Do I Have to File a Lawsuit to Get Paid After a Slip and Fall Accident?

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Slip and fall accidents are among some of the most complex personal injury lawsuits. However, you do not always have to file a lawsuit to receive compensation. You may settle outside of court with the insurance company, but adjusters always put the best interest of the company above yours. If you slipped, fell, and suffered an injury on someone else’s property, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses. 

What Is a Slip and Fall Accident Lawsuit?

Roughly eight million people fall every year and suffer injuries that warrant a trip to the emergency room. Of those eight million, 12% occurred because of slip and fall accidents. Seniors and small children are the most vulnerable demographics, and property owners are expected to maintain a reasonable standard of safety on their property.

Ultimately, the only reasonable time to file a lawsuit is after you slip and fall on someone else’s property due to a dangerous condition that could have been prevented. You must sustain a physical injury in order to satisfy the negligence claim of a lawsuit as well because the value of your claim is determined by the severity of your injuries. The legal process is difficult without the guidance of a slip and fall attorney. 

Should You Settle Outside of Court?

Insurance companies and adjusters generally approach claims with a critical view and search for potential ways to avoid paying a settlement. Accepting a settlement outside of court prevents you from taking legal action in the future. Therefore, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice before making a decision. 

To understand the value of your claim, you need to know what damages you can recover. Potential damages in a slip and fall case include:

  • Economic damages include the cost of current and future medical treatment, current and future lost wages, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, any damage to property, and all other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish or distress, loss of enjoyment

Economic and non-economic damages are compensatory, meaning that they are designed to make whole your person as much as possible. Severe injuries sometimes result in permanent damage or disability that results in a drastic change in your ability to enjoy life and earn a sufficient income. Valuing your claim requires calculating the amount of the economic damages and assigning a numerical value to the non-economic damages.

When Should You File a Lawsuit?

The best way to determine if you should file a slip and fall lawsuit is to speak to an attorney about the details of your case. The statute of limitations for a slip and fall accident varies among states, but most allow you between two and three years. Keep that in mind as you think about your options and start to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros of Filing for a Slip and Fall

The most prominent reason to file a lawsuit is to seek a monetary settlement. Medical treatments are often costly, and the more severe injuries require more long-term care. Some examples of common injuries incurred from a slip and fall include:

  • Broken or fractured bones, most commonly the hips, wrists, and ankles
  • Knee damage
  • Traumatic brain injuries ranging from mild, such as a concussion, to severe, such as a hemorrhage 
  • Spinal cord injuries and nerve damage
  • Shoulder dislocations and muscles strains

Some more minor examples are cuts, bruises, and sprained ankles or wrists, which are painful and temporarily debilitating.

Another pro is that you may help others avoid getting injured in a similar capacity on the property. A lawsuit is an effective deterrent. Most property owners will learn a lesson and avoid neglecting their duty of care in the future.

Cons of Filing for a Slip and Fall

There are also a few cons associated with filing a slip and fall lawsuit. For example, litigation is often expensive, and you are not always able to prepare for the costs you may incur with expert witnesses, incidentals, and hiring a court reporter for the deposition. It can start to add up. One benefit is that you will likely not have to concern yourself with attorney’s fees. Most personal injury attorneys work on contingency, which means that their pay is contingent on your winning the case. You typically do not need to provide them with any form of payment upfront.

Another con is that it can be time-consuming. For example, evidence collection can take months. Personal injury lawsuits typically settle no earlier than six months, and your attorney may advise you to hang on longer. 

Additionally, you, the plaintiff, are charged with the burden of proof. You and your attorney must build a strong case that proves the property owner was aware of the unsafe condition that caused your accident and did nothing to remedy it. 

What Is Premises Liability?

The primary law that governs slip and fall cases is premises liability. The concept of premises liability is that a property owner has a duty of care to anyone that legally steps a foot on their property. For example, a business owner is expected to remove snow and ice from the parking lot within a reasonable amount of time in order to keep it safe for customers. However, suffering an injury on someone else’s property does not immediately mean that the property owner was negligent. 

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Another element of a slip and fall case that you must consider is comparative negligence. There are two types of comparative negligence, pure and modified, and state law dictates which applies to your case. In general, comparative negligence states that the percentage of responsibility that you bear in an accident is subtracted from the total amount awarded to you. In a pure comparative negligence state, you may still recover some compensation even if you bear most of the responsibility. Under modified comparative negligence, you are no longer eligible if you are more than 50% responsible. 

What Should You Do If You Slip and Fall?

In the immediate aftermath of a slip and fall accident, it may be difficult to collect your thoughts, which means it is even more difficult to collect evidence. However, in the best-case scenario, you are able to follow these simple steps:

  • Assess your injuries and seek medical attention 
  • Take photographs of the area and specifically the dangerous condition that caused your fall
  • Speak to no one about the accident and avoid posting anything on social media

Seeing a doctor immediately also creates an official record of your injuries provided by an expert. The final step is to take all of the evidence you collected and present it to an attorney who understands the complexity of premises liability and proving fault in a slip and fall case. 

Do You Need a Slip and Fall Attorney?

A slip and fall accident can have devastating physical and financial effects, and filing a lawsuit is sometimes a necessity rather than an option. An attorney understands the complexities of the legal process and can advise you on the strength of your case. The experienced slip and fall accident attorneys at Mike Morse Law Firm are here to help you figure out the next step with support and compassion. Contact us today for a free consultation today.

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