How Long Does it Take to Settle a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
You’re stopped in traffic on your way home from work. Suddenly, you look into the rear view mirror and see a vehicle cruising at highway speeds and headed your way. There is nowhere for you to go. You brace for impact and hope for the best. This is a very common scenario in the world of personal injury but what do you do after you have been hit? Call the police, call your insurance company, seek medical treatment for your injuries… but what about protecting your legal rights? At some point you will likely need the services of an attorney but how long does the entire process take?
There are many variables that go into personal injury settlements which determine the time and effort needed to successfully resolve your case. Some cases are resolved through settlement negotiations and some go on to trial.
The duration of the case depends on your injuries and treatment and the cooperation of the other party/insurance company. Resolution of the case can take anywhere from 1-2 years if a successful settlement negotiation takes place or 2+ years if a lawsuit is filed and goes to trial.
Timeline for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are injured in an accident, the first thing you should do is receive medical treatment for your injuries. Make sure all of your injuries are fully addressed and documented by a medical professional. In Minnesota, there is an essential element in liability that the injured party must reach a tort threshold in order to bring a claim against the other party. These tort thresholds include:
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
- Out of work for 60+ days
- Medical expenses over $4,000
- Wrongful death
Hire an Attorney
The next thing to do is to get a lawyer to start working on your case. You want to do this as soon as possible so that they can help you through every step and settle your case quickly and for a just amount.
Investigation of Case
The first thing that lawyers do is get as much information and documentation as possible about the accident. They will ask you questions about how the accident happened, your background, your injuries, your medical treatment, etc. and will gather all investigative documents to support your case.
Requesting Medical Records
The lawyer will request all of your medical records and bills that relate to the injury (and often prior records). This is a long process and can take months. After receiving the records, they will review and determine if there is a case.
Once all of your medical records and other supporting documents are gathered, a settlement demand will be provided to the other party’s attorney or insurance company. There may be some negotiation back and forth and with any luck your case will resolve at this point. However, if a fair settlement offer is not made a lawsuit may need to be filed.
If settlement negotiations fail, the lawyer will file the lawsuit. After this, it could take up to 2 years to either resolve the case or go to trial.
After filing the lawsuit, each side investigates the claims and defenses. Interrogatories (written formal questions concerning the matter) and requests for other documents are served by both sides. Depositions of parties and witnesses, including experts (doctors, investigating officers, etc.) are taken. This process takes 6 months to a year to conclude.
After the discovery phase is completed (and sometimes still during), the lawyers will start talking about settlement. The court usually orders the parties to attend a mediation (interactive process wherein a neutral third party assists in resolving the case). Mediation is typically scheduled after the parties have answered the discovery responses and had their depositions taken.
If there is no mediation or agreed settlement, the case will move forward with trial (typically before a jury).
Speak With an Experienced Attorney Now For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to negligence and you want to know more about the litigation process, contact us at McEwen & Kestner today about your legal options.