“Do most slip and fall cases settle out of court?” The answer is yes. According to 2022 data from Michigan Courts, the majority of non-auto personal injury cases, such as slip and fall, led to settlements. This fact is unsurprising, as most civil cases are settled through mutual agreement instead of going through a long and tedious court trial.
Imagine you went to the bathroom in a store and slipped, injuring your hips. You could seek compensation by filing a slip and fall lawsuit against the store owner. Premises liability law holds property owners accountable for injuries suffered on their property. Under this doctrine, owners have the duty to keep their property’s conditions safe. It may appear simple, but slip and fall lawsuits can become complicated. Many Michigan legal doctrines and other factors could influence your case. Hence, our slip and fall attorney will discuss settlement benefits and potential success factors in this article.
The Importance of Settlements in Slip and Fall Cases
Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) may make you think twice about going to trial and instead settle a premises liability case out of court. Here are some of the notable points:
- A plaintiff’s chances of winning a premises liability case are less than 50%.
- 33% of plaintiff winners in premises liability cases have their compensatory awards reduced due to Michigan’s “comparative negligence” doctrine.
- The average award reduction is relatively high, at about 42%.
- The average duration of a premises liability case is at least 22 months.
Due to these and other challenges, settlement is often the most common and favorable route. For many, the benefits of settling can outweigh the hassle, costs, and effort of going through a lengthy trial. Here are some of the benefits:
- Prevents an unfavorable or unpredictable verdict
- Parties can agree on terms that are beneficial to both
- Compensation is guaranteed, the sum is predetermined, and the time frame is set
- Less expensive and stressful process
Factors Affecting Settlements in Slip and Fall Cases
Several factors could influence slip and fall settlements. Here are a few of them:
Michigan’s “open and obvious” and “comparative negligence” doctrines make premises liability cases difficult to win. If the risk of injury is “open and obvious” and the victim fails to take precautions, the property owner may be exempt from liability. Meanwhile, Michigan’s “comparative negligence” determines which party is most negligent.
Both doctrines are strong defenses in slip-and-fall cases. Thus, if you were also at fault for the accident, a settlement may be preferable to having your case dismissed without any compensation.
Strength of Evidence
In premises liability cases, proving fault can be difficult if you’re unprepared. If you slip on a wet floor in a restroom, the owner will likely clean it after you leave. Therefore, if you haven’t taken any pictures, you’ll lose a crucial piece of evidence. You also need credible witnesses to the accident and documentation of your injuries.
Proving Direct Causation
It is your responsibility to prove your injury’s direct causation to the property owner’s negligence in maintaining a safe environment.
Attitudes of Parties
The defendant will do everything in their power to prove in court that they fulfilled their duty to warn of the danger or that it was an “open and obvious” condition. When it is clear that the other party is determined to win or is unwilling to participate in a trial, a settlement may be the less stressful option.
Insurance companies are another potential stumbling block in a slip and fall settlement case. Insurers will likely try to lowball you and keep you from getting a fair settlement. Hence, your best ally in dealing with insurance companies is a skilled Muskegon slip and fall lawyer.
The Role of a Slip and Fall Lawyer in Settlements
Slip and fall lawsuits are often a tedious battle over who can prove fault. For this and other reasons, many victims prefer a settlement. However, even reaching an agreement can be difficult.
Many parties are eager to downplay your case, so you get the short end of the stick. For one thing, insurance agents are good at convincing you that you don’t deserve compensation. These cases require a skilled local personal injury lawyer who can help:
- Use evidence to negotiate higher settlements
- Use leverage to intimidate the other party with a trial that will almost certainly be favorable to the victim
- Study the defendant’s insurance policy to see how much you are legally liable to receive.
- Convince the insurance company representative that their client is at fault and that they must pay the appropriate compensation
- Calculate and present your personal injury claim’s worth, both economic and non-economic, to negotiate a better deal
- Use a “fair objective” strategy to convince the other party to agree to the same fair and reasonable standards
At Nolan & Shafer, our slip and fall lawyers have years of experience in settlements and negotiations. Trust us with your settlement—we’ll get you what you deserve. Contact us here or call (231) 722-2444 for an appointment.