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​How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

​How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

When you are involved in an accident and suffer personal injuries, there is no set time frame for when your case will come to a resolution. Some personal injury lawsuits may take a few months because one or both parties want to resolve it through a settlement. Some lawsuits may take a few years to resolve because one or both parties wish to take it to trial.

While there is no specific period, you want to remain patient throughout the process. Listen to your personal injury lawyer regarding the path of your case, and trust that they are taking as much time as necessary to seek total compensation. Waiting longer for a check is preferable to receiving much less than you deserve.

The legal responsibility of the at-fault party

If another party caused your personal injury, you have the right to legally hold that party accountable for your injuries. For example, you can sue a driver whose negligence led to your motorcycle accident and injuries. In some personal injury cases, there are several parties whose negligence was responsible for your injuries. You will have the opportunity to hold each party accountable for your lawsuit.

Your lawyer will begin by determining liability for your injuries. This can take time and an extensive investigation. Even if the liability of one party is clear, your attorney will evaluate what happened to identify whether other parties also share liability.

The purpose of a lawsuit

There are situations when you will want to file a lawsuit for your accident. One common reason is that the insurance company will not offer enough compensation for the damages you endured from your accident. Some common damages you experience from a personal injury accident are medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Even if you begin with insurance claims, you might need to head to court if the insurer will not cooperate. Filing your lawsuit escalates the matter and puts additional pressure on the insurer to make a fair offer.

Often, hiring an attorney signals to the insurance company from the beginning that you will not hesitate to file an injury lawsuit. This can improve settlement negotiations if the insurer wants to avoid heading into litigation.

What is the statute of limitations?

When filing your lawsuit, you must file it within the required statute of limitations. Each state has a statute of limitations for victims to follow in personal injury law. The statute of limitations is the designated time frame for each victim to file a lawsuit against another party.

While the statute of limitations differs from state to state, the time frames range between one year and six years. Once you miss that deadline, you miss the opportunity to pursue legal action against that party forever.

However, you do not want to wait until the last minute to file your lawsuit. You want to begin the process immediately so your lawyer can gather the strongest possible evidence. Further, the earlier you start the process, the sooner you might have a check in your hand.

How will your lawsuit be resolved?

​How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?There are different possible outcomes of lawsuits, and how your case resolves can influence how long the lawsuit takes. Your lawsuit can either end in a settlement or a trial. A settlement stems from negotiations that take place outside the courtroom. Before reaching a settlement offer, both parties often go back and forth several times. Once you agree to an offer, the lawsuit will end, and no further legal action will be necessary.

A trial takes a lawsuit to the end of the litigation process when you cannot reach a settlement. In a trial, both parties have the opportunity to present evidence to support their case. A plaintiff (you) will have the chance to explain why the defendant (liable party) needs to be responsible for your accident and losses.

Your lawsuit will be decided either by a jury or a judge. Once you and the defendant have pleaded your cases, the jury or judge will reach a verdict. This is the end of the litigation process. When your case goes to trial, it will take longer than when you get a settlement. If a trial is necessary to seek total compensation, it will be worth the extra time.

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Length of a settlement

One of the main ways that a personal injury lawsuit ends is through settlements. Both parties view settlements as a way for both parties to achieve what they want. The plaintiff receives the compensation they request in a reasonable time frame, and the defendant does not have to worry about future legal action. However, not each settlement occurs within the same period. Some settlements will take weeks to resolve, while others may take much longer.

Severity of injuries

Several factors can influence the length of a settlement. One of the factors is the severity of your injuries. If the injuries you endured from your accident are catastrophic or permanent, you might not know the extent of your losses right away. You might need to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement before you accept a settlement.

The damages you will have will also be more significant due to the lasting nature of your injuries. Because of this, insurance adjusters can be hesitant to fully pay out your claim and may resort to stalling tactics to avoid rewarding you with the settlement amount you deserve.

Proving liability

Another factor determining how long your settlement lasts is how well you can prove the defendant liable for your injuries. Your ability to receive just compensation is contingent upon the defendant’s negligence. If you have the evidence and information necessary to establish the defendant’s negligence, you might speed up the process of seeking the compensation you deserve. However, if there is uncertainty as to whether the defendant was liable for your accident, your claim and the settlement process can be much more drawn out.

Amount of damages

The amount of damages you are pursuing is another factor that impacts the length of your settlement negotiations. Insurance companies might be more willing to settle smaller claims earlier in the process. However, this does not mean that you should ever minimize your demands just to speed up the process. Waiting longer for more money can help your financial situation substantially in the long run.

