How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

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“How long will it take?” is one of the most common questions heard by personal injury attorneys, and for good reason. When medical bills are piling up while lost work time accumulates, the victim of a personal injury can face tremendous pressure to do whatever it takes to get money fast. It is best, however, not to be in too much of a hurry, because opposing parties will take advantage of you that way. The bottom line is that every case is different.

Settlement vs. Trial

Nationwide, more than nine out of ten personal injury lawsuits are resolved out of court by private settlement agreement. Normally, it takes less time to negotiate a settlement than it does to win a courtroom lawsuit. That doesn’t mean a lawsuit won’t be filed, however – sometimes filing a lawsuit is exactly what it takes to pressure a decent settlement offer out of a stubborn opposing party.

The Factors that Influence Timing

The following factors largely determine how long it will take to resolve your personal injury claim:

  • The extent of your injuries: The more seriously you were injured, the more time it will probably take to resolve your case.
  • The details of your accident: A complex products liability claim against an auto manufacturer is likely to take longer to resolve than a car accident claim, for example.
  • When you contact an attorney: The earlier, the better.
  • How stubborn the opposing party is: This is the wild card in the deck.
  • How busy the trial court is: If dockets are crowded, it could take a lot longer for your case to be scheduled for trial.

A Typical Case Timeline

Following is a rough timeline of a typical personal injury lawsuit, to give you a rough idea of how long it might take to resolve your claim:

Step 1: Get Medical Treatment

From a strictly legal standpoint, visiting the emergency room is the first evidence-generating activity of the case, because medical records provide evidence of the nature and seriousness of your injuries – and medical bills provide evidence of your medical expenses.

Step 2: Retain a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney

Your odds of winning your claim improve substantially once you r hire a lawyer. But it’s not just a matter of winning or losing – even if you have a strong claim and don’t feel you need a lawyer to win, how much will you end up winning? There is a very good chance that a lawyer will more tan pay for his services with the increase in the value of your settlement or verdict that his skills make possible. Our great legal friend, and Texas Construction Lawyer, always says that high quality representation always pays for itself.

Step 3: Investigate and Organize Your Claim

This stage involves gathering admissible evidence, determining facts, applying the facts to the law to generate a theory of the case (or, under certain circumstances, concluding that the claim is not viable), and constructing persuasive arguments. This is your lawyer’s job.

Step 4: Wait Until You Reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

MMI is the point at which your doctor determines that your condition has improved as much as it is ever going to. That might mean a full recovery, for example, or it might mean a lifelong disability. It will be difficult to calculate the amount of your compensation until you reach MMI.

Step 5: Open Settlement Negotiations with the Opposing Party

In most cases, the “opposing party” is an insurance company, and insurance adjusters are professional negotiators. That’s OK, because we are too, and we know all their tricks.

Step 6: File a Lawsuit if the Opposing Party is Too Stubborn to Offer a Fair Settlement Amount

Filing a lawsuit kills two birds with one stone – it beats the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit, and it proves to the other party that you mean business. Settlements are often reached soon after a lawsuit is filed.

Step 7: Commence the Discovery Process

The “discovery process” is a pretrial process in which you demand documents and other evidence from the other side, question witnesses out of court but under oath, and gather evidence from the opposing party while the opposing party gathers evidence from you. If one party balks, the other party can seek a court order forcing compliance.

Step 8: Continue Negotiating

It is possible to negotiate a settlement at any time during a lawsuit. If an agreement is reached, a clause can be inserted into the settlement agreement obligating you to withdraw the lawsuit as soon as the settlement agreement is signed.

Step 9: Trial or Settlement

Most of our personal injury clients never end up in court, if for no other reason that the fact that Glenn Martin Hammond’s stellar record at trial discourages opposing parties from forcing him to take them to court by refusing to offer a fair settlement. If the case is settled, then once the settlement agreement is signed by both parties it becomes legally binding just like any other contract.

Step 10: Actual Payment of Compensation

It is only at this stage that you will owe our firm anything in legal fees.

A Ballpark Estimate

Depending on the size of your claim, the strength of your case, and the degree of stubbornness of the opposing party, settling your claim can take anywhere from six months to three years. If your case goes to trial, you can expect the time frame to be somewhat longer. Only in rare cases, however, does it take more than three years to resolve a personal injury claim.

Get Started Immediately

If you have been injured under circumstances that lead you to believe that some else may be responsible for your injuries, contact Kentucky personal injury lawyer Glenn Martin Hammond by calling (606) 437-7777 or by filling out our online contact form. We are proud to serve as a personal injury attorney in Lexington, Pikeville, Winchester, Paris and elsewhere in the state of Kentucky.

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