The consequences of a severe fall can impact a victim physically, emotionally, and financially for years to come. If you got hurt in a slip and fall and struggle to receive a fair payout from an insurer, you might have to file a lawsuit to recover what you deserve. However, the time for filing a lawsuit is generally limited.
How long you can sue after a slip and fall will depend on the laws in your state and your case’s facts. Consider seeking legal help as soon as possible after your fall, as missing the deadline could prevent you from recovering awards for your medical bills and other damages. Our experienced slip and fall lawyers can advise you and ensure to file your case on time. Contact us today to find out more.
Should You File a Lawsuit After a Slip and Fall?
Most victims of slips and falls receive their settlements from an insurance company. However, some insurance companies refuse claims right away, hoping claimants will go away. Others minimize a claim or unreasonably delay a fair payout. In most of these instances, time is ticking away until victims get closer and closer to the deadline for filing a lawsuit, particularly in states with short timeframes for filing personal injury cases.
Filing a lawsuit before the deadline runs out while still negotiating with an insurance company can be a good idea and provide you with leverage. Filing a suit could also provide motivation for an insurer to settle for a fair payout and give you an option to fall back on when the insurance refuses to settle.
Time Available to Sue After a Slip and Fall
Your state’s statute of limitations generally determines the time you have available for filing a lawsuit. Each state has a different deadline. While in some states, slip and fall victims have only one year to file their case, in others, they could have up to six years to get their personal injury lawsuit started.
Knowing Your State’s Deadline
Knowing your state’s statute of limitations is crucial as you risk having your case thrown out when filing a claim after the statute of limitations has passed. Most victims consider filing a lawsuit only after they are unable to recover a fair settlement from an insurance company. However, consider that insurance companies can take months to assess your claim, and the statute of limitations in your state could be as short as a year or two.
The Time Limits Apply to Filing a Claim Only
It is important to note that the statutes merely issue a deadline for filing your lawsuit but not for settling the claim. Therefore, you may want to file a lawsuit even if you are in the middle of settlement negotiations with an insurance company. You would then still have the option of pursuing justice in court if the other side does not agree to a fair settlement. Letting the deadline pass means you are generally out of legal options. If you are not sure about your next best steps, consider consulting with our slip and fall lawyers, who can protect your legal rights.
Other Factors Determining the Timing of a Lawsuit
There can be factors that could shorten or lengthen the time available for filing a lawsuit. For instance, if you have a case against the government or you were too badly injured to file a lawsuit, timeframes could vary.
Suing the Government
In many states, claimants must first file a “notice to sue” with the government entity before they are able to file a lawsuit. The timeline for this notice can be as short as 30 or 60 days, depending on where you live.
Being Too Incapacitated to File a Lawsuit
If the injured individual suffered a severe brain injury, they might be mentally incapacitated and unable to file a lawsuit. In these circumstances, the running of the clock could be stopped.
The Defendant Left the State
If the defendant moves into another state or abroad after the incident, their time of absence may not count towards the statute of limitations.
The Discovery Rule
In some states, the "discovery rule" can extend the deadline for filing a lawsuit. The time then only starts running from the day when the injured person knew (or should have known) that they suffered an injury. For example, if the victim was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury weeks or months after a slip and fall, the statute might start running down from the day of the diagnosis.
Consider Seeking Legal Advice as Soon as Possible
Depending on the facts of your case, you might have to act quickly after getting injured or risk losing your rights to compensation. If you suffered severe injuries in a slip and fall, consider seeking legal advice as soon as possible. Every slip and fall case is unique, and several factors could come into play when determining how long you have for filing a lawsuit.
Morgan & Morgan knows how to deal with insurance companies and fight for what you need and deserve. Our lawyers could help you receive a fair settlement. Moreover, our seasoned personal injury attorneys can protect your rights throughout the legal process and ensure to keep your options open, which could include filing a lawsuit before your state’s deadline.
What Qualifies as a Slip and Fall?
Not every accident results in a slip and fall legal case. However, you could have a claim if your slip and fall accident happened due to a dangerous condition on another’s property. Property owners must keep their premises free of hazards and dangers to the general public and customers. If a property owner knew of a hazard or should have known, and failed to remove it, they could be liable for your damages.
Common Locations of Slips and Falls
Slips and falls can happen in many locations, including on public and private premises. However, some places have more hazards than others. Grocery stores and restaurants, for example, can cause falls due to frequent food spillages and slippery floors. Slips and falls can also occur in:
- Hotels and motels
- Shopping malls and retail stores
- Nursing homes
- Theme parks and fairs
- Construction sites
- Parking garages and parking lots
Causes of Slips and Falls
A property owner should maintain their premises adequately, including any inside areas and outside walkways. Not doing so could render them liable for a victim’s damages in the event of an accident. While there could be a multitude of causes of slips and falls, some of the most common include:
- Wet and slippery floors
- Debris on floors
- Cluttered areas
- Cracked sidewalks
- Inadequate or broken lighting
- Missing steps or broken handrails
- Loose floorboards
- Ice and snow accumulations on walkways
Slip and Fall Injuries
Falls can cause severe injuries, particularly in older individuals. Recovering from a slip-and-fall injury can require considerable medical and rehabilitation therapies.
The victim could suffer a permanent disability or even die in a nasty fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults can be so severely impacted by a fall that their injuries could prevent them from living independently. Common slip and fall injuries can include, among others:
- Cuts and abrasions
- Head injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Hip and other bone fractures
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Broken knees
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Soft tissue injuries such as tears and sprains
Slips and falls, as well as impacting a victim’s health, can also be financially devastating and cause sky-high medical bills. If you or a loved one suffered severe injuries in a fall, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other damages. Our determined slip and fall attorneys can advise you on whether you can still sue the responsible party and help you move forward with a claim.