Do you think you may have a personal injury lawsuit or claim? You may wonder how long a lawsuit may take. This article will describe the typical timeline of a personal injury lawsuit.
Getting Medical Treatment
The first thing you need to do after getting hurt in an accident is to get medical treatment. This should occur in the first day after you are injured. You should seek medical treatment right away because your health is the first priority. But another reason is if you do not see a medical professionals until long after the accident, the insurance company or defense attorneys will argue that you were not really injured.
Next, you should choose a qualified personal injury attorney. You can use Lawsuit Info Center to help you locate a good attorney in your area. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to find your attorney and agree to work together. While you can settle some small claims lawsuits yourself, you should get an attorney for any personal injury lawsuit where you suffered major injury or losses.
Generally, if the accident caused you to be out of work for more than a few days or if your medical bills are more than two thousand dollars, you should get a personal injury attorney. You should speak to a few attorneys and you may want to even meet with some of them.
Attorney Reviews Claim
The attorney will first interview you about the accident, your medical condition, background and treatments received. The attorney will need to know everything about the accident, your treatments and injuries. Attorneys do not want to have any surprises during a trial, so you should answer all questions as truthfully as you can.
Next, the attorney will collect all of your medical bills and records that relate to the injury. He will also probably get your medical records for treatments that you had related to the condition. This process can take a few months.
After all of your medical records have come in, the attorney will review them to see if there is a case. The attorney can often tell early on there is no case and will give you this bad news very early on. It is in his interest to determine this quickly as he will not usually be paid unless he wins the case.
Demand and Negotiation
Many small claims can be settled before a lawsuit is even filed. If the attorney thinks the case can be settled, they will write a demand letter to the other lawyer or insurance company for the defendant. If this is not the case, the attorney will file the lawsuit. Generally, if the claim involves permanent injury or impairment, your attorney will probably not settle the claim before filing a lawsuit.
Your attorney also will not issue a demand until you have reached maximum medical improvement or MMI. This is when you have stopped medical treatments and are as recovered as you can be. This is because, until you have gotten to MMI, he will not know what the case is worth.
The attorney also should not file suit until you have reached MMI. This is because if you are not at MMI when the case goes to trial, the jury may pay you less than the case is worth.
It can take several months or even more than a year for you to reach MMI. But a good attorney will wait, if you can afford to wait. Of course, if you cannot afford to wait, your attorney should try to settle the case as soon as he can.
Filing the lawsuit will begin the clock running on when the case can get to trial. The pretrial procedures are different in every state. Generally, it will take one or two years for a personal injury lawsuit to get to trial.
Discovery is where each party investigates what the other side’s legal claims and defenses are. They will send questions and document requests to the other side and will do depositions of relevant witnesses in the claim. This process may take six months or a year. This depends upon the deadlines of the court and how complex the case is.
Mediation and Negotiation
When discovery is over, the attorneys will begin to talk about settling the case. The attorneys may settle a case by just talking to each other. But they may go to mediation. Mediation is where both clients and attorneys appear before a mediator and attempt to settle the lawsuit. Mediation can take a few weeks to occur, and then the decision may take weeks to come in.
Mediation is often successful. But if it is not, the case will be set for trial. A personal injury lawsuit can last a day, a few weeks or longer. The length can be more because trials often are only ½ a day. That makes the case take longer, but it allows all parties on the case to get other things done.
Note that just because the trial is scheduled does not mean it will happen exactly on that date. Trials can be rescheduled frequently. If your trial is rescheduled, do not assume that the attorneys are conspiring against you. Delays are common and are usually only for administrative reasons.