Slip and fall accidents are a common cause of physical injury and death in the United States. If the accident did not occur due to your negligence or happened on someone else’s property, you can file a lawsuit against the property owner and prove his/her negligence in a court of law to obtain financial compensation for your damages.
Although the time such a lawsuit takes varies between different cases, all such cases tend to follow a generally similar chronological order. While most slip and fall lawsuits end in settlements outside the court, some proceed to trials that inevitably take more time, energy, and resources.
Slip & Fall Lawsuit Timeline
Slip and fall lawsuits can last anywhere from months to years, depending on the specifics of each case. It is essential to hire a competent personal injury lawyer to handle your personal injury lawsuit after any slip and fall accident. Having an experienced lawyer, especially the knowledgeable slip and fall attorneys at Salamati Law in Los Angeles,CA, handle your case can significantly raise your chances of getting fair compensation for your damages. Although the number of stages and the time taken might vary between different cases, most slip and fall lawsuits have the following steps:
The period immediately after the accident during which you seek medical attention, file an official report with the property owner, and gather initial evidence can take a few days to a few weeks.
Initial Legal Consultation
Within the first few days or weeks of your slip and fall accident, you should contact a reputable law firm and discuss the specifics of your legal case. Most law firms offer a free initial consultation, and some charge only if you win the case and receive financial compensation as a result of the lawsuit or settlement.
Once you choose an attorney to represent you, he/she will examine the official records, physical evidence, witness testimonies, etc. Gathering this information is essential for building your legal case, and this phase can take several weeks.
Filing a Complaint
Once your attorney has gathered all the information required to move ahead with the lawsuit, he/she will file a formal complaint with the court. The opposite party must also receive a copy of this complaint along with all the necessary paperwork to let them know of your claim.
Answering the Complaint
When you file a formal complaint and notify the other party, they have up to 20 days to respond. Just like the initial complaint, the opposite party must also submit the answer to it to the court and send a copy to your attorney. The legal back and forth before proceeding with the lawsuit can take up to a month.
After receiving the answer to the complaint, your attorney will send a demand letter to the opposite party. The demand letter is a document stating the compensation you seek from the other party with legal justifications for your actions and demands. The demand letter might be followed by negotiations and the whole process can take up to a month.
Pretrial Phase, Settlement & Trial
The pretrial phase involves the discovery of evidence with the witness and expert testimonies and depositions under oath. The phase can last several months. Before the case moves to the trial, there is an opportunity for both parties to settle outside the court. Settlement talks can be informal or formal, and in case both parties fail to reach common ground, the case will move to a trial. The court where the case is filed gets to decide the date of the trial, which is usually several months into the future. In a trial, both sides get a chance to present their cases, and a jury decides the outcome.
The Bottom Line
In short, a personal injury lawsuit can take up to a year or two years to resolve in a court of law. The lawsuits that end in settlement usually take up to six months to resolve. However, both timelines can vary depending on the complexity of the legal case and circumstances surrounding the slip and fall accident.