How Many Slip and Fall Cases Go to Trial?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
A slip and fall incident can result in multiple injuries, nearly 31 days of missed work, and lasting health complications. If you’re considering a lawsuit against the party that caused your accident, you may wonder how many slip and fall cases go to trial and what to expect on your legal journey.
Our experienced slip and fall attorneys will thoroughly analyze the details of your accident, using our resources to determine what happened, who is responsible, and whether your case has a chance to go to trial.
Understanding the Legal Elements of Slip and Fall Cases
In slip and fall litigation, you are required to demonstrate four specific legal elements. These criteria are critical in establishing the property owner’s negligence and your damages.
- Duty of care. The first step in a slip and fall case is to determine whether another party had a duty of care toward you at the time of the incident. For example, if you slipped and fell on an improperly maintained sidewalk, you must prove that the business owner or manager had a legal obligation to maintain the area.
In Michigan, property owners have a general duty to provide a safe environment for visitors. This includes customers and those on premises for job-related duties, like utility workers.
- Breach of duty. Once it’s determined which parties owed you a duty of care, you must demonstrate that they failed in this duty. For example, if a retail store owner neglects to salt an icy walkway or repair uneven pavement, creating hazardous conditions for patrons.
- Establishing causation. To prove causation, you need to link your slip and fall and subsequent injuries directly to the property owner or manager’s neglect. This means showing that their lack of a safe environment was the cause of the incident and your injuries.
- Proving damages. You must prove the damages you suffered due to the slip and fall. This can include documentation through photo and video evidence, witness statements, and copies of your medical bills and records. You may also show proof of ongoing treatment, physical therapy, prescriptions, and rehabilitation resulting from the accident.
Types of Evidence Required to Prove a Slip and Fall Case in Court
Your attorney will collect all necessary evidence to prove your slip and fall claim and recover compensation for your injuries. Essential evidence for a successful case includes:
- Video footage. One of the best ways to strengthen your slip and fall case is to obtain a video recording of the incident when it happened. If you fall on a commercial property, you may be able to request a copy of the security camera footage. You can also recover a witness’s footage, such as a smartphone video.
- Photographic evidence. If you have visible injuries after the fall, document them by taking pictures. Take photos of the scene of your fall shortly after the incident to capture signs of environmental hazards. For example, if you slipped on a wet or icy floor with no slippery floor signs, photos can help you prove the dangerous environment and the lack of signage.
- Medical records. Another way to document your injuries is to keep records of the diagnoses, treatment, prescriptions, surgeries, and any other medical operations you need after the fall. They can help you establish a link between your fall and subsequent injuries, proving the severity of the incident.
- Proof of financial loss. If the slip and fall result in your inability to work, documenting related losses can help you establish the impact of the injuries on your life. Keep traces of paperwork such as bills, missed work days, and other financial losses you accrued following your fall.
How Many Slip and Fall Cases Go to Trial?
Surprisingly, very few slip and fall cases go to trial. A 2015 study found that just 1% of all tort cases, which include slip and falls, are resolved through a summary judgment, with another 3% concluding through adjudicated disposition (judgment decided by the court, a judge, or an arbitrator).
Most slip and fall claims are resolved outside the courtroom due to the following reasons:
- Lack of evidence. Proving essential elements such as duty, breach, causation, and damages is difficult. Cases lacking strong evidence often get dismissed before trial, with 39% of tort cases never reaching that stage.
- Settlements. Many parties prefer to settle out of court to avoid the unpredictability and expense of a trial, leading to a mutual agreement between the involved parties. 32% of tort cases are settled outside of court before litigation during the insurance process or through a mediator rather than a judge and jury.
- Legal expenses. The expenses associated with litigation often discourage parties, who may opt for a more cost-effective out-of-court settlement instead of enduring a protracted trial.
- Time constraints. Trials can be lengthy and time-consuming. Parties often prefer a quicker resolution through settlements or mediation to avoid the drawn-out process of a trial.
What Does the Trial Process Look Like for Slip and Fall Claims?
