Many questions arise after being negligently injured in an accident. One of the more common inquiries involves time; that is, many accident victims want to know how long a personal injury lawsuit can take. If you are a recent accident victim, you may be wondering the same thing.
Continue reading to learn more about personal injury lawsuits, including the possible standard events of the average legal process.
Immediately After the Accident
As soon as you are involved in an accident, you must get medical treatment immediately. Even if you look and feel fine because of adrenaline, there could be underlying bodily injury such as whiplash, back injuries, spine injuries, orthopedic fractures, burns and more. Always get checked out by a medical professional right after an accident. Once you have received your medical treatment, continue with any physician’s orders and show up for all scheduled doctors’ appointments.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
After you get home from the hospital, it is wise to start looking for a lawyer to represent your personal injury claim. Choose a seasoned Indianapolis accident lawyer who has experience in your type of accident and provides free initial consultations to discuss your case. It is also helpful to choose a law firm that works on a contingency fee basis, meaning they do not collect lawyer fees unless the recover a settlement for you.
Case Investigation and Development
Upon hiring a lawyer, the next step of the process mainly rests in their hands. From here, your lawyer will document your case through an investigation, while also utilizing all types of sources and evidence, such as witness statements, 911 tapes, photographs, videos, professional testimonies, medical records and more. They will also negotiate with the opposing insurance company to obtain the full and fair compensation you deserve for your damages and losses as an accident victim.
The negotiating part of the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, or even years, depending on many factors, including how cooperative the opposing insurance company is and how long it takes for you to recover. Sometimes, lawyers will not make a demand until a victim has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), and they have mostly recovered from their injuries. No accident victim should want to even make a settlement demand until a doctor tells them there is no further treatments which can improve their situation.
Filing a Lawsuit
Not all personal injury claims go to trial and in fact the majority of cases do not, but if they do, the process starts as soon as the lawsuit is filed. From there, it can take up to 1 to 2 years for the case to make it to court, however, every state has different pretrial procedures, so it is hard to really predict how long it will take.
Once the lawsuit is filed, both sides begin the discovery process to investigate and research the legal claims and defenses, which involves interrogatories, document requests, and more. The discovery process generally takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months, but this can vary depending on various factors such as case complexity and court deadlines.
Once the discovery process closes, both sides enter into the mediation and negotiation phase of the process. Basically, they begin to discuss the possible settlement. If the lawyers representing each side cannot agree on a settlement among themselves, obviously with the consent of their clients, they will go to mediation. If mediation does not work, the case will go to trial. However, most personal injury lawsuits settle out of court using mediation.
If a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, it is very difficult to predict how long it will take. There are several factors that influence the legal timeline of such cases. Hearings can also be pushed back and rescheduled. This means a trial can take anywhere from one day to several months, or longer, depending on the case.