If you’ve injured yourself in a slip and fall and are thinking about how to get a settlement to cover damages, you may be wondering what you can do to make it more likely you’ll win. Here are a few things you must do if you want to have a good chance of winning your case.
1: Hire a good attorney
Your choice of legal representation can make or break your case. It will be your lawyer’s job to build your case, present it before the court, and/or possibly negotiate a settlement on your behalf. Therefore it’s important to find an experienced slip and fall attorney with strong negotiation skills and a track record of successful cases.
2: Pursue your case well within the two-year limit
Arizona does set a two-year deadline on slip and fall claims, and other than a few notable exceptions (such as if the accident results in someone’s death or against a government entity, strict deadlines), the clock starts ticking from the minute the accident occurs. This doesn’t mean you can wait until just before the two-year deadline to start pursuing your case, however. If a government entity is involved, there are strict notice requirements, 180 days and a one year limitation to file a lawsuit. It takes time to prepare and take a case to court, so you’ll want to start looking for an attorney as soon as possible following the accident.
3: Show you were there for legitimate reasons
If you were on the property for legitimate reasons, the law holds that it’s the property owner’s duty to make the premises as safe as possible for you. This is not the case if you were trespassing, so it’s important to establish your reason for being on the property.
4: Prove the property owner was negligent
This part can be the hardest, so it’s important to collect evidence as quickly as you can after the accident. Pictures and witnesses are the most decisive when it comes down to establishing a case, but a case can still be made even if you don’t have those. Keep in mind that Arizona slip and fall laws allow for comparative fault, which means that the other side will try to claim you are partly responsible for your accident. A jury will determine a percentage of responsibility for each side, and reduce the amount you’re awarded by the percentage of responsibility you bear. So, for instance, if the jury finds that a business is 75 percent responsible for the ice on their walkway, but you’re 25 percent responsible for not choosing to walk around it, you would only be awarded 75 percent of damages.
5: Show damages
Finally, you’ll need to be able to show that you suffered damages due to the slip and fall injury. These damages focus on medical bills, the nature and extent of injury, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and permanent injury so be sure to collect all of your medical records following your accident. You may also be able to make a case for being reimbursed for lost wages, so be sure to collect all documentation supporting your claim that the injury caused economic damages as well. Finally, you may even be able to make a case for emotional damages, such as pain and suffering, but this is the hardest piece to prove so you will need thorough documentation, a strong case, and a good attorney to see you through.
With slip and fall cases, it’s not uncommon to be offered a small initial settlement right from the start, before you even know the outcome of your injuries. This is why it’s so important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible following your accident. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.