Understanding the legal process is crucial in navigating a slip and fall case. If your case proceeds to trial, you typically follow these steps:
- Filing of complaint and answer. The process begins when you file a complaint outlining the incident and damages. The defendant then responds with an answer, admitting or denying the claims.
- Discovery phase. Both parties exchange evidence and information during the discovery phase. This includes witness statements, medical records, and other relevant documentation, which must be disclosed within 14 days of the defendant’s answer to the initial motion.
- Pre-trial motions. Before the trial, parties may file motions to resolve specific issues, including requests to exclude certain evidence or dismiss the case.
- Jury selection. In jury trials, the selection process entails questioning candidates to assemble an unbiased jury panel.
- Opening statements. Both parties present their opening statements, outlining their case to the judge or jury.
- Presentation of evidence. Both parties present evidence to bolster their claims or defenses, including witness testimonies, expert opinions, photos, and reports.
- Closing arguments. Following the presentation of evidence, each side delivers closing arguments, recapping their case, and advocating for a particular verdict from the jury or judge.
- Jury deliberation and verdict. The jury then deliberates and ultimately delivers a verdict. If found in favor of the plaintiff, they will determine and award damages according to the jury instructions.
- Post-trial motions and appeals. Depending on the outcome, parties may file motions to challenge or alter the verdict or appeal the decision to a higher court.
Our slip and fall attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can represent your interests, helping you achieve a favorable outcome at trial. We have years of trial experience in Michigan and know what it takes to win.
Pros and Cons of Taking Your Case to Trial
Taking a slip and fall case to court has various advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a brief overview of the potential benefits and drawbacks of litigation:
|Potential for Higher Compensation
|A successful trial can result in higher compensation than an out-of-court settlement.
|Trials can be risky; if you lose, you might receive no compensation at all.
|Finality of Verdict
|A trial verdict is final, providing closure and potentially limiting future legal actions.
|Even after a trial, appeals can prolong the case, delaying closure.
|Trials are public, bringing attention to the case and potentially influencing broader change.
|The public nature of trials can lead to unwanted attention and stress.
|Time and Expense
|A trial provides a structured, formal resolution process with legal oversight.
|Trials can be time-consuming and expensive, draining resources.
|Uncertainty of Outcome
|The trial process allows for thoroughly examining all evidence and arguments, potentially revealing new aspects of the case.
|The outcome of a trial is unpredictable, and there’s always a risk of an unfavorable verdict, regardless of the case’s strength.
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Slip and Fall Case
If you’re deliberating over pursuing a slip and fall case in court, consult with our experienced attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. We’ll safeguard your rights and help you with the claims process, aiming for the maximum settlement, in or out of court. Here’s how we can assist:
- Comprehensive case review. Our legal team will scrutinize every detail of your case, from inspecting the incident location to understanding the fall’s context and assessing trial prospects. This thorough approach strengthens your case for either settlement or trial.
- Evidence gathering. Our team will gather and organize evidence to prove your case. This includes collecting medical records, eyewitness statements, and surveillance footage. We can work with experts to reconstruct the incident and gain insights into how the slip and fall occurred to establish duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Senior partner and registered nurse Eileen Kroll will review your medical records to gauge the severity of your injuries. Eileen can leverage her expertise to assess treatment needs and accurately determine compensation.
- Negotiation. Our attorneys actively negotiate with insurers and opposing parties to achieve a settlement that covers your injuries and losses. We customize our approach to each case, striving for the optimal outcome without going to trial.
- Thorough trial preparation. If your case proceeds to trial, our attorneys thoroughly prepare for litigation. This includes crafting a persuasive legal argument, preparing witnesses for testimony, clearly presenting the facts, and ensuring all aspects of your case are classroom-ready.
- Skilled courtroom representation. Our legal team offers skilled courtroom representation and is experienced in persuasively arguing cases, presenting evidence, and tackling legal challenges in real time. We aim for favorable outcomes that allow for your recovery and rebuilding post-accident.
Get a Fair Evaluation of Your Slip and Fall Case
While many slip and fall cases are settled outside of court, some may proceed to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached. If you’ve suffered from a slip and fall due to property owner negligence, contact us today for a free case review, learn how many slip and fall cases like yours go to trial, and explore your next legal steps.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.