Slip and Fall Settlement Timeline
A Colorado slip and fall case can take anywhere from several months to several years to resolve. It is impossible to predict exactly how long your slip and fall case will take. As you will see, there are many variables at play. This article will walk you through the stages of a slip and fall case. I will also discuss the legal issues that could prolong your case.
If you have any questions about your Colorado Springs premises liability case, contact me, Jeffrey Scott Lasswell. Let me put my knowledge and experience to work for you today.
Stages of a Slip and Fall Case
Below you will find the steps that a typical slip and fall case will follow. This should give you a good understanding of a slip and fall settlement timeline.
During your free initial consultation with me as your premises liability attorney, you will get a chance to explain what happened to you. I will collect general information from you, and I will answer any questions you have about your case. At this initial meeting you can decide if I am the right attorney for you.
If you hire me as your attorney after the initial consultation, I will launch an investigation into your slip and fall accident. That investigation will help both of us determine if you have a viable case. I will be able to determine the cause of your injuries and which party or parties should be held liable for them.
Slip and fall cases fall under the area of law known as premises liability. In a premises liability claim, the negligent property owners can be held liable for injuries that occur on their property.
During the investigation, I will seek information that allows me to answer these questions:
- What party was in control of the property when the slip and fall occurred?
- Were you, the victim, given permission to enter the property?
- Did a dangerous condition exist on the property?
- Did the property owner know, or should have known, of the hazardous condition?
- Did the hazardous condition cause you to suffer an injury?
The Complaint and Answer to the Complaint
Filing a complaint is the first major step in a slip and fall lawsuit. The complaint is an official document that describes the nature of your lawsuit. The complaint informs the property owner (the “defendant”) of your claim. In general, a complaint will state who the parties are. It will describe the slip and fall accident and who is responsible for it. Finally, the complaint will set out how much financial compensation you are requesting from the defendant.
The complaint is sent to the party you are filing a lawsuit against. A summons is delivered as well. This orders them to reply to the complaint within a set time period. You will then await the defendant’s answer to the complaint. The defendant’s answer will admit or deny the allegations in the complaint. The answer may also state that the defendant does not have enough information to admit or deny your allegations.
After you receive the answer, you will need to send a demand letter. The demand letter formally states what you want from the defendant to resolve the case. The letter will contain reasons why you believe your demands are legally justified. The defendant could respond to your demand letter. That may prompt some negotiations between you and the defendant.
Discovery and Trial Preparation
Once the defendant has agreed to proceed with the lawsuit, the discovery phase begins. During the discovery process, both parties make known any information they have related to the case.
The lawyers for each side may obtain the following:
- Interrogatories – These are written questions served by the opposing party regarding the facts of the slip and fall case. Your lawyer will assist you in completing interrogatories requested by the other party and help you answer any questions.
- Request for admission – This requires that the party named in the lawsuit admit or deny particular facts about the case.
- Document production – Each party has to provide to the other side all documents related to the case. A lawyer will help you gather all relevant documents and provide them to the defendant.
- Depositions – Depositions are question and answer sessions. Depositions are conducted out of court and under oath. The oral statements of each witness are known as testimony. The testimony is often reduced to a written transcript for later use in court.
As your lawyer, I will fight to reach a full and fair settlement on your behalf. In the vast majority of slip and fall cases, the parties successfully negotiate a settlement. However, the insurance company may not take your slip and fall seriously at the negotiation stage. If this occurs, your case will be headed to court.
When you are unable to reach a settlement, your case will proceed to trial. The case will be heard as a bench trial or jury trial. With a bench trial, a judge will decide your case. The judge will decide which statutes apply to your case and whether the evidence you present proves your case. If your case is heard by a jury, the judge still determines which statutes apply. But a jury will decide your case and rule in your favor if your evidence is strong and persuasive.
Most slip and fall cases reach a settlement before going to trial. At any point along the way – and in some cases, during the trial – the defendant may offer to settle the case with you. You can decide whether to accept the settlement agreement. If you accept the settlement, the court is notified that the case has been resolved, and the case is dismissed.
What Can Make a Case Take Longer?
Slip and fall cases generally take anywhere from six months to six years to resolve. Complicated cases may take longer, especially when the other side disputes your claim.
Your slip and fall case may involve multiple liable parties. When holding three or more people responsible for the accident, for example, each defendant may file motions, either against you or each other, to try to get out of the case. This gets the courts involved.
The court must make decisions about those motions, and the court’s decisions can be appealed. If the decisions are appealed, it could take a year or longer for an Appeals Court to issue a ruling. This is one reason why some slip and fall cases take years to resolve.
Talk to a Premises Liability Lawyer About Your Case
As a Colorado Springs premises liability attorney, I have extensive experience representing clients who have been seriously injured by hazardous conditions on private and public property. I will thoroughly investigate your case. My goal will be to determine whether you are entitled to compensation.
If you have been hurt on someone’s property due to their negligence, call me, Jeffrey Scott Lasswell. I’m ready to help. I will schedule a free and confidential consultation where we can discuss your case.