If you are involved in a slip and fall accident, it’s helpful to know the timeline for bringing a lawsuit against liable parties. Depending on the complexity of your case, a slip and fall case could last several months or several years.
There are a number of steps in a slip and fall case.
1. The Complaint
The “complaint” is the official legal term for the document that states your case. It explains what happened and why. It names the parties. It declares who the plaintiff believes is responsible, and what the plaintiff wants in redress from the defendant. Your slip and fall lawyer will draw up the complaint, using information you supply.
After the complaint is completed, it must be filed in court. It is also served to the defendant. “Served” means delivered.
2. The Answer
A summons to the defendant requiring the defendant to officially respond to the complaint is served when the complaint is filed.
The response must be made within a specific time period (often 20 working days).
The response is legally termed the “Answer”. The Answer must either agree or disagree with each point of the Complaint. It may also specify that the defendant does not have sufficient information on a point.
An Answer can contain the grounds for a defense. It may, for example, state that the defendant did not know about the condition that caused the slip and fall. To prove negligence, slip and fall lawsuits must prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the condition.
Discovery is a stage of every legal case. It is where information is obtained about the case. Attorneys can discover information by asking written questions that must be answered under oath. These are termed “interrogatories.” They can also discover via requesting material things and documents. These are termed “requests for production.”
Discovery phases are one of the most elastic in a court case. The time discovery takes depends very much on what is asked for, how much, when it is received, and the schedule of the court. It can take three months to several years.
4. Pre-Trial Motions
Not all cases involve pre-trial motions, but they can. The most common are Motion to Dismiss, which asks the case to be dismissed on the grounds of a legal technicality, and Motion to Compel, which asks the court to require something that a party to the suit has not moved to do. Motions can add time to a case.
One type of motion, a Summary Judgement, alleges that there are no facts to support the case. If granted, a case cannot go forward. This can shorten the case.
5. Settlement Conferences and Mediation
As the Discovery phase nears its end, either the parties or a judge may request a mediation (the parties) or a settlement conference (a judge). This typically happens if the facts are not really in dispute and the parties simply need to agree on damages.
If there is no settlement conference or mediation, the case is set on a schedule once Discovery is over. A docket number will be given.
Slip and fall trials usually take from two to three days.
7. Judgement Collection
Collection is not immediate. A defendant has from 30 to 60 days to settle a judgement.
Experienced Slip and Fall Attorneys in Southern California
Slip and fall accidents can be complicated to prove. The Salamati Law Firm has an exceptional record of obtaining justice for their clients in slip and fall cases in the Los Angeles area.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, call us today. We will provide a complimentary consultation. If we take your case, you owe us nothing up front. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount.
Additional “slip and fall lawsuit timeline” resources:
- National Safety Council. Slips, Trips and Falls. http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Slips-Trips-and-Falls.pdf
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Home and Recreational Safety. Older Adult Falls. Important Facts About Falls. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html