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Do Most Slip and Fall Cases Settle Out of Court?

August 7, 2023

When a property owner fails to fix a hazard, and as a result you suffer a serious injury, it can be incredibly frustrating. You did nothing wrong, and yet here you are racking up hospital bills, missing work, and wondering how long it might take to get back to normal.

When you’re already feeling frustrated, and trying to get back into your routine, you might wonder if your slip and fall accident is worth a personal injury claim. How long does it take? Will you have to go to court for a lawsuit?

Fortunately, many slip and fall cases avoid the lengthy trial process. While it’s impossible to know how long the case might continue before settling, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. If you suspect an insurance company is sending you a lowball offer, or you feel out of your depth on settlement negotiations, contact Karl Truman Law Office for a free consultation about your case.

RELATED: Should I Get a Lawyer for a Slip and Fall?

Important Facts about Slip and Fall Cases in Indiana and Kentucky

Whether you’re clumsy or very sure-footed, at some point we all stumble on something. However, when that slip and fall results in serious injury, it makes a difference whether you tripped over your untied shoelace or if it was an unmarked curb.

Due to “premises liability,” a property owner has a legal obligation to maintain safe property conditions to prevent people from getting hurt. If the property owner failed to do so, and you got hurt, they may be liable to compensate you for your medical care, lost wages, and other losses.

Each state has its own specific laws for premises liability, although there are broadly many similarities. Most states (including Kentucky and Indiana) classify slip and fall injury victims in one of three “status” categories:

  • Invitee: Someone who is welcomed to a property, such as a social guest or customer of a business.
  • Licensee: Someone who has permission to be on the land but does not directly benefit the landowner. For example, if your neighbor is having their sprinkler system repaired and the repair company needs to access your property to perform the work, they would be licensees.
  • Trespasser: Someone who does not have permission to be on the property.

In general, a property owner has few obligations toward a trespasser. The owner only needs to refrain from willfully injuring trespassers or creating a dangerous environment. For example, you can’t set a trap intentionally meant to harm trespassers. You could also be liable if a trespassing child was injured by an “attractive nuisance” that could draw them onto your property, such as an unguarded and unfenced swimming pool or recreational equipment.

For licensees, the duty of care is greater. The property owner needs to alert the licensee of any potential dangerous that are known.

A property owner owes the highest duty of care to invitees. Simply warning visitors or customers about potential hazards is not enough. The owner must proactively inspect and maintain the property and fix all known issues (poor lighting, ice on sidewalk, slippery floor, etc.) in a timely manner.

Key Differences Between Indiana and Kentucky

Although the laws are broadly similar, there are a few key differences between Indiana and Kentucky when it comes to slip and fall cases:

  • Statute of limitations: In Indiana, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the at-fault party. In Kentucky, you have only one year.
  • Comparative negligence. In both states, you can have your compensation reduced if you were partly at fault for an accident. For example, if you’re found to be 20% responsible, your damage claim will be reduced by 20%. The difference is that, in Kentucky, comparative negligence is “pure” and, even if you’re 99% at fault, you can still recover 1% of your damages. In Indiana, there’s a cutoff at 51%, meaning if you are more than half at fault, you can’t recover anything.

In either state, the insurance company will often try to assign you some blame by saying you had improper footwear, or that you were distracted by your phone at the time of the accident.

RELATED: Slip-and-Fall Accidents and Premises Liability

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Why Do Most Slip and Fall Cases Settle Out of Court?

A big reason (although not necessary a good one) that slip and fall accidents settle out of court is because the victim simply accepts the first offer from the insurance company and does not try to negotiate a better settlement. You should know that insurance companies do everything they can to pay out as little as possible—after all, they don’t make a profit by giving away money. So the first offer is often a lowball settlement offer. They also know that time is money, so the more time they spend on negotiations and court proceedings, the greater their cost.

This gives them an incentive to settle a slip and fall case as quickly as possible, for as little compensation as they can get away with. However, negotiation can get you a higher settlement that better suits the extent of your injuries, even without going to court.

It takes time to build a slip and fall case accident claim. You, or your personal injury lawyer, need to build a case to prove the property owner’s negligence through the following:

  • The property owner (or an employee) had a dangerous condition on the premises,
  • They either knew the dangerous condition existed, or they should have known about it,
  • They did not fix it, and
  • The dangerous condition directly caused the slip and fall accident.

Often, when the facts of the case are fairly clear, it is more likely that the slip and fall settlement will be awarded without stepping foot in a courtroom. A personal injury lawyer may advise you to wait until you have fully recovered, so that the full extent of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering can be awarded.

For slip and fall cases where both parties dispute the facts of the case, it is more likely that the lawsuit goes to court. But even then slip and fall victims should know that their personal injury claim could settle at any time. Negotiations might even be finalized on the courthouse steps.

RELATED: Building a Slip and Fall Accident Claim

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The Benefits of a Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer

Even though slip and fall cases settle out of court in many instances, that doesn’t mean the victim is getting fair compensation. Experienced personal injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve.

The benefit of experience is that a personal injury lawyer is adept at proving negligence of property owners causing hazardous conditions. They can help show that your slip and fall injuries have led to emotional anguish, and therefore you deserve further compensation for pain and suffering.

The insurance company may try use your words or actions against you during the settlement process, like getting photos from social media that show your serious injuries don’t prevent you from having a good time. An experienced lawyer will help you avoid these pitfalls that may reduce your financial compensation.

Further, simply by proving that they’re willing and able to take a case to trial, an experienced trial attorney has more leverage in negotiations and a better chance of getting a fair settlement without need to take the case all the way to the courtroom.

When it’s your word against the word of the property owner, it can be difficult to prove negligence for your slip and fall claim. If you are an injury victim who required medical treatment, call an attorney to help seek compensation for your slip and fall case.

Karl Truman Law Can Help Slip and Fall Cases Settle Out of Court

If you are the victim of a slip and fall accident, you should give our legal team a call. Not only do we have experience in slip and fall accident cases, we also represent your best interests with our integrity and compassion.

We’ll do everything that we can to settle your case without putting you through the stress and uncertainty of a trial. However, we are also experienced trial attorneys who are willing to fight for you at court if that’s the only way to get a fair, reasonable result.

Every slip and fall case is different, which is why we offer you a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your personal injury case. Call 502-222-2222 or fill out our contact form to ask us how you can get a fair settlement offer without going to court.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.