How Long Will My Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
The physical toll of a personal injury can be overwhelming—and that is to say nothing of the financial impact. When your injury is due to someone else’s negligence—or their deliberate failure to observe safety regulations—a skilled attorney can help you recover the compensation you need to rebuild your health and financial security.
Unfortunately, these sorts of lawsuits take time, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how long it will be before any individual’s case is resolved. This timeline offers a look at the stages of a lawsuit, which will give you an idea of what to expect. One quick note: Many cases don’t go all the way to trial. Instead, they are settled at some point along the way.
As soon as you retain attorneys, they get to work collecting all information related to the incident that caused your injury. You can expect a thorough interview, and you will have an opportunity to share everything you remember about the situation.
Attorneys also ask questions about your background, and they look at the records surrounding your injuries and medical care. They review the expenses you incurred directly from medical treatment, as well as any indirect expenses. This process takes place over several months, and it gives your lawyers the details necessary to calculate an appropriate dollar figure to go with your claim.
Keep in mind that your attorney may recommend waiting to move forward with legal action until your medical treatment is complete. Until you have fully recovered—or recovered as much as your physicians expect you ever will—it is difficult to know exactly how high your total expenses will be.
When liability is clear and you are not experiencing permanent impairment, your attorneys might try to work with the other party to settle your case without filing a lawsuit. This begins with a demand letter, which essentially states that you believe you have a legal claim and you expect compensation for your loss.
This typically begins a period of negotiation with the other party and their lawyers. Quite often, these negotiations result in a settlement that both sides can live with, and you get a check without ever filing a lawsuit. This saves everyone time and money, so it is a popular way to resolve personal injury claims.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you are seriously and/or permanently injured, the demand letter and negotiation process may not be appropriate. In some cases, the other side refuses to accept any liability, which also means settlement is not possible. There is a statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit due to personal injury, so if it does not appear that negotiations are going to be effective—or the process is taking too long—your lawyers will move forward with filing a lawsuit.
There are a variety of meetings and information-gathering activities that must take place before a case goes to trial. Realistically, you can expect to wait at least a year—and often closer to three years—before your case is heard.
At any point before trial, the two sides might get together to try and resolve the case. In some cases, you might try mediation or arbitration to reach a solution that everyone can agree to. If your claim is not resolved in another way, it will eventually be heard at trial. The length of the trial depends on the complexity of the case. For most people, the end of the trial brings a final decision, which gives you some closure so you can move on.
If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, it is important to engage the services of an experienced attorney. Bates Law, APC is a leading California firm that specializes in personal injury. Call to schedule a consultation today at (619) 222-0900.