Dealing with a personal injury case is not nearly the most fun thing to do, for a multitude of reasons, be it the emotional investment or the injury itself. However, one of the most frustrating aspects of a personal injury lawsuit is the time it takes for it to be over with. Not only can it be extended through disputes, the actual process, without any dispute and settling with little to no fanfare, may still take a while. But how long is that, and why does it take so long?
Understanding how long a personal injury lawsuit takes
The big issue with a personal injury lawsuit and timing is that you have to do a lot of things before and after it. When you find yourself in an accident, the first thing you need to do is seek out medical treatment. Even a minor injury should be treated quickly and adequately, particularly because not doing so runs the risk of causing grief for a potential personal injury lawsuit in the future. If you do not seek some form of medical treatment for your injuries, this may result in your insurer either thinking that the injury is not severe enough, or that the neglect to do so is why the severe injury was so severe in the first place. Once you have gotten your injuries treated and assessed by a trusted medical professional, the next step is to decide whether it is worth considering pursuance of a personal injury lawsuit. You would be well served in consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer about the merits of the personal injury lawsuit that you want to file through a consultation with them.
A lawyer is not mandatory for you to file a personal injury lawsuit, but not going with a lawyer introduces a number of risks for people who do not have experience and knowledge themselves with handling lawsuits. Lawyers have both of these things, and it allows them to handle parts of the process that you may not be capable of doing yourself. Not only that, but lawyers are expert negotiators, and when it comes to dealing with a potential payment to you, you want to have the best negotiator you can have on your side. If your side does not do a good enough job advocating for the damages that you should receive, you may find yourself getting less back than you should, potentially leaving you short for past and oncoming medical bills associated with your injury. Not only that, but if you do not have a lawyer, that means that you are going to have to spend that much more time on the case, causing you a lot of stress when you should be spending your time recovering from your injuries.
After you’ve got your lawyer working for you, your lawyer is going to get as much information as they can, both from you and the other parties involved in the incident. This includes determining the circumstances of the accident, the backgrounds of those involved, medical treatment for you and others involved (if applicable), etc. Make sure that you do not withhold anything; the more information they have, the better a case they can make. If you hold information back, all you do is make the case take longer and make them less able to argue in your favor adequately. This will take quite a bit of time, potentially months, as your lawyer has to go over the details with a fine-tooth comb, especially if the other parties involved are being largely uncooperative. They will also want to see how much your medical costs come out to, which means they will prefer to wait until you have completed your medical treatment. This itself might take months, possibly even years.
After this is all done, if your lawyer determines that your case has enough merit to take it to court, they will begin to negotiate a possible settlement with the other side. A settlement is often preferable, as it means that your case is going to not have to be dragged out. However, the severity of the injury may lead the lawyer to want to bring it to court, as the damages required are likely going to be significantly higher than the other party will be willing to pay out, such as if the injury winds up having lifetime consequences. If the lawsuit is filed, depending on the state, it will go faster or slower. However, do not be surprised if your case takes years to actually get to trial. Even when the ball finally starts rolling, the discovery phase, where the parties review the evidence provided by both sides, can take months to years to end. Trials can take a surprisingly short amount of time, depending on the circumstances. It could be over in a flash, or it could take a significant amount of time, depending on how complex it is and how much dispute. It can also simply be an issue of having to reschedule, which is all too common, unfortunately.