Premises liability cases such as slip and falls are intricate and require large amounts of evidence. Although lawyers prepare for these cases as if they will eventually go to a trial a few of them do. Most slip and fall cases settle out of court in Maryland because it’s easier for both sides and costs are less.
In some cases, a trial is necessary and in the interest of justice. Baltimore slip and fall attorney Randolph Rice discusses the chances of your case going before a judge and jury in Maryland.
Why Do Most Maryland Slip and Fall Cases Settle Out of Court?
The legal process was developed in the Middle Ages and is adversarial. Once a lawsuit is filed, everything an attorney and the business accused of causing a serious fall injury does is geared toward a make or break hearing before a judge and jury. Despite the trial-centric nature of the process, a government survey found 97 percent of civil cases settle before they reach a trial. Slip and fall cases are no exception. No matter how adamant both sides are that they will fight a slip and fall claim all the way to the courtroom, certain factors increase the likelihood of a settlement.
Taking a case to trial is a lengthy business. Irrespective of how stubborn both parties are at the outset, their attitudes can change months later. It can take a year or two for a slip and fall case to even receive a court date. In the intervening time, your attorney takes part in the process of discovery. Although the lawyers acting for the business you hurt yourself at will often try to wear you down with a long list of questions and requests, discovery is also an opportunity for your lawyer to gain important evidence from the business.
For example, a supermarket owner may claim you slipped in the grocery store on a wet surface just minutes after a spill and employees knew nothing about it. If video footage obtained under discovery shows an employee walking past the spill and ignoring it before a customer’s slip and fall, this is important evidence that could persuade the store to make a better offer.
The legal process provides many opportunities for both sides to reach a compromise. The process of offer and counter-offer can sometimes reach a ’tipping point’ when the amount offered is acceptable to both parties. Mediations are now held in many big cases. Both parties are brought together in a non-threatening environment. A mediator, who is usually a legal professional such as a retired judge, presides over the meeting. Increasing numbers of cases are now settled at mediations which are dubbed ‘the new trial.’ It’s a less confrontational and cheaper format than a courtroom and one in which long-held differences can be smoothed over.
Many businesses prefer mediation to a trial because they can escape adverse publicity by adding confidentiality clauses to an agreement.
Most slip and fall cases settle out of court in Maryland because of the costs of the legal proceedings. Steps like depositions and the fees of expert witnesses don’t come cheap. Although personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency basis which means you don’t pay upfront, the massive costs of taking a case to trial mean most lawyers require a bigger percentage cut at the end of the case to recoup their costs.
When faced with a choice between a settlement and a jury trial, the slip and fall victim (known as the plaintiff) faces a dilemma. A jury may return a very large verdict. However, the jury may also side with the defendant and the plaintiff ends up with nothing for a year or two of intensive litigation. Going into a courtroom is stepping into the unknown. On the other hand, the plaintiff might have an offer for a substantial sum of money from the business owner of the premises he fell in. It’s often a no-brainer for the victim to accept the money.
The plaintiff should also be aware he or she could be ordered to pay toward the costs of the defense team if the case is lost at trial.
The cases that are more likely to go to trial are those where the business owner accepts no liability at all and has not made a settlement offer. It’s then down to the jury to rule if the business owner or his agents or employees acted unreasonably.
What Is the Role of a Lawyer in a Slip and Fall Case in Maryland?
Your Maryland slip and fall lawyer will take on all aspects of your slip and fall case in Maryland and deal with the other side’s insurance company.
However, the choice of whether to accept a settlement is yours alone. The lawyer’s role in the settlement process is to put offers and make counteroffers to the insurance company with your input. When you receive an offer, your attorney will give you the best advice possible on whether it’s fair or not. We won’t pressurize you into taking an offer. The decision on whether or not to accept it is the client’s alone.
We will have a good idea about whether a settlement is fair because we worked on your demand package that reflected your losses whether economic, medical bills, or pain and mental anguish from your slip and fall accident in Maryland.
If the figure is well below the demand it may indicate it’s unfair. However, all cases are different and we will talk to you about your circumstances.
Talk to a Maryland Slip and Fall Accident Attorney About Your Injury Claim
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we will consider your case whether it’s a fall in a restaurant, a hotel, a store or a public building like a school or City Hall. Although all business owners should know about the dangers of slippery surfaces, these accidents continue to injure scores of people every year. Many of the victims are elderly and frail and vulnerable to fractures. Do not hesitate to contact Baltimore personal injury lawyer Randolph Rice to talk about your slip and fall case. Call our law offices at (410) 694-7291 today for a free consultation.