Jason Stephens | March 5, 2020 | Personal Injury
How long does a personal injury lawsuit take? The length depends on many factors. Cases that involve minor injuries or those that do not have a lot of facts to prove can be settled quickly. However, the case can take significantly longer if you have a complicated case or you have a serious injury that may cause you to need long-term care.
A personal injury lawyer can help ensure that your case is settled in the least amount of time. While it is impossible to give an exact amount of time a lawsuit takes to settle, each case generally follows the same timeline. As you recover from your injury, take your time to research lawyers who handle cases that are similar to yours.
Once you hire a lawyer, they will begin to conduct an investigation and gather evidence. This step is a key element in your case because it determines who is responsible for your accident. This can be one person or it could be multiple people. It could also be a company if you have a worker’s compensation or product liability claim.
The responsible party needs to be identified because this is who you will file the lawsuit against. In general, you will need to show that this person or company was negligent. This means that you will have to prove that they had a legal duty to you which they breached which caused your injury. In non-legalese terms, this means that they owed some sort of responsibility to you and they did not fulfill it. Because of their actions, you were injured.
There are many types of evidence that can help your case. Some lawyers may reconstruct the accident scene. They may also review any surveillance footage of the area. They also interview witnesses and check social media accounts of anyone involved. Other kinds of evidence that may be used include photographs, medical records, and different types of proof of your injuries.
Your lawyer will begin settlement negotiations if you or the other parties have insurance. Depending on the case, you may be required to file an insurance claim before you try to take the case to trial. It is common for your lawyer and the insurance adjuster to go back and forth with each other on the terms and the evidence. The length of this process depends on how difficult your case may be.
It is always important to remember that insurance companies are not on your side. They have whole teams of lawyers and insurance adjusters. Their one job is to make sure they pay out the lowest amount that they can. This is where your lawyer can be your advocate and fight on your behalf to make sure that you get the compensation you need to pay your medical and other cost of living associated with the accident.
Filing the Lawsuit
It is time to start preparing for a trial if negotiations have failed or if the other party does not have insurance. In Texas, the defendant must be notified of the lawsuit within 30 to 60 days of it being filed with the court. They usually have 30 days to respond once they receive the documents. After that, both parties will engage in a question and answer sort of back and forth. The time allowed for this is usually 60 days.
The defense may request that you be examined by a doctor. You may also have to prepare and give a deposition. Any witnesses or the defendant could also be called to do this. Both sides may also interview expert witnesses. All of this can be time-consuming. During this process, the defense may send additional settlement offers. You can choose to either accept or deny any of these.
Dispute Resolution and Trial
The defense may request a form of dispute resolution to try and settle the case. The court can also order mediation if the process is taking too much time. This is usually after several months have passed. If this is not successful, the case will go to trial where either a judge or a jury will decide the outcome of your case.
Before your case gets to trial, there will be many offers of a settlement. Settling early usually means getting a lesser amount of compensation. It is up to you to decide how far you want to take the case and if you want to proceed all the way to a trial.