Are you the victim of a slip and fall accident in Colorado? Are you wondering if a trial date is in your future? In reality, most slip and fall cases do not go to trial. If you’re a victim, understanding how often cases go to trial can help you prepare for what’s ahead. Our Colorado slip and fall attorneys explain.
What Steps Are Available To Help Parties Reach a Slip and Fall Settlement?
Less than 1% of slip and fall cases go to trial. Almost all slip and fall cases resolve either by a negotiated agreement between the parties or a summary ruling by the court. Ultimately, a victim may choose whether to extend a settlement offer or reject an offer made by the other party.
In the course of a slip and fall accident, settlements are facilitated in a number of ways. There are several stages in which the parties can negotiate a settlement:
- Demand letters – A victim may write a formal letter stating the compensation they’re looking for and the facts that support the claim.
- Informal negotiations – Either party may contact the other to discuss a resolution. There’s no set timeline for informal negotiations. If a party has an attorney, communication must go through the attorney.
- Formal settlement offers – A party may send a written offer letter to the other party asking to resolve the case on specific terms.
- Mediation – The parties can mediate the case through a neutral third party trained to facilitate resolutions. The court may require participating in mediation after the evidence-gathering period.
- Final settlement conference – The court may make one last effort to resolve the case with the judge’s involvement immediately before trial.
Ultimately, these settlement opportunities end up producing a settlement in most cases.
Factors That Make a Slip and Fall Case Go to Trial
Various factors that may make a slip and fall case more likely to go trial include:
- Poor preservation of evidence – There may be witnesses to the dangerous condition on the property. Surveillance video may exist that can show the fall. However, this evidence must be identified and preserved. Failing to work quickly to preserve evidence can create gray areas that push a case to trial.
- Questions of ownership – The first step in a slip and fall case is showing that the other party is responsible for the property’s condition. If there are questions of who is responsible for the property, the defense may want to try the case. A victim can overcome questions of ownership with diligent research and evidence-gathering to provide this element of the case.
- Factual questions about fault – A defendant must pay for a slip and fall only if they are legally at fault for the accident. There are specific definitions of legal fault, and the question of fault may be a complex one. When there are valid questions of fault, a party may be more likely to want to try a case.
- Causation questions – In a slip and fall case, the defense is responsible for the victim’s injuries. To qualify for compensation, the injuries must be the result of the slip and fall accident. The extent of medical damages can significantly impact the ultimate value for a victim. When the defense wants to dispute that the injuries arose from the accident, it can push a case closer to trial.
- Third-party fault – Some claims involve more than one defendant. When multiple parties may be liable, they may point the finger at each other.
- Disputed legal issues – A case may come with a unique fact pattern that raises the question of how to interpret the law. The circumstances of the case may be a first impression or a situation that has never happened before. If reasonable minds can differ on the outcome of a legal issue, it may push a case to trial. A party must identify legal issues and prepare a strategy to respond to legal challenges.
Early involvement of a slip and fall attorney can help a victim avoid the gaps and pitfalls that can make a case more likely to go to trial.
How Do I Get a Settlement in My Slip and Fall Case?
For many slip and fall victims, the thought of taking the case to trial gives them an immediate anxiety attack. They may not want to take the stand, answer questions and be subject to tough cross-examination. A slip and fall victim may wonder, how can I get my slip and fall case to settle?
To get a settlement in your slip and fall case, diligently build a strong case. The goal is to reveal and demonstrate the true value of the claim. With solid evidence, it’s harder for the other side to dispute the strength of the legal case and the amount that the case is worth.
Building a Solid Case
The goal in building a strong case is twofold—first, the victim must be prepared to present their case at trial. The victim has the burden of proof and must show evidence of each element of the case. In the event that the case goes to trial, the victim must be prepared.
Second, building strong evidence puts the victim in the right place to negotiate a settlement. If the defense knows that the plaintiff is likely to succeed at trial, they may realize that it is in their best interests to resolve the case without a trial. If the defense knows that the victim is unprepared, they will surely try to take advantage of the situation and ask for their day in court. However, when they know that the victim has done their homework, they’re more likely to understand that it’s best to settle the case.
Attorneys for Settlement a Slip and Fall Cases
Most slip and fall cases reach a settlement. Our attorneys can help you understand if it’s most appropriate to take your slip and fall case to trial or accept a settlement. In all cases, we work diligently to build a strong case and put you in a strong position to resolve your case for the most favorable amount possible. Contact our slip and fall attorneys today for a free consultation.