In some cases, slip and fall lawsuits are resolved through a legal settlement process without proceeding to trial.
Understanding the Settlement Process
Many slip and fall injuries are settled out of court, if parties can agree on a fair payment amount to cover the injury victim’s damages. However, many slip and fall cases involve complex negotiations and injury liability issues, so court preparation is necessary in case a settlement agreement can’t be reached and the case proceeds to trial.
The settlement process goes through various stages of preparation. Depending on the complexity of the case and the timeline to complete each stage, the settlement process may take several months or years to complete.
Complaint and Summons
Filing a complaint is the first step in pursuing a slip and fall lawsuit. A complaint is an official document prepared by a slip and fall lawyer describing the nature of the legal claim. It states the names of the plaintiff and the defendant, a description of how personal injuries occurred, the allegedly responsible party, and the monetary amount requested for damages.
The purpose of the complaint is to inform the defendant that legal action has been taken. Once filed in court, the complaint is served on the defendant, along with a summons that orders the defendant to reply to the complaint within a set time period, typically 20 days.
Once the complaint and summons are delivered to the defendant, he/she must return an answer within 20 days. The defendant either admits or denies allegations listed in the complaint, or states that he/she does not have enough information to admit or deny the allegations. Typically, the answer sets forth “affirmative defenses” that may absolve or reduce the defendant’s liability.
During the discovery stage, the plaintiff and defendant learn about the case through interrogatories, questions that must be answered in writing and under oath. Both parties may be asked to produce information and/or documents related to the claim. The discovery stage may take months or years, depending on the complexity of the case, the duration of medical treatments, and the court’s schedule.
Slip and fall lawsuits are usually settled through a slip and fall lawyer during mediation or settlement conferences that take place near the end of discovery. While a mediation conference may be conducted by a private mediator or slip and fall lawyer, a court judge usually orders and conducts a settlement conference.