If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, an attorney can help you figure out your legal rights and options. Ultimately, your case could go in one of two directions: settling out of court or going to trial. Many factors will influence whether your slip and fall claim settles or not. No matter which direction it takes, the skilled personal injury lawyers at Sieben Polk P.A. can handle your case from start to finish. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
If you were injured in a slip and fall, you may be able to secure significant compensation through a slip and fall lawsuit. Your compensation may come through settlement negotiations or a judgment handed down in court. At Sieben Polk P.A., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured Minnesotans recover the compensation they deserve after being injured at little to no fault of their own.
When you turn to our skilled legal team for help with your case, we will explore every legal avenue available to maximize your compensation. Our attorneys have the advocacy skills to negotiate a fair slip and fall settlement on your behalf. If the at-fault party or their insurer does not make a fair offer, we can protect your legal rights and interests in court. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Do Slip and Fall Cases Usually Settle Out of Court?
Property owners have a duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition for lawful visitors. When they fail to address dangerous conditions on their property, visitors may slip, trip, or fall, often leading to serious injuries.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. Securing this compensation usually requires filing a claim with the at-fault property owner’s insurer.
Further, most personal injury cases, including those involving slip and fall accidents, settle out of court. A settlement is simply a contract in which disputing parties agree on the amount of compensation an injury victim will accept from the at-fault party in exchange for dropping their right to seek compensation in court.
Why Do Most Slip and Fall Cases Settle Out of Court?
One reason is that many slip and fall victims simply accept the first settlement offer they receive from the insurance company involved in their case without even attempting to negotiate. Why? It may be that many folks are simply unaware of their right to negotiate. It may also be that they feel a sense of urgency to receive their compensation sooner than later, especially if their accident leaves them struggling financially.
Additionally, many people are simply overwhelmed by the burden of dealing with insurance companies, particularly while they focus on recovering from their injuries. When dealing with this kind of stress, many jump the gun because they would rather get past the aftermath of their accident quickly than spend time and energy fighting for fair compensation.
No matter their reason for settling early, folks often leave money on the table by accepting an insurer’s first settlement offer. Insurance adjusters are employed to save their companies money, and they prefer to deny claims altogether. When this is not possible, they try to diminish the value of the slip and fall claims they receive, especially when they know the claimant has not yet consulted with an attorney.
Insurance companies also have other motivations for trying to settle quickly. For example, going to court can be costly. For them, it is only worth it if they believe they have a good chance of winning. If a slip and fall case is supported by compelling evidence that clearly demonstrates a negligent property owner’s liability, their insurer may feel that reaching a settlement as soon as possible is their safest bet.
Ultimately, securing a fair slip and fall settlement is more likely when victims are represented by an experienced slip and fall lawyer. An attorney at Sieben Polk P.A. can investigate the circumstances of your case, gather all available evidence, and negotiate on your behalf for a higher settlement that reflects the true extent and severity of your injuries.
Important Consideration in Minnesota Slip and Fall Lawsuits
Slip and fall lawsuits normally wade into the territory of premises liability. Therefore, it is important to work with an attorney who has a strong understanding of how premises liability works in Minnesota.
Proving Premises Liability in a Minnesota Slip and Fall Case
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you can secure compensation by showing that the property owner was negligent. Doing so requires proving the four legal elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. The elements are as follows:
- Duty – The property owner owed you a duty of reasonable care.
- Breach – The property owner breached their duty of care.
- Causation – The breach of duty caused your injuries.
- Damages – You suffered damages as a result of your injuries.
As in many states, Minnesota law traditionally recognized three categories of visitors in most premises liability cases: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Property owners owed the highest duty of care to invitees and the second highest to licensees. The lowest level of care was owed to individuals who entered a property without the owner’s permission, otherwise known as trespassers.
However, the Supreme Court of Minnesota abolished the distinction between invitees and licensees in the case of Peterson v. Balach. Now, property owners must simply take reasonable care to prevent lawful visitors from being injured by hazards on their properties. They can do so by inspecting their properties, repairing hazards, and warning visitors of danger.
When applying these rules, it is important to remember that the precise contours of the duty of care vary based on context. For example, the measures needed to keep visitors safe in a restaurant may differ from those needed at a movie theater.
As for trespassers, the law generally imposes a more limited duty. Property owners must take reasonable care to warn trespassers of artificial conditions created or maintained by the owner if they are likely to cause serious bodily harm. For example, an electric fence surrounding a property should be accompanied by a warning sign. Further, property owners must not intentionally harm trespassers.
Similarly, under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners must take care to protect vulnerable children from hazards likely to entice them onto a property. For example, property owners need to take reasonable precautions to prevent trespassing children from drowning in an unguarded or unfenced pool.
Finally, Minnesota law creates a somewhat unique exception for recreational properties. It provides that “an owner who gives written or oral permission for the use of the land for recreational purposes without charge” owes no duty of care toward visitors except to refrain from intentionally harming them.
Comparative Negligence in Minnesota
When you file a slip and fall claim in Minnesota, you and the property owner may each be assigned a percentage of fault. This percentage reflects the degree to which your own negligence contributed to the accident.
Under Minnesota’s comparative negligence law, you may still be entitled to compensation even if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, your degree of fault must not be greater than the other party’s, and your compensation will be reduced proportionately to your own.
For example, suppose you slipped and fell while grocery shopping and suffered $100,000 in damages. If a court finds that you contributed 20 percent to the cause of the accident, then your recoverable damages would be reduced to $80,000.
Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Cases in Minnesota
A law known as the statute of limitations sets a two-year deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits in Minnesota, including those involving slip and fall incidents. There are some exceptions to this strictly enforced deadline, but it is wise to consult with an attorney before relying on these exceptions just in case they do not apply to your case.
Remember that failure to file before the correct deadline passes will result in your case being dismissed. Not only will this destroy your right to seek compensation in court, but it will also jeopardize your bargaining power in out-of-court settlement negotiations. Why? Because when the at-fault party realizes that you can no longer sue, they will have little to no incentive to negotiate with you fairly.
The best way to avoid this consequence is by bringing your case to an attorney as soon as possible. Sieben Polk P.A. is here to make sure the all-important deadline is not missed in your case. Our legal team is ready to build the strongest claim possible on your behalf.
Slip and Fall Attorneys in Eagan, Minnesota
There is no guarantee that your slip and fall case will settle out of court. However, filing a claim with the help of a personal injury lawyer can greatly improve your chances of achieving a favorable slip and fall settlement.
At Sieben Polk P.A., we strive to obtain full and fair compensation for our clients when they are injured at little to no fault of their own. In many cases, this can be achieved through settlement negotiations, but it’s sometimes necessary to bring cases to court to fight for the compensation you are entitled to.
Our law firm is nationally recognized and locally rooted. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident in Minnesota, you can count on Sieben Polk P.A. to deliver the excellent legal counsel and representation you deserve. We offer free consultations, and you pay nothing unless we secure compensation on your behalf. Contact us using our online form or give us a call today at (651) 437-3148.