Each year, many people are injured after slipping or tripping and falling in Pennsylvania. When an accident happens on someone else’s property and is caused by the property owner’s negligence, the injured victim may be entitled to recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you have suffered injuries in a slip-and-fall accident on the property of another person or entity, you might wonder about filing a claim. It is common for people who have been injured in these types of accidents to wonder about the process and how long it might take to resolve their claims. The experienced slip-and-fall accident lawyer at DiCindio Law believes that it is important for you to understand what the process entails so that you will have a better understanding of what to expect.
Getting medical care
You should seek medical care immediately after you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident. Getting treated immediately after your fall can help to prevent your injuries from becoming worse. Early medical care can also help you to start on the path to recovery. If you later decide to file a lawsuit against the property owner or operator, early medical care is critical for demonstrating a link between your accident and injuries. Your medical records after your slip-and-fall accident are crucial pieces of evidence. They help to document the treatment that you have received, the extent and severity of your injuries, and the noneconomic and economic losses that you have suffered.
Getting help to determine liability
Some slip-and-fall accidents are not caused by the negligence of others. Simply falling while you are visiting the property of someone else is not enough to provide a valid basis for a claim. Instead, you will need to show that your accident was caused by the negligent actions of the property’s owner to win a personal injury lawsuit.
Property owners and operators must maintain their property in a relatively safe and hazard-free condition. They must fix or remove hazards that they know about and that could foreseeably cause injuries to customers, guests, or residents. When a hazardous condition causes someone to be injured in a slip-and-fall accident that the property owner either knew existed or reasonably should have known about, the victim might have valid grounds to file a lawsuit against the property owner or operator. An experienced premises liability lawyer at DiCindio Law can help you to determine whether your slip-and-fall accident was caused by negligence.
Consulting with an attorney and drafting a complaint
Once you consult with a lawyer about your potential claim, he or she may agree to accept the case if your claim has legal merit. After exhausting all settlement options, your attorney will then draft a civil complaint that includes the details of your claim. The complaint contains a summary of what happened and includes factual information about the identities of the plaintiff and the property owner, how the accident happened, who is allegedly liable, and the damages that are being sought.
The complaint is the formal legal document that must be filed to initiate your lawsuit. It should be filed in the court that has jurisdiction to hear the case. Once your complaint and summons are filed with the appropriate court, you must serve the documents on the defendant or defendants. The summons will tell the defendants to file their responses to your complaint within 20 days.
Once your complaint and summons have been properly served on the defendants, they will then file their responses. The responses are called answers and will either admit or deny each of the allegations that you have made in your civil complaint. The answers will also list the potential legal defenses that might limit the liability of the defendants.
The discovery phase is the part of a lawsuit that begins after the complaint and answer have been filed. During this part of your lawsuit, you and the defendants will be required to exchange information and evidence with each other. Discovery can include written discovery, interrogatories, and depositions. Your attorney might send requests for the production of certain types of evidence that are relevant to your case. Interrogatories are written lists of questions that you or the defendant may be required to answer under oath. Depositions held outside of court. During a deposition, you, the defendants, and other relevant witnesses may testify under oath and be questioned by the attorneys for both sides. A court reporter will be present, but a judge will not. Transcripts from depositions can be used at trial. Depositions can also provide the lawyers with an idea of how each person might testify and whether they are believable. Discovery can last anywhere from a few months up to several years, depending on the complexity of your case, the court’s schedule, and the length of your medical treatment.
If your case does not settle, both you and the defendants might file pre-trial motions to try to resolve specific issues before you go to trial. The defendant might file a motion for summary judgment if the defense believes that your lawsuit does not have any material facts in dispute to be heard by a jury. If the court grants a motion for summary judgment, your case can be dismissed.
A motion to compel is a motion that can be filed by either the plaintiff or the defendant to ask for a court order to force the other party to do something. This can be used to ask for a court order for the other party to appear for a deposition or produce specific documents.
Motions in limine are motions that can be filed by either party. These motions contain arguments about why the court should keep certain types of evidence out of the trial because of the danger of prejudice. For example, a defendant might file a motion in limine to keep the fact that the liability insurance is sufficient to cover all of the claimed damages because a jury might be likelier to return a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.
Mediation and settlement conferences
The majority of slip-and-fall lawsuits are settled before trial. In many cases, the parties might try to resolve the cases by going through mediation or holding settlement conferences. The parties typically arrange mediation and choose the mediator who will handle the negotiations. Settlement conferences are typically court-ordered.
Mediation or settlement conferences normally occur near the end of discovery. If you can negotiate a settlement through mediation or a settlement conference, you will receive the amount that is agreed to through your settlement negotiations.
If you cannot reach a settlement agreement, your case will go to trial. At your trial, your attorney and the defense lawyer will present evidence and call witnesses. Your attorney will present evidence and witnesses to prove the elements of negligence. The defense lawyer will present evidence and witnesses to refute your claims. Both lawyers will be able to cross-examine the witnesses called by the opposite party.
Once both sides have rested, the case will be given to the jury. The jury will then meet in private to discuss the evidence and reach a decision based on the testimony and evidence. If the jury returns a verdict in your favor, you will receive an award of damages based on the economic and noneconomic losses that you have suffered.
Receiving financial compensation
If the jury returns a verdict in your favor, the defendant will have to pay you the amount that is awarded. However, if the defendant files an appeal, your case can take much longer before you receive what you have been awarded. If an appeal is successful, you might be forced to go through another trial.
Get help from DiCindio Law
Recovering damages following a slip-and-fall accident can take some time. If you believe that your accident was caused by the negligence of the property owner or operator, you should consult with an experienced lawyer at DiCindio Law. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by filling out our online contact form.
The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.