How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Personal Injury Case?
If you have a personal injury and would like to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident, you are likely wondering how long your case will take. Personal injury cases usually last between one and two years, but many factors can impact the length of your case by causing delays or speeding up the process. This guide offers an overview of the personal injury process and a few factors that can impact how long you can expect it to last.
Getting Medical Care
After an accident, getting proper medical care is the first step you need to take. Some people avoid getting medical attention if they do not believe their injuries are serious, but their mistake may cost them if they delay in seeking medical care.
The shock of an accident can cause an adrenaline rush and prevent your body from feeling pain in the following hours after an injury. You could have a severe injury and not know about it if you do not seek prompt medical care. Getting medical attention right after an accident also establishes a paper trail, giving you evidence for your case and improving your odds of proving that you were injured. It also removes the argument from the insurance company that some of your injuries are your own fault for not doing what you should have been doing to heal the injuries.
Meeting a Lawyer
Before you make a statement to an insurance company, you need to speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer. The things you say now give the other party ammo to use if you decide to fight for your rights in court. The insurance company may try to get you to say you are “doing fine” when you are having pain, or may even try to see if you will quickly settle for an amount much less than what your case is worth.
Those traps make it more difficult for you to achieve a fair result on your case, and most people do not know about the traps until it it too late for them to avoid them. Having a personal injury lawyer on your side from the start lets you overcome that roadblock and safeguard your rights.
Filing a Claim
The lawyer you hire will get to work on your case and will file a claim by sending the Defendant a letter of representation. This prevents the Defendant from attempting to contact you directly and will protect you from having to deal with the other side while you are recovering from your injuries.
Most people do not know that more than 90 percent of personal injury cases settle before making it to trial. Your lawyer and the defendant will use discovery to gather and share evidence, ensuring that all the cards are on the table. Trials are often unpredictable and can go either way depending on the mood of the jury, but your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer should have a good idea of how things will likely end.
Both sides then begin negotiating on a settlement to resolve the issue outside of court. Many companies opt to settle to end the case and cut off any additional risks that trial could bring. Others may want to settle confidentially so that they may avoid the lawsuit becoming public record and damaging their reputation. If you have strong evidence on your side, you have a good shot at getting a reasonable settlement. Disagreements during the negotiation process can delay your case, and there are times where your attorney may like your chances at trial better than accepting a settlement.
You will get your first court date shortly after filing your claim, and it will usually be for a trial date that is about a year away. If you have never been involved in a legal dispute, you probably think your case will end shortly after that date, but you are mistaken. Getting both lawyers prepared and all witnesses ready to testify on the same day is no small task. If one side has issues with the case, the lawyer will request a continuance, setting your court hearing off until a later date. There are other times when both parties are ready to try the case, but the court has several older cases set for the same week. You should always be ready to go on any trial setting, but you can usually expect at least one reset of the court date before you go to trial. Your injury attorney will be able to advise you in advance of the trial setting on your case’s likelihood of going to trial.
Most people want to know how long their legal battle will last so that they can determine how long they must wait to get compensation. There is no definitive answer to this question and your case could take anywhere from a few months to several years depending on your case’s complexity, the court’s availability, and the other side’s willingness to extend fair settlement offers.