personal injury law basic

Timeline for Personal Injury Cases

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BestLawyerTips | Personal Injury Law Basic – If you were hurt in an accident that appears to have been caused by someone else, you may be wondering what to anticipate from a typical personal injury lawsuit and how long the procedure could take.

  • A personal injury claim’s schedule will vary depending on the particulars of each case, but there are several phases you should anticipate as your claim moves forward.
  • Most personal injury claims resolve out of court, frequently without a lawsuit being filed. Thus, it’s unlikely that your case will go to all of the stages we’ll cover here.
  • Remember that a settlement may occur at any stage of the personal injury claim process.

Let’s examine the general progression of a personal injury claim, starting with the incident and any immediate worries and moving on to what to anticipate at each possible stage of settlement.

The Mishap

A personal injury claim may result from a wide range of mishaps, particularly when someone is hurt by another person’s carelessness.

It’s critical to take action to safeguard any claims you may make, regardless of whether you were injured in a slip and fall or from a dog bite. For instance, following an automobile collision, be sure to:

  • Take photos of the cars’ positions, the damage they sustained, any skid marks, and anything else that can help explain how the collision occurred and who might have been at blame.
  • Obtain a copy of any police record that was created following the collision,
  • Find out who witnessed it,
  • Mke sure you receive medical help immediately away if you’re in any type of pain or discomfort or if something doesn’t feel right.

Obtain Medical Care

As we mentioned before, visit the emergency department or schedule a visit with your doctor as soon as you suspect that you may be wounded following your accident. This is not only the moral thing to do for your well-being, but it is also essential for any potential damage claim you may have.

The insurance adjuster for the at-fault party’s insurance company will probably contend that your injuries are not that bad if you submit an insurance claim with them after the accident and don’t consult a doctor for a while.

Find out more about how crucial it is to get medical assistance as soon as possible following an accident.

Seeking Advice from a Personal Injury Attorney

If you believe that someone else may be held legally liable for your accident, it’s typically a good idea to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case.

If you’re convinced you will receive a fair outcome and you feel comfortable handling the process, you can manage a modest personal injury claim on your own. However, you will require legal representation for any personal injury claim where:

  • You have experienced a serious injury (like a fractured bone or a concussion),
  • Your losses and medical expenses have exceeded several thousand dollars, and/or
  • The opposing party is resisting on important matters like who is at fault or the character and validity of your injuries

To determine which candidate is the greatest fit for you and your case, you may wish to schedule meetings with a few of them. Find out what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer before you hire them.

The attorney looks into and gets ready for your case.

Interviewing you is one of the first things your lawyer will do. Your lawyer will want to know every detail of the collision, your injuries, and any ongoing medical care. Answering every question as thoroughly as you can will aid your case later on. Surprises won’t help.

Subsequently, the attorney will obtain all of your medical bills and documents pertaining to the accident. It is likely that they will also obtain your medical records for any previous treatments you had concerning the ailment under dispute in the case.

In assessing the merits and drawbacks of your position and assembling your strongest case, your attorney may, depending on the specifics of your claim and its complexity, also:

  • Engage an investigator to help with tasks like locating and speaking with witnesses, locating security or surveillance footage, and locating other relevant evidence.
  • Consult experts (such as financial advisors who can address intricate matters like future lost wages or accident reconstructionists who might be able to piece together how the accident occurred).

It may take a few weeks to many months to complete this step of the procedure.

How much time does it typically take to settle a personal injury case?

Although it’s a frequently asked issue, no trustworthy information exists to provide a helpful response. More significantly, each personal injury claim is different, so an individual claimant wouldn’t benefit much from any given response.

To put it simply, the settlement procedure may last several months to a year or longer.

In a month or two, you might submit an injury claim to the at-fault party’s insurance provider and get a just compensation if:

  • There is sufficient liability insurance in effect.
  • Your wounds are not very severe.
  • You have fully recovered.
  • The insurance provider acknowledges that the accident resulting in your injuries was entirely the insured’s responsibility, and
  • The insurance provider is not contesting the veracity of your wounds or your medical care.

Still, very few situations are thus orderly. If your rehabilitation reaches a plateau and you fully comprehend the nature and amount of your injuries as well as all other compensable losses (referred to as “damages” in legal parlance), that is, at the very least, when the time it will take to achieve a fair (and complete) settlement will be tied. Find out more about compensation in cases of personal harm.

Thus, you should only think about settling your case if it takes a year for you to reach a position where your accident-related injuries have healed as much as they can. Later on, we’ll talk about this in greater detail.

Similar to this, you may need to take matters further by bringing legal action if the other party refuses to negotiate or give a reasonable compromise. At that point, settlement may not occur for a year or longer while you and the opposing party start the laborious “discovery” process.

In the field of personal injury, settlements for car accidents rank among the most prevalent. Find out more about the timetable for settlements in cases involving auto accidents.

What is the probability of receiving a settlement for a personal injury?

The majority of personal injury lawsuits result in a settlement. Therefore, the likelihood is that you will receive some sort of settlement unless an injury claim seems to be wholly without merit—the claimant does not appear to have any medical documents attesting to their injuries, for example.

