Some people view personal injury cases as a way to get a quick payday, but properly handled personal injury lawsuits are not about riches or speed. These cases should be getting fair compensation for the accident victim and holding others accountable.
With this in mind, how long does a personal injury case take? A car crash takes just moments to occur, but the events after the accident can last for years. There will be an investigation and perhaps a trial, and the victim may need to undergo therapy due to their injuries.
Here is what happens immediately following a car accident:
- Police and emergency medical personnel will be contacted and will show up at the accident scene
- EMTs will provide treatment and provide transportation to the emergency room, if necessary
- An officer will prepare a police report containing initial details of the crash
- The party who caused the accident will become known as the defendant, and the victim of the accident will become known as the plaintiff
A personal injury case timeline
Unfortunately, there is no set timeframe for how long it will take a personal injury case to settle. However, Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can outline all the steps you should take to file a personal injury claim after you have been injured in an accident.
Get medical help
It is best that you get a medical examination for any injuries, even if you only have a few bumps and bruises. This process may require more than just one visit. You will likely see emergency room personnel on the day of the accident, and you may need to follow up with your primary care physician and other specialists for several months.
Hire a personal injury lawyer
Once a doctor has attended to your injuries, you want to make sure you receive fair compensation for any damages and personal injuries as a result of the accident. The party at fault, and their insurance company, might be helpful and polite at first, but insurance companies do not represent you. They are working to protect their clients. Hire a personal injury attorney who makes your best interests a top priority.
Your lawyer will start an investigation
Once you retain an attorney, their investigation of the accident will begin. Your lawyer is on your side, so answer questions and provide information as accurately as possible. When it comes to cases, attorneys are not fans of the unexpected. Tell your attorney whatever you can about the accident itself, your injuries, and your medical treatment.
Please do not get discouraged during the investigation phase. This work is highly detailed, and your legal team needs to be careful and accurate. It can take weeks or months to secure medical records. Your attorney needs to take the necessary time to gather information, review it, and become familiar with your case. Be as patient as possible. A good lawyer will be thorough in pursuing the best possible outcome for you.
Once your lawyer gathers all necessary information, it is time to file your personal injury case. A reasonable attorney will not rush the process and will wait for your MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) before filing a case, which may take up to a year.
Your lawyer may attempt an out-of-court settlement, especially if you are not seeking significant compensation. Your attorney will send written demands to the defendant’s attorney or insurance company. The defendant’s representatives will likely make a counter-offer. This back-and-forth process can take months, but the process will resolve your matters much faster than the court system.
Filing a lawsuit
If your attorney’s attempts at an out-of-court settlement are not effective, it is time to move on to the next phase of your personal injury case — filing a lawsuit.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury is four years. Your lawyer will have to file before the four-year deadline is up. Once the court receives the case, it can take a year or two to come to trial.
The discovery phase
The discovery phase focuses on the exchange of information between the plaintiff and the defendant. Lawyers will examine all the relevant evidence. This is also a time for each side to ask questions and provide answers. Both attorneys will schedule depositions to gather first-hand statements from the other party, witnesses, and medical experts. The depositions are typically held in law offices and will be taken down word-for-word by a court reporter.
The mediation and negotiation phase
Following discovery, the lawyers will begin the mediation and negotiation phase. If it is possible, both sides will attempt to agree to a settlement. If this is not possible, they will involve a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third-party who will attempt to help the parties come to a satisfactory resolution.
Time for trial
If there is no out-of-court settlement, and negotiations and mediation fail, it is time for the trial. The trial phase can represent a significant amount of this time. While the time in court may be days or weeks, trials are often delayed and rescheduled due to conflicts with the judge’s calendar or other court matters. Again, try to be patient since you and your attorney cannot control everything.
Factors affecting the time to settle a personal injury case
Many factors contribute to the timeline for how long it takes to settle a personal injury lawsuit. Each case is unique, and every timeframe is different. Issues include the complexity of the case, the severity of injuries, the amount of damages, and the court’s caseload.
With all this in mind, how long does a personal injury case take? It is hard to say, but a good lawyer will help you through each step of the process.
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County car accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 983-4395 now.
Disclaimer: You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.