How Long Does It Take to Settle a Slip and Fall Case?
A slip and fall case is a claim demanding financial compensation from a property owner for causing or contributing to the fall. A settlement in a slip and fall case can be reached in just a few months…or negotiations could last a year or longer. Many different variables impact how long it takes to settle a slip and fall case, making an exact timeline impossible to predict. You can, however, get a general idea of what to expect by reviewing common factors.
The Length of the Victim’s Medical Recovery: A Few Weeks to a Few Months
A Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer will recommend to a client not to accept an insurance settlement for a slip and fall accident until he or she has reached the point of maximum medical improvement. This is the date by which a doctor believes the victim will recover no further; either when the victim has fully healed or healed as much as he or she likely ever will with a permanent injury.
The length of time a victim takes to reach the point of maximum medical improvement will determine how long the claim takes to settle. A victim can heal in a matter of weeks, or it may take several months. It is important, however, for a client to wait until the point of maximum medical improvement if he or she wishes to obtain fair compensation for the full value of the injury. Settling too early can result in an inadequate payment, especially for future medical expenses.
The Insurance Company’s Handling of the Claim: 55 Days or Longer
Once the injured victim does file an insurance claim for a slip and fall accident, he or she will have to wait to hear a response from the insurance company. California law states that insurance companies must acknowledge a claim within 15 days of receiving it. After the acknowledgment, the insurance company will have 40 days to investigate the case and accept or deny benefits. Therefore, it can take 55 days or less for an insurance company to investigate a claim and make a decision.
However, an insurance company in California also has the right to extend an investigation if it has a valid reason. Each request for an extension can result in 30 additional days before the insurance company has to update the client on the status of his or her claim. The total length of time it will take for an insurance company to accept or deny a claim will depend on the company’s protocols, the complexity of the case, whether there are liability disputes and if the company is handling your claim in bad faith. Bad faith could lead to claim delays without reason.
Whether Your Case Settles or Goes to Trial: 3 to 12 Months or More
At the earliest, it will take approximately three months for an insurance company to make a decision and cut a client a check in a slip and fall accident claim in California. This might be the case for you if you have a simple claim with minor to moderate injuries. If your case involves any complicating factors, however, expect a longer settlement timeline.
If you cannot successfully settle your case with the insurance company and need to go to trial in California, your case could take much longer than three months to resolve. You will have to wait for your appointed court date; something that could take several months to a year or longer in a busy court system.
Your case could settle via mediation at any point while you wait for a trial. If not, you will have to wait until the conclusion of the trial and a jury’s deliberation for a result. Then, you will wait an additional two weeks to receive your check – or longer if the defendant decides to appeal the jury’s decision.
Your slip and fall accident case could take anywhere from a few months to a year or longer to settle. For a customized timeline, consult with an attorney about the specific details of your case.