Personal injury lawsuits can be a highly involved, emotionally draining process. The entire process can take a few weeks to several months to complete. It is not uncommon for personal injury lawsuits to drag on for longer than the involved parties expect.
This can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and despair, which is why it is important to consider the different factors that can influence the timeline of a personal injury lawsuit. It can help you prepare for the lawsuit and set realistic expectations for the timeline.
The time a personal injury lawsuit takes depends on several factors, including whether the case goes to trial or is settled out of court, or if the claimant wants to wait to fully recover from their injuries before proceeding with the case. Let us explore some common factors that influence the timeline.
One of the key determining factors in how long a personal injury lawsuit takes is the severity and nature of the injuries. Straightforward injury cases will take less time compared to complex cases, such as medical malpractice or product defect cases.
If your personal injury case involves long-term treatment, then you may need more time to assess the severity of your injuries, consult with experts, and negotiate with the opposing party to move ahead with the lawsuit.
For cases that have a lot of damages, the stakes are higher and that can result in a more careful approach by all parties involved in the case. This can add significant time to the legal proceedings.
Some personal injury cases get delayed as a result of the extended time it takes for the victims to recover from their injuries. If you suffer catastrophic injuries, then you may want to wait until you achieve maximum medical improvement to assess the long-term impact of your injuries. If you are going to require long-term care, then your demand for compensation would be much higher compared to quickly recovering from the accident.
The defendant will try their best to minimize their liability. So it will be up to the claimant to prove that the defendant is responsible for their losses. Establishing liability can be challenging and time-consuming.
You would need to gather and present evidence that shows the defendant owed you a duty of care and breached their duty, directly resulting in your injuries.
You will also need to demonstrate that the compensation you demand aligns with all the economic and non-economic expenses you incurred as a result of your injuries.
Court backlog and scheduling delays can also extend the timeline of a personal injury case. Court resources are limited and if there is a backlog of cases, the court may struggle to allocate trial dates. The overall efficiency of the court system can also impact the timeline.
Insurance companies often try to delay the legal process by dragging out the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit.
Common tactics used to delay cases are to overwhelm the claimant and their attorney with a lot of paperwork or to keep asking for new information about the case. They can also file different types of motions that can delay the process.
As you might expect, if the personal injury case goes to trial, it is going to add more time to the process. A high percentage of personal injury cases are settled out of court but the timeline depends on the level of cooperation between the parties. Negotiations can often get stalled, causing delays in the case’s progress.
You can work with a personal injury attorney to negotiate with the opposing party to reach a settlement. However, you should not settle for less than you deserve just to expedite the process.
If the opposing party can sense that you are getting frustrated by the delays, they can exploit this by offering you an unreasonably low settlement amount.
Also, you should remember that once you settle the personal injury case, you lose the right to seek more compensation later on, unless there is a rare exception that applies to your case.
While most of the factors that influence the timeline of a personal injury case might not be in your control, there are a few things you can do to expedite the process and ensure the legal proceedings don’t take longer than necessary.
One of the best ways to speed up the timeline is to hire the right attorney; one who has the time, energy, and resources to commit to your case. You also have to be fully transparent with your attorney so that you are on the same page throughout the process.
For example, if at a later stage, it is revealed that a preexisting condition or health issue contributed to the injury, it can cause unnecessary delays. However, if you are honest from the onset of the case, you can help minimize such delays.
You also need to be diligent in gathering and preserving evidence. One of the key pieces of evidence in personal injury cases is the medical records for treating your injuries. You need to keep track of your medical bills, and also follow all your medical appointments, even if they are follow-up sessions.
Finally, you need to establish an arrangement with your lawyer where you are both responsive in communication. You want to minimize any delays caused by inefficient communication.
While it is natural for anyone to want their personal injury case completed as soon as possible, your focus should be on the bigger picture, and that is how to get the most satisfactory outcome, even if it takes a bit longer. Consider getting personal injury legal services in St. Louis to determine if your case can be expedited without compromising its outcome.