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How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

If you’ve suffered an accidental injury, a personal injury lawsuit may be vital to getting your life back on track. Recovering from an injury may be a costly business and the compensation you get from a lawsuit might be the lifeline you need. While some personal injury lawsuits can be resolved fairly speedily, others may take months or even years. The timeframe will depend on a range of factors, many of which have to do with your treatment and recovery.

The initial phase: accident and conservative treatment

The timeline for your lawsuit begins on the day you were injured, called the accident date. Once your injury has been stabilized, the focus of your medical treatment shifts to addressing the damage. The initial approach will usually be via conservative treatment, such as physiotherapy. This phase might last anything from four weeks to 15 months.

The aggressive treatment phase

Some people’s personal injury journey will end with the conservative treatment phase. If conservative treatment fails, however, you will move on to the aggressive treatment phase. This includes more invasive treatment options, like surgery. The aggressive treatment phase can last from two to six months.

MMI (Maximum medical improvement)

MMI is the point after the aggressive phase when the patient has made all the recovery  that doctors expect them to make. This may be from six to 12 months following aggressive treatment.


After the MMI stage, the parties may move forward and enter into pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations. These negotiations are aimed at finding some mutually acceptable settlement that the plaintiff and the insurance adjuster can agree on. It can take around two months to complete these negotiations.

The lawsuit phase

Sometimes the adjuster and the plaintiff can’t reach an agreement. If this happens. the parties enter the lawsuit phase. This can take 12 months and upwards. You will have to wait for a trial date to be set, which can take a long time. The lawsuit phase can easily take three years or more. Following a favorable verdict, you may still have to wait for the final outcome as the defendant can appeal, adding one to two years to the overall timeline.

Other factors

There are other possible factors that can influence the time your personal injury lawsuit takes. These include the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and your own level of liability. The amount of damages you’re seeking will be a big factor. If you’re only seeking a fairly small sum, the case is more likely to be settled quickly than if you are seeking, say, tens of thousands of dollars.

The degree to which you have been injured and the length of your recovery will also factor into the length of your personal injury lawsuit. Not only will you probably want to seek a higher sum for a very serious injury, but the length of time it takes to recover will mean that it takes longer to get a settlement.

There’s another factor which is unrelated to your specific case but which can influence the time it takes: the court itself. A small but busy court with fewer resources will take longer to process your case than a larger court with more legal experts and staff available. This is unfortunate, as it can have quite a dramatic impact on the length of your personal injury lawsuit.

If you find yourself as the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you will want to think about the timeframe involved when deciding whether you should settle out of court or go on and pursue your case. Ultimately, this decision will depend on your individual situation. Talking to an experienced legal professional can help you determine what’s right for you.

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