If you fell and got hurt on someone else’s property due to the owner’s negligence, you should not have to pay those medical bills instead of the careless party who caused you to get injured. Also, the at-fault party could have to pay your lost wages. You will not have much time to file a lawsuit seeking money damages from the owner. If you miss the deadline, DC law will forever bar you from seeking compensation for your injuries.
You will want to talk to a District of Columbia personal injury attorney to protect your right to pursue a claim for your losses. The lawyer can worry about things like deadlines while you get to focus on getting better. Here is some information on how to file a fall and slip case in DC.
The First Steps After a Slip and Fall Accident
After you talk to a personal injury lawyer, the attorney will investigate the accident, review the medical records from your wound treatment, look at any additional documentation like an incident report filed with the store or business where the fall happened, and talk to witnesses. Your lawyer will evaluate how your injuries might affect your life going forward, including residual impairment.
The attorney will then calculate the range of a fair settlement for your claim and send a demand letter to the liability insurance company of the property owner. Sometimes, the insurance carrier will make a reasonable settlement offer based on the demand letter and other information your attorney provides. It might take several rounds of negotiation back-and-forth to reach favorable settlement terms. If the case does not settle, the attorney can file a slip and fall personal injury lawsuit in the local courthouse.
Filing the Lawsuit
Your lawyer will have to draft several different documents, including a petition, to file the lawsuit. The petition will explain to the court how the accident happened, the defendant’s negligence, and a prayer for money damages. The defendant will get personally served with the court papers and have to respond within the required number of days.
What Happens During the Pre-trial Phase
The defendant files an answer or motions, and then the pre-trial phase begins. Both sides try to learn as much information about the other as possible through a process called discovery. During discovery, the parties can send each other written questions called interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, and other items. Usually, depositions happen during the pre-trial phase.
There will likely be several court appearances to argue motions that the attorneys file. Also, the court will schedule status conferences and settlement conferences in an attempt to resolve the case. Even if the case does not settle at these conferences, the parties can often resolve some of the contested matters, thereby streamlining the trial of the case.
Trial and Thereafter
Eventually, the case will get set on a trial docket and heard by a judge, usually with a jury in the courtroom. The jury will deliberate in a separate room at the end of the trial and reach a verdict on who will win and how much money the defendant has to pay the plaintiff if the plaintiff wins.
It can take hundreds of hours to get a case ready for trial. Filing a lawsuit and taking the case to trial is not a job for amateurs. A District of Columbia personal injury lawyer can fight your battles for you to get all the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today for a free consultation.