The time it takes to resolve a trip and fall lawsuit can run for months to years — it all depends on how cooperative or obstructive the opposing party (usually an insurance company) is. Compensation for a trip and fall suit is not paid out until the case is resolved either by settlement or litigation. A lawsuit can settle during the dispute, pre-litigation, pretrial, or even right before a trial is slated to commence.
Beginning the Case
A trip and fall case starts when a person is injured because the clock to file a lawsuit begins ticking. This is called the statute of limitations (SOL). The SOL in Nevada is two years from the date the injured person is aware or should have been aware of their injury. Therefore, for a trip and fall case, the clock starts the moment the party is injured.
The injured party should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will review the case: medical report, police report, photographs, and other evidence to draft an initial demand. The demand outlines the facts and evidence, summarizes the legal claims, and demands a specific settlement amount to avoid trial.
At this point, the opposing party can choose to settle the case — or, if they dispute the demand, they can advance the case to litigation. Litigation is the legal process. It is commenced by filing a complaint that summarizes facts and allegations that the plaintiff intends to prove with testimony and evidence.
The defendant files an answer to the complaint. The answer contains specific or general denials of the facts, and can also admit facts that aren’t in contention. For example, the defendant may concede the spelling of their name, that they own a particular vehicle or lease a particular place, etc. After the initial motions, the parties proceed to discovery.
Discovery is the procedure by which the parties exchange evidence. The parties exchange documents, witnesses, take testimony, and ask questions to prove their claims or defenses. For example, the plaintiff may depose a security guard to confirm that the casino was aware of a puddle but didn’t clean it up or place warnings.
After discovery, the parties exchange pretrial motions. For example, motions for summary judgment arguing that there is insufficient evidence for all or some of the claims. Finally, the case goes to trial and verdict.