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How Long do Slip and Fall Cases Take?

Getting hurt in an accident is bad enough, but not having a game plan is like adding insult to injury. Victims of slip and fall incidents often file complaints with the help of injury accident attorneys, but they need to understand what they're up against first. Although all incidents and lawsuits vary, this walkthrough might make it easier to anticipate what's to come.

Hiring an Attorney

Hiring a qualified personal injury accident attorney is an essential first step and may require some scrutiny. Different legal professionals may focus on specific aspects of the law. With so many attorneys available, it may be wise to shop around and find someone who has prior experience with litigating slip and fall cases successfully.

There are also deadlines, called statue of limitations, to getting cases filed. New York, for instance, requires that slip and fall victims file their complaints within three years of accidents.

Filing a Complaint

Filing a complaint is the formal process of initiating a lawsuit. The requirements vary by area and court system, they typically include

  • The plaintiff, or the person suing someone else, giving the complaint paperwork to the court, and
  • The plaintiff providing, or serving, a copy of their complaint to the defendant.

On the surface, this may seem like a straightforward matter of completing paperwork. To increase their chances of success, however, plaintiffs and their lawyers usually do extensive research beforehand. For instance, the complaint needs to describe or demonstrate the injuries or financial losses suffered by the plaintiff and show how the defendant caused them.

Complaints also need to confirm that the court in question has the jurisdiction to hear the case. Finally, plaintiffs need to specify what kind of relief they'd like the court to order, such as monetary damages.

The Discovery Phase

Pre-trial discovery is a vital part of any lawsuit. It lets defendants, plaintiffs and their legal representatives collect the information they'll need to go to trial.

During discovery, parties can obtain information that they believe might play a role in their court strategies. The law provides numerous mechanisms to help them do so, such as:

  • Depositions, or sworn testimonies supplied by witnesses in informal settings,
  • Requests for admission where one party demands that another go under oath and either admit or deny an alleged fact, and
  • Interrogatories, or questions generated by one party that the other must answer.

Discovery rules differ, and this can impact case schedules. For instance, federal lawsuit guidelines typically limit interrogatory lists to 25 questions.

Court systems also stick to their own policies to decide how long defendants have to answer questions, and in some cases, parties may try to use stall tactics to stretch things out. Even though most state systems allow more time for discovery than others, it's best to learn about an individual court's particulars before filing there.


Motions are requests where a party asks a court to make a ruling or issue an order, such as a judgment for damages. Motions might occur at various points, such as when a defendant asks the court to dismiss a case after getting served. Plaintiffs can also file motions to make additional complaints after discovering new evidence.

Each party has the right to file motions to compel the other to provide documents or evidence. They can also file motion in limine requests to keep certain evidence out of the trial.

Settlement and Mediation

Some defendants decide to settle out of court because they want to avoid trials or don't think they can argue against the allegations. Such negotiations typically occur after discovery, and they may take quite a while depending on how much the plaintiff asks for and what the defendant is willing to give.