Those who have been injured in a sidewalk fall accident often have many questions about their situations, such as, whether they should bring a case, what is involved in filing an accident lawsuit and when the case will resolve.
Should You Bring a Sidewalk Accident Case?
The decision to bring a sidewalk accident lawsuit should not be taken lightly. In general, the injuries and damages caused by the accident must outweigh the costs and stresses of bringing a lawsuit. Costs in a fall down accident case can easily exceed several thousand dollars for court filing fees, fees to obtain medical records, depositions costs, medical expert costs if necessary, etc.
For example, you are walking on a sidewalk in front of a grocery store and slip on a patch of ice. You fall and sprain your ankle. You see a doctor, get a splint and some crutches. You miss work for a day to rest your ankle. Aside from missing one day of work, there is no other medical treatment or financial losses. In this case, the injuries and damages would be outweighed by the costs associated with bringing a lawsuit against the grocery store. If however, the injuries included a broken ankle or seriously injured back which required spinal injections, then the injuries would probably warrant proceeding with a legal claim against the store.
Related: Liability in Pennsylvania Snow/Ice Fall Accidents – Hills & Ridges of Snow and Ice
What is Involved in Filing an Accident Lawsuit?
In general, fall accident cases will be heavily contested, especially by lawyers who represent the stores and individuals being sued. This means that most fall accident lawsuits, including snow/ice fall accidents, will run the full gamut in terms of litigating the case. After initial pleadings are filed to initiate the lawsuit, the parties will engage in discovery and exchange information and physical evidence related to the case, such as pictures, medical records and witness information. After this initial discovery period is complete, the parties will conduct depositions of each other and key witnesses, such as an eyewitness.
Then, after the deposition phase is complete, the parties will be in a better position to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. The court will hold various conferences and encourage the parties to reach a settlement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the case will head to trial. Just because a case is scheduled for trial does not mean it cannot be resolved any other way. Cases can and do settle at any time prior to, during and after trial.
When Will the Case be Resolved?
It depends on many factors, such as what county the case is filed in, the number of parties, and the complexity of the issues in the case. Philadelphia County is one of the only counties in Pennsylvania which employs rigorous case scheduling. This is due to the large volume of civil cases filed in Philadelphia. Within a few months after the case is filed, sidewalk accident cases in Philadelphia will usually be placed on either an expedited or standard track. Cases placed on an expedited track will be scheduled for trial within approximately 9 months after a case management conference is held. Cases placed on a standard track have roughly a year before trial is scheduled. These types of schedules are effective at keeping cases moving. Cases filed in other counties, such as Montgomery County or Delaware County, may take longer because the courts in those counties do not use case scheduling to move cases along.
The factors unique to a case, such as the number of defendants and the complexity of the issues, will also affect how long it will take for a case to resolve. Cases with multiple defendants, which is common in sidewalk fall accidents involving commercial properties, may take longer to resolve. In addition, complex medical issues and novel legal issues can also prolong a case.
As discussed in the prior section, a case may be resolved by way of a trial or settlement which can occur at any time. It is also important to note that cases which are won or lost in trial may be appealed. An appeal in Pennsylvania can take several years.
Related Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Legal Articles:
- Store Liability for Accidents in Pennsylvania – Who Pays for Damages
- Damages in a Pennsylvania Slip, Trip & Fall Accident Case
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