Remember that if a personal injury attorney has consented to take your case and commit substantial time and resources to your defense, it’s often a solid sign that your claim is valid and worth a lot of money. It then just boils down to battling for the best result at that point. Here, patience may be quite important.

How Can You Shorten the Time It Takes to File a Personal Injury Claim?

The timetable is mainly out of your control since, as we previously explained, a lot of the settlement procedure depends on things like how well you heal from your injuries. However, there are a few steps you may take to ensure that the procedure doesn’t take longer than necessary:

  • Inform your attorney of anything that might later become relevant and negatively impact your claim immediately away. Do you have any past medical conditions or injuries that might be relevant to your present claim? When you had your accident, were you under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
  • Keep track of all of your doctor’s visits, fill all of your medicines, and heed the advice of your healthcare providers for any follow-up treatment.
  • Pay attention to any demands your attorney makes for paperwork or other supporting evidence so you may present the strongest possible case.

Above all, it could make more sense to concentrate on the wider picture and strive for the most comprehensive and satisfying result rather than worrying about how to expedite the process.

Attorney Thinks About Pressuring and Bargaining

Prior to a lawsuit ever being filed, many lesser personal injury claims are resolved. The attorney will present a demand to the opposing counsel or the other side’s insurance provider if they believe that the dispute may be resolved.

Until the plaintiff has achieved the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), a competent attorney will not issue a demand. MMI occurs when the plaintiff is as well as can be recovered and has finished all medical treatment. This is due to the fact that the attorney is blind to the case’s value until the plaintiff reaches MMI.

A lawsuit shouldn’t be started by the attorney until MMI. This is due to the possibility that the jury would undervalue the case if the plaintiff is not at MMI when the case gets to trial.

Following the initial demand, the opposing party’s lawyer or insurance provider will usually make a counter-offer. At this point, the parties will engage in a back-and-forth negotiation in which they will highlight each other’s strengths and weaknesses in an effort to increase or decrease the claim’s value. Find out more about how a personal injury case’s settlement negotiations are conducted.

The knowledge and abilities of your attorney are invaluable at this point, but the case enters the “litigation” phase if settlement negotiations break down or if the parties cannot agree on a reasonable settlement.

The lawsuit for personal injury is filed.

When you and your attorney file a personal injury claim in court, the litigation process begins. Remember that a statute of limitations is a legal term that specifies the stringent time constraints within which any lawsuit must be filed. Depending on the jurisdiction, the statutory time limit for personal injury claims might be as little as one year or as much as six years. Verify your state’s statute of limitations before filing a personal injury case.

Recall that a personal injury lawsuit might end in settlement at any time, including just after it is submitted to the court. An insurance company may “magically” be persuaded to come to the negotiation table with a reasonable settlement offer when an injured party files a lawsuit and raises the possibility of a trial.

The clock on when the case might go to trial begins to run when the lawsuit is filed. Although the pretrial processes vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a personal injury lawsuit will often take one to two years to reach trial.

The Personal Injury Case’s Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase, both parties look into one other’s legal claims and defenses in an effort to learn more about each other’s advantages and disadvantages.

Interrogatories, which are essentially questions, and document requests are exchanged between the parties, who also take depositions from all pertinent witnesses and parties, usually starting with the plaintiff and defendant.

Depending on the intricacy of the case and the timeframes set by the court, this process may take six months to a year.

Your lawsuit may be ended at any moment because settlement negotiations may be taking place concurrently with the litigation process. However, at this stage, the case is mostly dependent on the court’s schedule.

Negotiation and Mediation

Upon the conclusion of the discovery phase, the attorneys will often begin discussing settlement in earnest. In certain cases, the attorneys can reach a settlement simply via discussions, but in other cases, mediation will be necessary. In an attempt to settle a litigation, both parties (as well as their attorneys) seek the assistance of an impartial third party mediator through an alternative dispute resolution procedure. (Discover more about personal injury claim mediation.

There’s no assurance that the parties will reach a resolution during the mediation process, which might take as little as one or two days.


Trial is set in case mediation fails, which happens frequently. A trial for personal injuries may drag on for a day, a week, or longer. The duration could be extended because trials are sometimes held for only half a day rather than a full day in many places. This doubles the trial’s duration but frees up the afternoon for the attorneys and judges to do other tasks.

It’s crucial to understand that a lawsuit’s planned trial date does not guarantee that the trial will take place on that particular day. The schedule of the judge frequently causes trials to be postponed. You shouldn’t instantly assume that something bad is happening if your trial is rescheduled. Trials are frequently postponed, often for quite legitimate reasons.

Read about what transpires when a vehicle accident case goes to trial for information on this phase of the procedure in relation to one of the most typical injury case scenarios.

Receiving Assistance Following an Injury

While it’s vital to know how long your personal injury case can take, your main priority should be obtaining the best result, which frequently entails having an attorney on your side. In order to get the best outcome for you, a personal injury lawyer with experience will have the knowledge and abilities to lead your case through each of the phases we’ve covered here.

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