How to File a Fall and Slip Case in DC

By Peter DePaolis

If you fell and got hurt on someone else’s property because they were negligent, you should not have to pay the medical bills. The property owner who was careless should pay instead. They might also have to pay you back for money you lost by missing work while you were hurt.

If you suffered an injury by slipping and falling, you only have a short amount of time to sue the owner of the property for money to cover your injuries or file an insurance claim. If you wait too long, you may not be eligible to get the compensation you need.

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 slip and fall case in DC.

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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. 

4) 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.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.