Personal injury lawsuits are often unpredictable. Typically, the more complex a case is, the longer it will take to resolve. Sometimes, seemingly simple cases end up having complicated facts or evidence, which makes the case take longer. There are multiple parts in the process of filing a slip and fall case that have set deadlines, so some of this is predictable. If you are considering filing a slip and fall lawsuit, it’s important to understand how long your case could take. The Dallas slip and fall lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., explain how long a slip and fall case can take in Texas.
How Long Does an Injury Case Last in Texas?
The first time factor when suing for premises liability injuries on someone else's property is the statute of limitations. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003(a) gives injured victims 2 years to file their case. This means that, from the date of injury, you have up to 2 years to start your case. During this time, you should document your injuries, contact a lawyer, and discuss filing your case. Once your case is filed, the flow of time is mostly out of your control.
When your lawyer files the case, they will file an initial “complaint” with the court. This complaint needs to be served on the defendant within a quick time period. Once the defendant is served, they have usually around 20 days to file their “answer” to the complaint. Defendants may be able to ask for an extension if the facts are too complicated or they need more time, but courts may refuse extensions.
After this, the case moves on to the “discovery” phase. During this time, both parties exchange evidence and information about the case facts. Your lawyer may send “interrogatories” with questions, or requests that a witness or the defendant come in for a deposition, and requests to turn over documents, pictures, or video. Every piece of evidence requires time to review it and see how it fits into the case.
In addition, each side will need time to respond to interrogatories or schedule depositions. Because of this, discovery can take months. In a more complex case, discovery can even take years. Most slip and fall cases have relatively straightforward facts, so the biggest delays in discovery would likely be due to depositions and medical evidence.
Once discovery is complete, both sides may make motions to end the case right away. Your attorney may file a “motion for summary judgment,” which argues that there is no question as to the facts of the case and asks the judge to rule in your favor right away. On the other side, the defense may file a “motion to dismiss,” claiming there’s no way you could win with the facts alleged, and that the case should be dismissed. There are other motions that may be used to force one side to turn over evidence, appear at a deposition, or do something else they’re required to do. Still other motions may deal with admitting or blocking evidence before the jury ever sees it.
Lastly is the actual trial. Most trials for personal injury cases take only a couple days. After all this preparation, some trials may take 1-2 days – but some will take a full week if the facts are complex. Once the trial is over, the jury takes some time to deliberate before ruling. If you win your case, the other side must turn over the damages within a reasonable time, which should usually not extend beyond a couple months.
How Long do Settlements and Insurance Claims Take for Slip and Fall Cases?
In many slip and fall cases, an insurance company will handle the defendant’s side of the case. Either homeowner’s insurance or liability insurance (for businesses) may cover the costs and provide the defendant with a lawyer. Insurance companies may be willing to settle some cases, but they may fight others to the end of trial.
If you are able to reach a settlement that covers all of your needs, your attorney may advise you to settle your case. When a case is settled, both sides agree to stop arguing the facts of the case in exchange for paying damages now. This means that the case doesn’t get decided by a judge or jury, but by the parties. A case can settle at any point in the process, but usually settles some time after the initial pleadings (complaint and answer). This may speed up the case if the settlement occurs early in the case. If the defense waits until trial to settle, you may still need to wait through months of discovery and motions before completing your case.
Dallas Slip and Fall Victim Lawyers
The Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm represent victims of slip and falls and other accidents. For a free consultation on your case, and to understand how long your claim might take, contact our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.