Length of a trial

If you and the insurance adjusters cannot come to a mutual agreement about your compensation, you will then have a chance to plead your case at a trial. Just like a settlement, there is no set time that each personal injury trial takes. The trial can be over in a few days or a few weeks. Here are some factors that can affect the length of a trial.

Gathering evidence

The first step of your trial is the discovery stage, where your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer have the opportunity to exchange all of the evidence you might use in your trial. If your case requires a large amount of evidence, it can take time for each piece of evidence to be reviewed and exchanged.

In addition to the discovery process, your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer have the right to file motions that can have pieces of evidence kept out of the trial. Filing proper motions is necessary to ensure you receive a fair result in court. These motions can require hearings, which can take time to schedule. While this can also prolong the process, it might be necessary.

The number of witnesses

Another factor that can prolong the length of your personal injury trial is the number of witnesses planning to testify. During the discovery stage, a process called a deposition takes place. This process allows lawyers to interview witnesses for the other side and gather personal statements about the accident.

The more witnesses who must participate in depositions, the longer the trial may take. In addition to supervising your deposition, your lawyer will also have to scrutinize the answers given in every deposition. This all takes time, especially because scheduling witnesses can be challenging.

What a personal injury lawyer can do for you

Whether your case resolves through a settlement or a trial, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer who can keep you patient throughout the process. While other factors can influence the length of your lawsuit, a personal injury lawyer can help keep your lawsuit organized and on a timely path. With a personal injury lawyer on your side, you can avoid prolonging your lawsuit in different ways.

Forcing insurance adjusters to act

During settlement negotiations, your personal injury lawyer can ensure that insurance adjusters are not trying to wait you out and waste your time. Insurance adjusters will often use different stalling tactics to frustrate you and convince you to accept a settlement that is not in your best interest. A personal injury lawyer can force insurance adjusters to respond to your requests promptly and hold them accountable when they fail to do so.

Representing you in court

A personal injury lawyer can also keep you organized and ensure that all aspects of your lawsuit get filed promptly in anticipation of trial. All of this can help keep the trial process flowing efficiently. Your personal injury lawyer can also resolve any motions made against you in a timely fashion. Keeping the trial process on track can speed up the overall timeline of your lawsuit.

While a lawyer will never skip steps to speed up a personal injury lawsuit, they can ensure there are no unnecessary delays. Often, delaying steps of the litigation process can get you in trouble with the court. If the other side is delaying the process, your attorney can request the judge to keep it on track.

Types of personal injury accidents

The timeline of a personal injury case can vary, as can the basis of the lawsuit. Cases can stem from many types of accidents, and several aspects of your case will depend on the type of accident you were in.

Some of the typical personal injury accidents that occur are:

Some states have particular laws regarding certain types of cases, including wrongful death and product-related accidents. Further, not every lawyer handles every type of personal injury case. You need to ensure that you hire a lawyer with experience handling your specific type of claim.

One thing that all personal injury cases have in common is that someone else is responsible for causing the accident. Whether another person or entity was negligent or acted intentionally wrongfully, they should be liable for all the harm they caused. If you wonder whether you might have a personal injury lawsuit, consult with a skilled attorney as soon as possible.

Injuries you can suffer in an accident

When you suffer injuries in a personal injury accident, your experience can differ significantly from other accident victims.

Injuries from accidents might include:

  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Vision or hearing loss
  • Crushed bones
  • Fractures
  • Muscle strains and tears
  • Amputations

These injuries can lead to months and years of physical therapy and other medical services. Some injuries are so severe that you cannot physically or mentally recover from them.

While more serious injuries can lead to longer lawsuit timelines, you want to hold out for the settlement or verdict that you deserve. If you settle too soon, you might receive too little to cover your losses, which can have a detrimental impact on your finances well into the future.

Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer today

When seeking compensation for your accident and injuries, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer today. Do not be intimidated by the time it may take to resolve your lawsuit. In the end, receiving the compensation you deserve will be worth it. Call an experienced personal injury attorney and set up a free consultation about your rights and options.

Lauren Varner, Personal Injury Attorney

Lauren is a Personal Injury Attorney. She is Colorado native who became involved with the field of personal injury long before she became an attorney. Lauren’s professional philosophy centers around good old fashioned hard work, producing quality work product, and treating others professionally, with dignity and respect at all times.

Awards and as featured on

Top 40 Under 40 National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 NTL American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorney