Should You Settle Your Trip & Fall Lawsuit?
Only you can decide whether to settle your trip and fall case or have the dispute resolved in a court of law. The law allows victims of trip and falls to collect money (known as damages) to compensate for injury-related expenses. Many injury victims want to settle quickly, but others choose to let a judge or jury award damages. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.
Types of Compensation for Trip and Falls
State personal injury laws allow accident and injury victims to collect damages from the person or party responsible for their injuries. Damages can compensate slip and fall victims for:
- Past, present, and future medical bills for treatment related to your slip and fall accident
- The repair or replacement of any property (such as clothing or eyeglasses) that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
- Lost wages for time off from work (including time spent going to doctor's appointments and physical therapy)
- The cost of hiring someone to do household chores that you're unable to do because of your injury
- Permanent disability and disfigurement stemming from your trip and fall accident
- Emotional distress stemming from the accident
- Any other costs you've incurred because of the accident
Before talking to the property owner or their insurance company, speak to an experienced slip and fall attorney. A lawyer can help you better understand slip and fall liability, negotiate with the party at fault, and represent you in court, if necessary.
Evaluating a Trip and Fall Settlement Offer
Your slip and fall attorney can also help you negotiate a reasonable trip and fall settlement with the property owner or his or her insurance company. Once you've received a settlement offer, your lawyer can help you decide whether to accept the settlement or go to trial. It's important to remember that each choice has its pros and cons.
Accepting a Slip and Fall Settlement
- Pros: Resolves your slip and fall case more quickly than trial; some or all of the settlement money is available immediately; you can pay off accident-related bills more quickly than if you go to trial; you can get emotional closure more quickly and start to move on after the accident; your attorney's fees and expenses may be lower; you have the certainty of knowing how much money you'll receive; settlement agreements can remain confidential
- Cons: In exchange for quickly resolving your case, you may have to accept a smaller award than if you go to trial
Going to Trial
- Pros: You may feel emotional satisfaction over having won the case; there's a chance you'll receive a larger award than if you settled the case
- Cons: There is no guarantee that you'll win your case or receive a larger award than if you settled; attorney's fees and expenses may be higher than if you settled; the verdict and judgment will be publicly available; going to trial can take a year or more
Only you, the trip and fall accident victim, can decide whether to settle your case or go to trial. However, an experienced lawyer may have handled hundreds or thousands of trip and falls, and will have a realistic understanding of whether the settlement offer is fair, or if you could do better by going to trial. Take your attorney's advice under careful consideration before making a decision.