How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
One of the most common questions we get from new clients is, “How long will my case take?” Like everything else about the law, the correct answer is, “It depends.”
A personal injury case usually starts out as an insurance claim, not a lawsuit.
As you go forward with your case, it helps to know the difference between a claim and a lawsuit.
- What is an insurance claim? Most lawyers will first try to negotiate with the insurance company to cover their client’s injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Most of the time, this is going to be the fastest and least expensive way to get a claim resolved.
- What is a lawsuit? A lawsuit is a formal dispute filed in a court of law that that asks the court to resolve the dispute. For example, a personal injury lawyer may file a lawsuit pleading that her client was injured when another driver caused a car accident.
The more complicated the case, the longer it usually takes.
Some claims can be resolved within a few months of completing medical treatment. More complicated claims take longer.
Some factors that can complicate a claim include:
- The type of claim involved. Premise liability cases typically take longer than car accident cases.
- The number of people involved. Multiple plaintiffs or defendants complicate the issues and concerns need to be addressed.
- Whether liability is an issue. Who is at fault is critically important in any personal injury claim. If there are any questions about liability, expect the case to get drawn out.
- The type of insurance coverage involved. Does your case involve personal auto insurance? Or are you dealing with a commercial property policy? An insurance company will be more motivated to defend or delay a million-dollar policy than they are a liability-only state minimum policy.
- The length and type of medical treatment. In a personal injury claim, medical records often serve as evidence of the plaintiff’s injury. Long, complicated treatment will complicate the case, and add to the amount of time the case takes to resolve. If a plaintiff has a medical history that the defendant insurance company wants to argue is a pre-existing condition, the case can get drawn out.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit adds time and expenses to a case.
Once a lawsuit is filed, the parties are officially in an adversarial position. Court-imposed deadlines for things like discovery have to be met. Lawyers need to take depositions, obtain witness testimony, or seek out expert opinions.
That all takes time and money. The expenditures and the wait may be appropriate in some cases, but not in others. Your lawyer will best be able to explain how those issues apply to your individual case.
WHY ARE LAWSUITS FILED IN PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS?
The two most common reasons that a lawsuit gets filed are:
- Negotiations have broken down. Sometimes the parties simply cannot come to an agreement. In those cases, the plaintiff’s attorney will talk to their client about whether filing a lawsuit is in the client’s best interest.
- The statute of limitations is about to run out. Every state has its own law about how long plaintiffs have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Once that deadline has passed, it is too late to pursue a claim any further, unless a lawsuit has been filed.
Every personal injury client at Brown & Crouppen gets a legal team with lawyers and paralegals who have years of experience. If you have been injured, and you want a free, confidential consultation, call toll free at 1-800-536-4357, or submit your request using our online form.