While most slip and fall cases eventually settle, some do not get resolved until an attorney files a lawsuit and begins the process of litigating the victim’s case. This could be due to disputes regarding the property or business owner’s liability for the accident, the extent of the victim’s injuries, or the compensation the victim is entitled to. In order to win his case, the accident victim will need to prove that the property or business owner was negligent and that the owner’s negligence was the cause of his injuries. The discovery phase of a lawsuit can be critical in establishing a business or property owner’s liability and in reaching a favorable settlement for the victim.
Types of Discovery Your Attorney Could Use in Your Slip and Fall Case
Discovery in a slip and fall case occurs after a lawsuit has been filed and is the process where the victim and business owner use various tools to obtain information from each other and third parties about the facts and disputes of the case. An experienced slip and fall attorney can utilize the information obtained to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his case and to obtain helpful information to defeat the negligent party’s arguments as to why he does not face responsibility for compensating the injured victim. This phase in a case can take months or longer depending on the number of lawsuits pending in the court and the court’s procedural rules on how long the parties have to engage in discovery. Some or all of the following types of discovery could be utilized:
- Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered under oath and can later be used in court hearings. The plaintiff’s attorney will often send interrogatories to the business owner to learn more about the location of the fall, what notice of the dangerous condition the property owner had, and the procedures for maintaining the property and inspecting for dangerous conditions, such as the one that caused the person’s fall. The property owner’s attorney will also send questions for the victim to answer that could focus on his knowledge of the dangerous condition on the property, the steps the victim took to be careful, and any medical conditions the victim had that could have contributed to his fall or his injuries.
- Requests for production of documents. The parties can request documents from each other and third-parties. For example, the plaintiff’s attorney could request incident reports, surveillance tapes of the area where the fall occurred, company policies and procedures regarding maintenance, inspection reports, and records of repairs and routine maintenance done on the property. This information could be critical in establishing that the property or business owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition that caused the victim’s fall.
- Medical records. The defendant’s attorney will almost certainly make a request for production of the victim’s medical records. These are critical in showing how the person was injured, the treatments he needed, and his prognosis. The attorney will also be looking to see if the victim had a pre-existing injury that he could argue was the cause of his current injuries instead of the fall.
- Depositions. Depositions are proceedings where the attorneys have the opportunity to ask witnesses questions under oath. The answers are recorded by a court reporter who transcribes the questions and answers in a written document that can be used in court hearings. The property owner, the victim, employees of the property owner, and expert witnesses are often deposed in slip and fall cases. While there is rarely a “Perry Mason” moment where the defendant admits liability, a skilled attorney can obtain important admissions that he can use to help establish the business or property owner’s responsibility for the fall.
- Independent medical examination. The defendant’s attorney could request that the accident victim be seen by a doctor selected and paid for by the defendant if his injuries are in dispute. If this doctor is truly impartial and substantiates the victim’s injuries, it can be very helpful to the victim’s case. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Having an experienced slip and fall attorney willing to take the time to engage in discovery that could lead to helpful information in your case is crucial. The legal team at Jones Wilson is committed to fighting to obtain the compensation victims deserve for their injuries in slip and fall accidents. Call us at 866-299-0558 to schedule a free evaluation of your case.