
When deciding whether to file a suit, it is usually a smart idea to seek the legal advice from a skilled slip and fall attorney or personal injury attorney.
Note that the “discovery phase” of your lawsuit is usually when your attorney gathers all the evidence and information within your case.2
Your attorney usually holds a settlement conference with the other lawyers in the slip and fall case either during or soon after the discovery phase closes.
Your lawyer will try and provide you with maximum compensation by reaching a favorable settlement offer. Note that compensation can include payment for your medical bills and other medical expenses.
Please keep in mind that, while most slip and fall cases do settle, not all cases end in a settlement.
4. Will your slip and fall case go to trial?
Your slip and fall case will likely go to trial if you cannot agree to a settlement with the defendant(s).
Depending on the local court system, it can take from several months to several years to get the case to trial. Many courts are still heavily backlogged because everything got put on hold during COVID. Further, depending on the facts of your case, the trial itself may take up to a few days to several months.
During the trial, you and the defendant present your respective cases to a judge or jury. The judge or jury then determines whether or not to hold the defendant liable for your slip and fall injuries.
A liable defendant often has to compensate you for your:
- medical expenses,
- lost wages,
- future lost earnings,
- property damage, and
- pain and suffering.
- Note that “premises liability” is the area of the law that examines what happens when you are injured on another person’s property. If you bring a claim or suit in this situation, some states may refer to it as a premises liability claim or premises liability case.
- Note, as an example, that the discovery process often involves the taking of “depositions.” A deposition is where an attorney asks oral questions of a party or witness to a case. The person who is deposed is called the “deponent.” See, for example, Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition – “Deposition.”