Slip and fall cases are arguably the most difficult of all personal injury cases to negotiate and litigate. It is important to find a competent attorney who will expertly build your case before essential evidence and witnesses disappear.
Hallmark of Knowledgeable Counsel
The first sign that you are talking to a good attorney who has handled slip and fall cases before is that your free consultation will feel a bit like an interrogation. You might be asked questions similar to the following:
- Where did you fall specifically on the premises?
- How long were you on the premises before you fell?
- Had you visited the premises prior to the day you fell?
- Had you walked past the spot where you fell before?
- Did you fall as a result of an unknown substance on the floor/ground or due to a crack or defect in the flooring/ground?
- Were there any other individuals present when you fell?
- Did you collect any witness names or contact information?
- Did any present employees or property owners approach you and ask if you needed medical attention?
The answers to these questions allow your Orange County slip and fall attorney to give you an accurate assessment of your case before engaging in costly and time-consuming litigation. New or inexperienced lawyers frequently make the mistake of treating injured clients with kid gloves, sympathizing with your pain and only providing positive feedback. An experienced attorney will identify the facts you provide that help or hurt your case and explain the potential impact in an easy to understand way.
Not all slip and fall cases are the same. For example, there are distinct and different issues for someone who tripped and fell over cracked pavement in front of a neighbor’s house versus someone who slipped on water in a grocery store aisle.
If you were injured in a public place like a store or an office building your personal injury case will quickly become complicated. Nowadays multiple corporate entities will be involved in the course of your personal injury case. One entity might own the land, one entity could own the building, another might own the business operating there, and yet another could be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the exterior or interior of the property. Slip and fall cases can quickly turn into people pointing the fingers at other entities, while refusing to share evidence or even refusing to provide insurance information.
It is important to have an experienced attorney who has litigated many slip and fall cases. However, even the best of attorneys may not be able to resolve a slip and fall claim without litigation. Expect that your case will require a great deal of patience on your part and expect that most likely, your case will not be resolved without litigation.
Time to Resolve
Slip and fall cases can take a long time to navigate due to the competing interests of all parties involved. Few slip and fall cases resolve within even a year or two. The first step in your personal injury case is for you to receive the majority of your medical treatment which could take anywhere from 6 to 18 months for the best case scenario. The average slip and fall injury often requires physical therapy and could include a surgical procedure. Once your doctors have treated you and know the full extent of your injuries, only then can your personal injury attorney make a demand to the appropriate parties.
In a personal injury case, your attorney bears the burden of proving that you slipped and fell as a result of the negligence of someone else. Negligence in this context means that someone did something wrong, or failed to do something they were supposed to do. For slip and fall cases, often it is the failure of the property owner to repair the property or a business has failed to quickly enough clean up spills or debris from where you were walking.
The reason why many slip and fall cases go into litigation is over whether the entity in charge of maintaining the premises knew or should have known that something on the premises was a slip and fall hazard. This part of your case cannot be proven by your testimony alone. Your attorney will try to find evidence that the premises owner or operator knew about the problem before you slipped and fell. The only way for your attorney to get this evidence is through filing a lawsuit and engaging in written discovery.
What is written discovery? Under the laws of California, your attorney can send a limited number of requests called Interrogatories, Requests for Admissions, and Requests for Production of Documents. Your attorney can also subpoena representatives from the various parties involved to testify live in front of a court reporter. Everything they say is recorded, transcribed, and sealed for use at trial.
A good attorney will send a moderate number of initial requests to gauge the responsiveness of the parties and see what documents and information are sent back in response. The party receiving the requests can object to any of the questions or respond fully. Once your attorney receives the responses, additional requests may need to be sent. Sometimes in highly contested cases the judge will have to intervene and tell the parties to turn over documents or information against the parties’ objections.
As you can imagine, this process can take time. A good attorney will keep you informed of the developments in your case but you might not have any movement in your case every month.
At Russell & Lazarus, our experienced attorneys will be able to present to you your options for pursuing your slip and fall personal injury claim. We can give you helpful insights about your case even if you do not hire us to represent you. As always, any documents and information shared in your free consultation will be kept confidential and will not be shared with any third parties without your consent.