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Can Slip and Fall Settlements Be Reached Out Of Court?

If you have a slip and fall legal case, you may be wondering what to expect during this process. Your personal injury lawyer will work closely with you to listen to what you need and help you get the compensation that you deserve for your slip and fall accident injuries. One of the biggest questions that you may have is whether or not these types of cases can reach an out of court settlement? By reading on, you can learn all about slip and fall cases as well as the process of getting a settlement or going to court.

All About Slip and Fall Cases

What type of slip and fall cases are there? There are different types of injuries that could be caused by a slip and fall accident, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head neck injuries
  • Fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

To win your case, you need to prove a few different things. First of all, you need to prove that the other party was responsible for your accident by proving their liability. This means that you need to prove that they were negligent in their duty to care for the premises. You also need to prove that there was negligence on behalf of the other party, which led to your slip and fall accident. What this means is that they were aware of a hazard and had a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem before an accident happened. For instance, if there was a spill on the floor and the staff went to grab something to pick it up and an accident happened immediately, there wasn’t any negligence. However, if they were aware of the spill and didn’t clean it up within a reasonable amount of time and an accident happened, they would be negligent. Lastly, you need to prove responsibility and fault. You need to prove that they breached their duty to keep people safe while on their premises. The biggest part of this is to prove the other party’s negligence in keeping people safe.

When talking about slip and fall accidents, these are generally caused by:

  • Poor lighting
  • Poorly maintained flooring
  • Wet flooring
  • Spilled liquid
  • Food spills
  • Crowded walkways
  • Poorly maintained sidewalks or parking lots
  • Hazards in walkways

Typically these issues are a result of negligence on the part of the staff and management of the premises. As soon as they are aware of a problem, they should take the necessary steps to fix these issues in a timely fashion. If your slip and fall accident was caused by one of these situations, it is generally considered as “avoidable” or “foreseeable”. However, a slip and fall caused by an unforeseeable circumstance is not considered negligence.

It’s also important to know that there are 3 types of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. An invitee is someone who is a customer or patron of the specific establishment. Licensees are special or social guests of an establishment or residence. These two categories of visitors get the highest priority as far as a duty to protect them as they are on your premises. The property owner must take all proper care to ensure safety when they are on the property. However, this isn’t necessarily the case for a trespasser as they are not invited or allowed on the property. It’s harder to have a case for safety if you had no permission to be onsite anyways.

Slip and Fall: Settlement Out Of Court

For the most part, slip and fall accident cases are often settled before going to court. Only about 2% of these cases ever really go to trial. Generally, these cases are either resolved by a settlement or through a court-ordered summary judgment, going in favor of one party. Why are these generally settled before a court trial? Trials are costly for both sides, which is why it’s beneficial to all parties to settle out of court.

When talking about a settlement, part of this process does involve mediation. Mediation is where both of the parties discuss their case to a mediator, who is a third-party person who is impartial during the case. Each of the parties can address their case and any relevant information to the mediator to help come up with ideas on how to best settle this case.

The mediator plays a special role during this process. They will encourage a discussion of the facts and any disputes that either party needs to air out. The end goal is for the mediator to come up with a settlement that is as satisfactory and fair as possible to the parties involved. Unfortunately, not all mediation ends up with a satisfactory resolution.

You have to remember that the goal of the insurance company is to get out of paying as much as possible. They don’t want to pay your damages and will fight as long as they need to so that they can avoid these payments.

Before you accept any settlement agreement, you need to be sure that you like the terms of the agreement. Settlement agreements are binding and final, often including a release of liability. What this means is that the insurance company won’t cover anything that wasn’t covered and agreed upon in the agreement. The problem with this is that if there are any future medical treatments that are required as a result of your injury, you can’t ask for more money later on. You also can’t take them to trial after you have signed the settlement agreement.

This is a major reason why you want to have an experienced lawyer with you through the entire process. A lawyer can help you better understand how to value your claim so that you know whether or not a settlement is a fair offer. There may be things that can come up during the process including bruises or scarring not healing as well as expected, secondary infections as a result of your injuries, or that there may be more extensive treatment than you had expected. There are also other considerations such as lost wages, loss of future wages, and the impact on your quality of life. A lawyer can come up with a number that will account for all of these things.

