Most people who are injured in slip and fall accidents don’t end up needing to file a lawsuit over it; they make an insurance claim and the guilty party settles with their insurance to avoid this outcome. According to a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, Adamson Ahdoot LLP, sometimes it does become necessary, either because the party responsible refuses to admit fault or they are offering an unfairly low settlement.
When this happens, it can be incredibly stressful, as you need to navigate the complexities of the legal system to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. One of the most important things to know is how long you have to file the suit—because you don’t have an unlimited amount of time.
Injuries from Falling are the Leading Cause of Emergency Room Visits
Did you know that injuries resulting from falling are the leading cause of emergency room visits, and more than ten percent of those are from slip and fall injuries? Here are some other statistics from the National Floor Safety Institute:
- Injuries from falling lead to 8 million ER visits; of those, 1 million are slip and fall injuries
- For most people who fall, fractures are the most serious injury sustained
- Slip and fall injuries are the most common cause of workers’ compensation
- Slip and fall injuries are the top cause of occupational injury for older (55+) workers
- Floors and flooring materials often contribute to falling injuries
- The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from fall injuries
- Slip and fall accidents are the #1 cause of injuries that receive compensation in the trucking industry
Are Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Suits the Same Everywhere?
No, and this is one of the reasons that it can be helpful to hire an experienced attorney to handle your suit. When you file a suit looking for compensation in the event of a slip and fall accident, it is what is known as a personal injury suit.
Different types of lawsuits have different “statutes of limitations.” A statute of limitations is a deadline that must be met if you are filing a lawsuit. Usually, the beginning of this time period is marked by the day of the accident itself, so it’s important to start the process quickly.
If you don’t file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out, you’re out of luck—the courts won’t hear your case at all.
Statutes of limitations for personal injury lawsuits are dependent on the state the accident occurred in. Some states have statutes of limitations as short as one year (like Kentucky), whereas others have statutes of limitations as long as six years for personal injury lawsuits.
Most states, however, give you two or three years to file. You can see the limitations for each state at AllLaw.com.
The Limitation Applies to Filing, Not Settling
Your lawsuit doesn’t have to be resolved before the statute of limitations is up, but it does need to be active. That means that you’ll have to ensure that the right paperwork has been filed by the deadline.
Typically, the first document that needs to be filed is the “complaint,” also called a petition. This document informs the court of some key information about your case: your legal claims, the various parties involved, why the case is under this court’s jurisdiction, and what you want the party at fault to do in response (for example, provide you with compensation).
In addition to notifying the court, this document also informs the defendant (the party you believe to be at fault) of the lawsuit and its legal basis.
This document is extremely important to the case, despite the fact that it seems to be relatively straightforward. It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you with this because using the wrong phrasing might lead to your suit being dismissed out of hand! Yes, the law really is that picky.
The Initial Filing is Just the Beginning
If you think that you’re home-free after the initial filing, think again. There’s an enormous number of other documents you’ll have to deal with, each with their own deadlines.
These include the summons, the service of process, the defendant’s response to the complaint (which may or may not include a counterclaim), your reply to any counterclaim offered by the defendant, and so on.
If there are more than two parties involved, it gets even more complex; there are cross-claims, which can involve additional defendants or plaintiffs, and third-party complaints if the defendant believes someone else is liable.
Getting Professional Legal Advice is a Must
There are so many factors involved in a lawsuit like this that it’s practically a must to have a lawyer. Many attorneys will work on personal injury cases for a percentage after you win—so you won’t have to pay upfront.