If you file a lawsuit against a property owner, your premises liability case could be settled before trial. Premises liability lawsuits are generally filed when a property owner fails to ensure their property is free from hazardous or dangerous conditions and someone gets hurt as a result. You may be able to sue both those responsible for public and private property, depending on the details of your case.
According to the New York State Unified Court System, the property owner you are suing, who is referred to as the defendant in the case, will be given a certain amount of time to respond to your lawsuit. However, not all cases will make it to a court trial. After filing a lawsuit, there are several ways your case could proceed.
How a Defendant Can Respond in a Premises Liability Case
The defendant–the property owner you are suing–will be given the opportunity to respond to your lawsuit by serving an Answer or making a motion. In their response, they will usually do the following:
- Admit or deny the allegations made against them. For example, if you slipped and fell on a wet substance and claimed the property owner was negligent for not getting it cleaned up, they could deny that such a condition existed or deny that they were responsible for the condition.
- Request that the court dismisses the case. If the defendant does not believe you have a valid case against them, they can submit a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. You should understand that just because a defendant requests to have a case thrown out doesn’t mean the court will actually grant it.
- Serve demands for discovery. The case proceeds through a discovery process, including the taking of depositions where sworn testimony is provided by all the parties to the lawsuit. You as the party claiming to be injured will be examined by physicians on behalf of the defendants and once the discovery process is complete the case is ready for trial.
How Premises Liability Cases Are Resolved
Premises liability cases can be resolved through a settlement before trial, settlement during trial, jury verdict or even a settlement after trial.
Premises liability cases can be settled before trial when both parties are willing to reach an agreement on a fair settlement. Settling a premises liability case before trial is sometimes less expensive and results in the case being closed quicker than if it went to trial.
If you and the defendant can reach an agreement on an amount, then your case would settle while avoiding the risk and expense of going to trial. However, if the defendant isn’t willing to provide you with a fair settlement offer after going through the negotiation process, your lawyer can take your case to trial and let a jury make the final decision.
Settlements At Trial
During the trial your lawyer will present evidence of the defendant’s negligence, linking their negligence to the cause of your injuries and resulting damages. If the property owner’s negligence is proven and found to be a cause of your damages and losses, a jury will weigh the evidence and issue a jury verdict with an money award intended to fairly compensate you. The case may be settled at any point during the trial.
Many cases are settled during trial when the defendants see that you will not back down and the case is proceeding in your favor. In many instances the defendants often increase their offer during the trial in order to avoid a jury verdict. One of the most powerful tools your lawyer has to increase settlement offers to arrive at a fair and just settlement is beginning and proceeding with the trial.
The reason for this is that defendants and insurance companies can control the amount that they pay if they settle but they cannot control what a jury may do and how much money a jury may award.
Cases are sometimes settled after a verdict has been issued by the jury. A post-trial settlement avoids the cost and expense of any appeals of the jury verdict. Once a verdict is rendered either side may have a right to appeal. A common reason that defendants seek an appeal is that they may believe that the award is too high and they will ask an Appeals Court to review.
At that point they may make higher offers to settle than they made at trial because they will be concerned that they may lose the appeal and then be forced to pay interest on the jury award on top of the actual award.
THE POINT IS THIS: A case can settle at any stage and it is the job of your lawyer to advise and guide you throughout the process so that you receive the highest settlement offer possible given the unique circumstances of your case.
If You Are Looking to Sue a Property Owner in New York, Contact Dansker & Aspromonte Associates
If you suffered injuries on someone else’s property in New York, Dansker & Aspromonte Associates is here to help and can be reached at (212) 732-2929. We can evaluate your case and determine what forms of compensation you will be able to seek for your injuries and losses.
At Dansker & Aspromonte Associates, we look to protect the rights of our clients and will fight for the best possible outcome.