Every personal injury case is different, which means that how long a case will last varies quite a bit as well. In some cases, a lawsuit can settle within a couple of months after an auto accident or another type of accident that results in personal injuries. In other situations, the case may be very complicated, and it can take years to resolve.
Factors that Affect How Long Your Personal Injury Lawsuit Will Last
Settling or Trial
Taking a case all the way to a jury trial takes much longer compared to settling the case. However, the time, effort, and risk associated with the trial are all reasons why most cases settle long before they get close to trial.
If you try your case, it can take years to get a final decision from a judge or jury. That time increases if you decide to appeal a losing verdict. The insurance company or the at-fault person in a truck accident or car accident also has the right to appeal a verdict, even if you win as well. Those factors all significantly increase the time it takes to complete your case.
Settling your case can be done in a few months in some situations. However, you can also settle your legal case at any point before or after trial as well.
Type and Severity of Injuries
In serious cases, it will take a significant amount of time for you to heal and get life back to “normal” after a car accident or other personal injury. To settle the case for a reasonable amount that will compensate you for your losses or injuries, you need to understand what those losses are.
Ideally, you will be completely healed when you settle your case, so you know exactly how much you spent in medical care. That is not always possible, however. Instead, you may need to estimate your future medical costs and how those injuries will affect you years into the future.
Your personal injury attorney will be able to help you gather information to present that information to a judge or jury. In general, the more severe your injuries, the longer it takes to heal and gather information and evidence to show those injuries to a jury or even an insurance company.
Number of Parties Involved
In most personal injury cases, you and the at-fault person are the only parties involved in the case. However, more complicated cases, especially in truck accidents, for example, involve several parties. The more defendants involved in your lawsuit, the longer the process will take.
Delay in Talking with a Personal Injury Attorney
Although you often have some time to start your lawsuit after an accident, the sooner you talk to a personal injury lawyer after an accident, the faster you can complete your case. In fact, you are more likely to get a favorable result if you act quickly after a bus accident, bicycle accident, or car accident.
If you delay talking to an attorney too much, it can be harder to investigate your case and gather evidence and information. That process then takes more time, which makes the overall process delayed.
The General Lawsuit Process
While every personal injury case is different, they all follow the same basic process once you involve a personal injury attorney.
- Your lawyer will usually start the process by investigating your claim. This involves talking to witnesses, getting medical records, tracking lost wage information, and more.
- Once the investigation is complete or as complete as it can be, you will work with your car accident attorney to create a demand letter. This letter will set out key facts of your case to present to the insurance company. It will make a starting settlement demand for compensation.
- Petition or Complaint. If the insurance company does not respond to your demand or settlement cannot be reached, then your lawyer will draft a complaint or petition to be filed with the court. The complaint sets out the “bare bones” facts that show that you are entitled to money damages.
- Both parties (you and the other driver in a car accident case, for example) will request information from the other. The discovery process is extremely important because you will be able to learn what defenses the insurance company will assert in your case. This part of the case is generally the most time-consuming.
- Once everyone has gathered all of the information they need, you will proceed to trial. Most personal injury cases are presented to a jury. The jury will give you a verdict that sets out who is liable and how much your money damages should be.
After the trial, both parties have the right to appeal a verdict that does not comply with the law or gets the facts wrong.
Having an experienced attorney will help this process run much more smoothly. The Clauson Law Firm can be a great resource as you work through your lawsuit.