You may be wondering how long the process will take if you’ve been injured in an accident. There is no single answer to this question. The length of time it takes to resolve a personal injury case can vary widely, but there are a few ways to narrow it down. Here is an overview of the factors that can affect the duration of a case along with a general timeline.
Table of Contents
Factors That Affect the Length of the Case
Severity of Injuries
The first factor is the severity of your injuries. You will probably settle your case quickly if you suffered a minor injury, such as a sprained ankle. However, when you suffer a more severe injury, such as a broken bone or traumatic brain injury, your case will likely take longer to settle. In most cases, you need to be as healed as possible before settling a case, so be sure to concentrate on rest and recovery.
A second factor is the insurance company. If the insurance company is cooperative and reasonable, your case is likely to settle quickly. If, however, the insurance company is being difficult, your case may take longer to settle. Insurance companies tend to be notorious for being difficult to work with, so you’ll have to be assertive and contact them frequently to speed up the process.
The Court System
A third factor is the court system. Your case will take longer to settle if you live in a state with a backlog of cases. On the other hand, your case may settle quickly if you live in a state with a well-functioning court system.
A fourth factor is your attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer will probably be able to settle your case quickly. However, if you have an inexperienced attorney, your case may take longer to settle. Even if you have a good attorney that is extremely busy, it can elongate the process. Ask your potential attorney what their case load is like before hiring them.
The fifth factor is you. If you’re cooperative and understand the process, the case is likely to settle quickly. If, however, you are stubborn or have unrealistic expectations, your case may take longer than necessary.
The length of time it takes to resolve a personal injury case depends on the facts of the case and how well the parties cooperate. Trials are rarely necessary, but if they are, it can take months or even years to reach a verdict.
Here’s a typical timeline for how a personal injury case might progress:
The injured person files a complaint against the person or company that caused the injury (the defendant). This begins the legal process.
It is the defendant’s responsibility to respond to the complaint within a certain amount of time. A defendant can admit responsibility (known as an “answer”) or deny responsibility (known as a “demurrer”).
If the defendant denies responsibility, then the parties will engage in a process called “discovery.” This is where each side exchanges relevant information and documents.
Settlement or Trial
By the time discovery is complete, both sides will have a better understanding of what happened and who was responsible. Most cases settle out of court through negotiation between the parties or their lawyers at this point. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial.
How long a personal injury case will take can never be answered definitively. The length of time varies depending on your injuries, the insurance company, the court system, your attorney, and you. In most instances, cases settle before going to trial, but if they don’t, the trial can take a long time. The best thing you can do is speak with a legal professional in your area about your specific circumstances.