Importance of Hiring a Lawyer in Virginia Slip and Fall Cases

Below, Virginia slip and fall lawyer Thomas Soldan answers questions about the importance of legal representation and why one should hire an attorney when filing a slip and fall claim in Virginia.

Why Is It Important To Hire an Attorney in a Slip and Fall Case?

Thomas Soldan: Hiring an attorney for slip and fall case is important. As I’ve heard many judges in the Northern Virginia say:

“Just because you’re allowed to do something for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the most qualified person to do it.”

That is an old yarn and usually the judge will make a remark about the person’s ability to do surgery on themselves and how it is not advisable because doctors know better, even though it’s their own body. That same wisdom applies to personal injury cases.

In slip and fall cases, an injured party does have the ability and the right to represent themselves, but it is best left to professionals. It is a highly technical area and there are a lot of potential pitfalls for someone who is inexperienced.

Even an attorney that doesn’t practice personal injury law would rarely take a slip and fall case because of their lack of experience in that area of law, just as a slip and fall attorney probably wouldn’t take a will case or some other transactional case that they aren’t experienced with. The case law is constantly changing and there are a lot of nuances in the facts that a slip and fall attorney can assist the person with.

When an insurance company or claims adjuster is dealing with an experienced attorney, they are going to recognize the quality of work they get, the quality of analysis they receive, and the quality of negotiation. If they’re dealing with a private party, they may try to low ball and try to make them to agree to something that is not in their best interests.

They might propose an amount that is potentially too low or is not as valuable to the person, but an attorney can be on the client’s side advising them as to whether it is a good idea. In order to make sure that the person recovers as much as possible, the best arrangement is to get an attorney involved.

How Often Do Slip and Fall Cases Go To Trial?

Thomas Soldan: As an attorney, I treat slip and fall and every other type of personal injury claim as if it’s going to be litigated and taken to trial. To me, that is the most responsible way to prepare a claim to give a claim the very best chance for a great outcome.

In reality, a lot of these cases are not taken all the way to a judge or jury verdict. The reason for that is that litigation can be costly and very time-consuming.

In Virginia, depending on the jurisdiction, it may take several months to several years to get a case to come to a verdict, so oftentimes it is in the client’s best interests to resolve the case in a much shorter period of time. That decision is made by the client, but as a personal injury attorney, I advocate on behalf of my clients, inform them of their options, and help them make the best choice for their case.

There is no set percentage of cases that actually go to a full jury or judge verdict, but it is quite low due to the nature of the claim. Also, in terms of the person wanting some sort of security and control over the outcome, a judge or jury verdict is quite unpredictable.

There are many different things that can happen during the litigation process that can lead to quite unfavorable consequences. It is often possible that a case can be settled for an amount that is in the client’s best interests. As far as the claims side, it is often in the insurance company’s best interests to make a favorable settlement than to go to litigation because it is time-consuming and can be costly in terms of attorney fees and other costs. It is not always in their best interests to have a trial and through a settlement they have more control over the risk process.