How Long Does It Take to Process a Personal Injury Claim?
One of the biggest questions people have when deciding to pursue a personal injury suit is: How long does it take to process a Personal Injury claim? I decided to do some research to find the answer.
So, how long does it actually take to process a personal injury claim? Personal injury claims can be handled and processed within a few weeks, but the process can also last as long as several years depending upon the complexity of the case and the law firm that is handling the case.
This question typically also arises when you do decide to move forward with your lawsuit and things are moving very rather slowly. When it comes to long legal processes, those who work in the law field know how stressful this can be for you, their clients. Especially when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, they know it’s tough due to all the expenses that come from medical as well as now lawyer fees, for trying to receive what you well deserve.
Just keep in mind that there are many factors that can come into play, especially depending on the specific facts and nuances of your case. To help you the best that we can, we have broken everything down into the following information, so that you can see all the factors that might affect how long your case can take. We hope this helps, and that your case ends quickly and in the manner that you deserve. So, what are those factors? Let’s begin.
Building Your Case
Before starting your case, remember that these lawsuits can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple years to process. Due to all the differing facts, parties, issues and injuries, it is impossible to predict how long it can take until you receive your settlement. With that being said, on average, a personal injury lawsuit takes between one and two years to process. To help break down this timing, we will share with you typically what happens in what time frame. But do remember that it does vary for each case. If you would like a more direct flow for your specific case, you can always contact a lawyer for a free consultation. That being said, here is the work flow.
Engage an Attorney – The first thing that occurs to start your lawsuit is contacting a lawyer. In your injury caused you to miss out on work for more than a couple days, if you broke a bone, or in medical bills have totaled more than a couple thousand dollars, you will want to contact a lawyer.
Starting the Case – In this stage, you will begin the initial paperwork and process with your chosen lawyer. In addition, this is when your party lets the opposing party known what you are intending to claim against them. It is important to remember that the statue of limitations determines how long you have to file your claim. If the accident fell outside of this limitation, then you have lost your chance to file. From here, it moves to Court Motions. Here is where the case may be dismissed or have a judgement entered due to factors such as jurisdiction, venue, improper process, default, etc. all this can happen before the Discovery Process.
Discovery Process – This process can take six months to a year. And in some cases, can even be longer. In this stage, facts are dug up, reports are gathered or produced (Police Reports, MedicalRecords, etc.) and depositions and witness statements are taken. It is also the lawyers’ jobs to exchange documentation. After those steps have been taken, investigations about the disputes of the event will occur. This could include accident reconstruction and or other research. This time is also allotted for receiving maximum medical improvement or a firm prognosis from a medical expert to be given.
Discovery Process (Continued) – After the previous steps conclude, an attempted settlement is presented. Most cases are actually settled here through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. If a settlement is reached, congratulations! You are done with your lawsuit. If a settlement is not reached, your case will continue through trial.
Go to Trial – At trial, motions and other arguments will occur separately from the jury hearing the case. It is also possible that during the trial a settlement could be reached. If so, you are done! If not, once again your case will continue.
Reaching a Verdict – This step can take anywhere from one to two years since the filing the lawsuit. At this time, it is the defense’s turn to appeal, which could force a settlement for a lower dollar amount than the jury set. In addition, if the appeal is successful, a whole new trial or settlement could arise. If the plaintiff wins, the defendant owes him or her the amount determined by the jury.
Collection – If the plaintiff is successful, collection of the judgment begins here, or the effort to do so starts. The final judgment may be one lump sum, or it may be broken down into multiple payments. This collections step technically varies in time of starting as your case could have ended at the original attempted settlement. The three-year mark is given in case your lawsuit does get stretched on to this point. However, remember that most personal injury lawsuits are processed within one to two years. So, hopefully you will not have to wait three years to receive the monetary compensation that you deserve.
All cases are different, so even the model above can vary in the time that each step falls. The model above was created based off of an average time frame that is seen. If you would like to know the reasons your case could be shorter or longer, keep reading for the top causes of additional time:
- Complexity of Case – For personal injury cases, they are typically judged from a simple slip and fall case to a complex medical malpractice scale.
- Amount of Damages – This area is based off of amount of monetary damages with the quicker times being one thousand dollars or under to the slower being one million dollars or more.
- Severity of Injuries – Here, the area of injuries causes time to lengthen as certain areas require longer time to heal properly. Mild injuries are things like sprained ankles while severe injuries are labeled as brain damage or death.
- Case Load in Jurisdiction – Once you file a lawsuit, you are at the mercy of the court system and their court dates. It is also to note that court dates can change up to the last minute of the case being heard.
- Your Patience – The more patience you have can result in a much better settlement, or the lack thereof resulting in a quicker case, but for less monetary reward.
- Defendant’s Willingness to Settle – If the defendant is not willing to settle, then you will be forced to continue your lawsuit through to the trial and verdict stage. However, you may have a defendant that is willing to settle, and if that’s the case, your lawsuit could be over very quickly.
- Defendant’s Payback Speed – While this is technically after the lawsuit is over, a defendant may have been granted multiple payments instead of one lump sum, meaning you will have to wait longer to receive full compensation. Then, you also have to worry about the defendant actually paying their settlement. If they do not, you will be forced to have to take the back to court. However, you could also have a very responsible defendant who pays everything right away, allowing you to move on with your life.
The important thing to remember here is that there are no certain times when it comes to law. Accidents occur all the time, meaning there is always a large workload for the personal injury lawyers of the world. If you truly want to receive the monetary compensation you deserve for your injury, be prepared to play the long game. And if things go by quickly, celebrate it and get back to spending your time with loved ones.
If you have been involved in a personal injury accident, it is important to contact a lawyer for a free consultation immediately. They can greatly speed up the process of starting your lawsuit and give you a proper time frame built specifically for your case.