You can reject a settlement, especially if your attorney thinks it’s the right call. They will give you valuable advice that you can trust to ensure that you get the best settlement offer possible. You often don’t even have to go to the settlement proceedings unless you want to participate in them, depending on what the lawyer and you find appropriate for your case. If the other party doesn’t offer something that is satisfactory to you and your attorney, the case will then go to trial.

Slip and Fall Cases: Going to Trial

When you have a slip and fall accident, you are entitled to adequate compensation that covers a variety of different expenses, including:

  • Current and future medical bills (such as therapy, diagnostic testing, and medications)
  • Loss of wages and loss of any potential future wages
  • Any pain and suffering caused as a result of your accident
  • Other expenses such as home maintenance and housekeeping needs

A personal injury lawyer should be prepared for a trial in case the time comes where they need to go to court. To prepare for court, the lawyer will need to compile all of the documents, witness statements or testimonials, and other evidence that is essential in proving the case. Most of this is already necessary for mediation, but there will be additional preparation that the attorney will have to work on including opening and closing statements. It can be anxiety-inducing to think about going to trial but rest assured they normally don’t get that far. Cases are typically resolved outside of a trial jury anyways.

Cases will generally only fail in the settlement stage for a few reasons. One reason is that both parties have issues agreeing on the facts of the case. Any other legal disputes could potentially impact getting a settlement. There are also some large corporations that are known for not settling cases, rather they go to trial with more resources and make it so that people are essentially bullied into a trial.

When going to trial, there are stages to this process. The first part of the process is the complaint and summons, where the nature of the claim is discussed. The complaint is prepared by the lawyer, including details of who the plaintiff and defendant are, who’s responsible for the accident, and how much money you are looking for in regard to compensation. After the complaint is filed with the court, a summons needs to be brought to the defendant within a specific time period.

The defendant will then offer their answer to the claim. This will usually address a denial or admission of the claim. It will also use terminology meant to reduce or absolve the defendant of their liability. This is due within a specific time period after receiving their summons.

The next phase is the discovery phase, where both parties will conduct interviews and request for any evidence. This phase can take quite some time as the lawyers on each side get as much information as they possibly can.

Prior to the trial occurring, the case will go into the pre-trial motions phase. In this phase, the courts will address the motions that were filed during the discovery phase. Most common types of pre-trial motions include:

  • Motion to Dismiss (typically the defendant tries to find a technicality to dismiss the case entirely)
  • Motion to Compel (to get the other party to do something or produce documents that they refuse to)
  • Motion for Summary Judgement (If granted, the trial ends in support of one party or the other with a judgment by the judge.)
  • Motion in Limine (prevents certain evidence from being shown because it’s too prejudicial)

After the discovery phase and motions have occurred and been worked through, the trial will then begin. Your case will be set in the docket and eventually, you will have your court date. It’s important to know that if your trial is successful, you won’t leave there with a fresh check to cash. The plaintiff has to collect on their judgment, usually receiving payment in a couple of months after the trial. If not, your lawyer can take steps to make sure you get your money.

If you do end up going to trial, it’s important that you follow the advice of your attorney every step of the way. This is important because they are there to help you get the best resolution possible for your specific case. You may even end up getting a settlement as the case is in the trial, as the other party sees how strong your case really is. Your lawyer is an essential asset to you throughout this process.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

It’s true that you can go through this process without the help of an attorney, but that wouldn’t be the best choice. Even if you are getting a settlement prior to a court trial, you may not understand how much your claim is really worth. The other party can take advantage of your inexperience and lack of knowledge in this area, offering you a lower claim than you deserve. In some cases, people accept these low offers because they think it’s plenty when it really doesn’t cover everything that you need it to. A lawyer is your best asset to ensuring that you get the compensation that you deserve. The large company you are suing has a team of professionals working for them; you should have the same advantage.

At The Injury Firm, we believe that slip and fall accident victims have the right to get the proper compensation. We fight for our clients in settlements to get them a fair offer but are always ready to go to trial if the need arises. We have our client’s best interests at heart, which is why we work so hard to make sure that they get the money that they deserve for their injuries. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your slip and fall claims.

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The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only.  This website may contain information about The Injury Firm's past results, testimonials about the firm or a lawyer within the firm, and statements regarding the quality of The Injury Firm's work product. This information has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. Please be advised that: 1) the facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters for which results and testimonials have been provided: 2) Not all results of cases handled by the firm or its lawyers are provided and not all clients have given testimonials; and 3) The results and testimonials provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the firm or by its lawyers or of the experience of all clients or others within the firm or its lawyers. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

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