How long can you expect to wait to get the compensation you need after a slip and fall accident injury?
It just depends. Personal injury lawyers can give you their best estimate of how long it will take to settle your slip-and-fall claim but it ultimately depends on a number of factors – and some of the factors depend on when you are released from medical treatment or know the full extent of your injuries. Your claim could take anywhere from months to years to complete.
How Long Will Your Slip and Fall Case Take to Settle?
The Length of Your Personal Injury Attorney’s Investigation and Your Treatment
Once you’re well enough from your injuries to meet with a lawyer, they will need to begin gathering and reviewing evidence. The lawyer will want to hear a detailed account of how the slip and fall injury occurred and analyze whether actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition can be established or if the claim involves negligent activity and a contemporaneous injury. This can involve getting affidavits from witnesses, additional photographs, etc.
Of course, the length also depends on the severity of your injuries. Generally, a case will not be submitted until you have been released from medical treatment or have reached a point where the full extent of your injuries and future damages are known. After all, you are entitled to be reimbursed for past medical bills you incur because of the slip-and-fall and the total amount of the bills will not be known until you are done treating.
Also, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and physical impairment are heavily influenced by the extent of the recovery you make. Your case will be different if you make a 100% recovery as opposed to a 70% recovery.
Filing Your Claim or Demanding a Settlement
After your attorney’s investigation is complete and your treatment is complete their staff should secure copies of all of your medical records and bills. They may also request prior medical records so that they can demonstrate the injuries you sustained in the slip-and-fall were new or, in the alternative, to demonstrate that you had pre-existing conditions that were aggravated as a result of the incident. When all records are obtained they will usually be sent to the store or its insurance adjuster with a formal settlement demand or proposal.
How Negotiations Go
A high percentage of slip-and-fall cases settle out of court. If that’s the case, you’ll likely shave off many months, and possibly years, from the length of your claim.
Sometimes negotiations are straightforward and easily won. Others, they break down, both sides can’t agree to a resolution, and your claim ends up in court.
In the majority of cases it makes sense for both sides to compromise and avoid costly and time-consuming litigation. Stores typically don’t want to pay the injured victim and a defense lawyer if it’s a valid claim they know they will eventually lose.
But, they will go to court if they feel they have a strong case they can win.
The Integrity of the Personal Injury Lawyer or Firm You Hire
Make no mistake about it, some big personal injury firms treat your case like a number. They have one hundred cases just like yours. They may want to ram you through their process as fast as humanly possible so they can maximize their own profits.
Not every injury law firm does that. But, you have to watch out for it. Big firms that advertise a lot on TV frequently have that approach.
Small firms generally take on a lower volume of cases and take the time to prepare a much stronger case so you get the most compensation possible.
Length of Time Has No Relationship to Success
Look, it does stink that the slip and fall accident claim process takes so long. But that’s the way it works. Good claims take time to develop. Properly developing the claim is like baking a cake. If the slip and fall claim doesn’t settle and litigation is required you’ll be in for an even longer wait. That’s why it is important to go with a personal injury law firm that affords you the best opportunity to resolve your claim pre-suit. Courts and judges are typically overwhelmed with more than they can handle. Litigation can take years.
The American legal system has flaws. But, it’s the best system we have. So you have to do your best to be patient. But also make sure you find a personal injury lawyer who understands how to help you through this difficult time. Some have connections with medical professionals who delay billing until your slip and fall claim completes, for example.
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Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.