A personal injury lawsuit may be a crucial element in putting your life back together after an accidental injury. The process is often a lengthy one, with a timeline that can stretch over months or years. The time that a personal injury lawsuit takes will depend on several different factors.
The accident date
The first point on the timeline is the date of the accident itself, including emergency room treatment. This is one day.
Conservative treatment phase
After your injury has been stabilized, medical treatment will focus on addressing the damage through conservative treatment. This might include physiotherapy and other non-aggressive treatments. This phase may last as little as one month or as many as 15.
Aggressive treatment phase
If conservative treatment doesn’t offer the desired recovery outcomes, you’ll progress to the aggressive treatment phase. This phase includes surgery and other, more aggressive interventions. It can take from two to six months.
Maximum medical improvement
Also known as MMI, this is the point following surgery when the patient has achieved as much recovery as can be expected. This will be from six months to a year after surgery.
What happens after MMI?
Once a patient has arrived at the MMI stage, the parties can enter pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations. These negotiations aim to arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement between the plaintiff (the injured person) and the insurance adjuster. This phase can take around one to two months. If a settlement isn’t reached, the parties may enter the lawsuit phase.
The lawsuit phase
The actual lawsuit phase can take a year or more, as the parties must wait for a trial date. It’s not unknown for the lawsuit phase to take three years, perhaps even more. Even when you finally have a verdict in your favor, the defendant may appeal. This appellate phase can add another year or two to your timeline.
Factors that can influence the timing
As you can see, the amount of time your lawsuit might take can depend on many factors. If you don’t need aggressive medical intervention and your injuries resolve relatively quickly, for example, you might not have to wait so long to begin the lawsuit phase.
Once you’ve reached the MMI point and entered the lawsuit phase, there are still more factors that can influence the length of time your case takes. If you have a very complicated case involving multiple parties, this will take longer than a relatively simple situation where you are only dealing with one other driver. Your level of liability may also contribute to the length of the case, as this can significantly complicate the lawsuit.
The degree to which you were injured can make a big difference in the amount of time it takes to settle your case. If you had a small fracture or a sprain, your case would be resolved more rapidly than if you had a severe injury requiring multiple surgeries.
If you’re seeking a reasonably small sum in damages, your case will take less time. In general, lawsuits for more substantial sums of money take longer to pass through the court than those involving relatively minor amounts. You can expect to wait longer if you are working towards a significant settlement. A personal injury claim for $5000 might take around nine months on average, while a $1,000,000 lawsuit could take over three years.
Another factor is the number of cases that the court needs to process and the number of resources that they have. A small court that’s dealing with numerous cases will take longer to get to your specific case. This is unfortunate, but it’s not something the court can control.
If you’re a plaintiff in a personal injury case, the timescale may be an essential factor in deciding whether to pursue a lawsuit or settle out of court. In the final analysis, it will depend on your specific situation. Seeking advice from a qualified legal expert can help you make the right decision for you.