When you are left injured after an accident with mounting bills and an inability to return to work, you are likely very anxious for the conclusion of your personal injury case. How long does a personal injury lawsuit take to settle? Technically, you can likely settle your case very quickly, or within a week, but this is rarely a good idea.
Personal injury lawsuits usually take months or even years to settle for a variety of reasons. The following is what you should know about the timeline of your personal injury case.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take to Settle on Average?
Every personal injury case is different. It isn’t possible to determine exactly when your case will settle or even if it will need to go to trial. Complex cases may take two to three years while other cases take about a year. Very straightforward cases can settle in a matter of weeks when liability is very clear.
The best way to estimate how long it will take to recover compensation from your claim is by consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
What Factors Determine the Timeline of a Personal Injury Case?
There are many factors that affect how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim in Texas. Your personal injury lawyer can give you a general idea of what you should expect based on the following.
- Complexity of your case. Some slip and fall accidents and car accidents are easier to settle than more complicated cases involving medical malpractice, for example.
- Value of your case. The more your case is worth, the harder the insurance company will fight.
- Severity of your injuries. The more severe your injuries, the longer it will take to settle.
- How clear liability is in your case.
- Case load in your jurisdiction if your case goes to trial.
- Defendant’s willingness to settle your claim.
Your personal injury lawyer can help you better understand each of these factors in your case and how they may affect the outcome and timeline.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process in Texas
Understanding the process of a personal injury claim from your initial consultation to ultimately going to trial can help you understand how long your case may take.
Beginning Your Case
After you receive medical treatment, your next step should be choosing an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you. This is always recommended if you have suffered significant injuries or your case is complicated. Your lawyer will allow you to focus on your recovery and handle the investigation and communications with the insurance company.
Your personal injury lawyer will discuss your accident, your medical condition, treatments you have received, and other details of your case. From there, they will conduct an in-depth investigation into your accident. This investigation may take weeks or months, depending on the severity and complexity of your injuries.
During this phase, your lawyer may review your medical records with experts, perform an accident reconstruction with a specialist, and work to gather evidence.
Demands & Negotiations
The next step is making a demand of the insurance company or negligent party. Most personal injury claims are settled during this stage before a lawsuit is even filed. If the other party agrees to settle your case during negotiations, you will not need to take your case to court.
However, your personal injury lawyer may recommend proceeding to court if a fair offer isn’t made or your claim involves permanent impairment.
As a general rule, a demand won’t be made until you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This means all medical care has been completed or you have recovered as much as you are expected to recover. Until you reach MMI, your personal injury lawyer won’t know the value of your claim.
How long it takes to reach MMI depends on the type and severity of your injuries. This step is crucial because settling your claim before you are fully recovered can leave money on the table that you will need later. After all, what if you assume serious back pain or limited mobility will eventually go away but they never do, leaving you unable to return to work.
Filing a Lawsuit
If a fair settlement can’t be reached, your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit. It may take some time before your case even makes it to trial, depending on the case load, and there will be many pretrial procedures to complete.
After the lawsuit is filed, a discovery phase begins. This allows each party to investigate the accident, legal claims, and defenses. Each party sends documents to the other side, asks questions, and takes depositions of witnesses. The discovery phase lasts several months.
Negotiation & Mediation
After the discovery phase, negotiations will begin again. Your lawyer may be able to settle the claim directly with the other party’s legal defense, but mediation may also be used.
With mediation, both lawyers and clients meet with a neutral third party to attempt to settle the case.
Not many personal injury cases actually go to trial and are instead settled out of court or through mediation. If your case goes to trial, it may last anywhere from a couple of days to months, depending on the complexity. Your trial date will be set but it may also change.
If your case goes to trial, a jury will decide if the other party will be held liable for your injuries and, if successful, they will decide on an award amount.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Many factors can influence how long it takes to settle your personal injury claim. Working with a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience negotiating outside the courtroom and presenting cases in court may help speed up the timeline of your case.
Are you considering filing a personal injury lawsuit? Contact Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. today to schedule a free case review with our experienced Houston personal injury lawyers to begin exploring your options.