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If you were injured at no fault of your own and have had difficulty getting money you need from the insurance company to cover medical bills and other expenses, you may file a personal injury lawsuit. In a lawsuit, you bring your case in front of the legal system to decide whether you deserve compensation. A personal injury lawsuit is known to be a tedious process. It is, however, sometimes necessary to get you the justice and compensation you need.
So, how long does a personal injury case take? There is no perfect answer for how long a personal injury lawsuit will take. If the plaintiff is willing to settle and receive less compensation, the process may only last a few months. If there is no settlement, it may take the case two or three years before it gets to court. The following common factors may prolong your case:
- When a larger compensation is involved
- If you’re still receiving medical treatment
- The “discovery period”
- Investigation of the accident
- Legal problem disputes
Before you file a personal injury lawsuit, it’s important to know what the process involves and how long it could take before you get the compensation you need. Hiring a good personal injury lawyer can make the process easier. You’ll get direction and guidance on what will happen next. To learn more about factors that can affect the length of your personal injury case, keep reading.
Factors That Can Affect the Length of Your Personal Injury Case
There are a number of factors that can alter the length of your personal injury case. It’s important to remember that every case is different and that the lawyers need time in order to prepare a strategy and to gather information.
A Larger Compensation is Involved
A personal injury case can take longer if a larger compensation is involved because both parties will be less willing to settle. For instance, the plaintiff wants a large compensation to cover medical expenses and life burdens caused by the accident while the defense doesn’t want to pay such a hefty sum. When neither party wants to compromise and settle, a personal injury case can stretch on for a few years before it gets to court.
You may wonder what compensation you deserve. Keep a record of any expenses the accident or injury has caused. Keeping documents proving your medical visits and expenses is a place to start. Anything from the ambulance ride charge to surgeries, treatments, and physical therapy can be recorded and used to determine the compensation you need.
Keep records of any work you missed due to your injury. If you are unable to work and pay your bills, these expenses should be included in the compensation amount. An injury can drastically alter your life, and it’s important to take into account any financial burden that is put on you because of it.
If a person’s life is drastically changed due to an injury, there may be a larger compensation. Some people can never function the same after an accident, so they must receive money to cover this burden.
Factor in the “Discovery Period”
Chances are, if you file a personal injury lawsuit, it won’t be settled in a number of days. The “discovery period” alone can be up to six months. The discovery phase is given to allow the parties to gather information about the incident. First, both parties will gather contact information from each other and any witnesses who were involved. They’ll also collect any information the insurance companies can give about the money they rewarded in the claim.
In this period, the plaintiff’s attorney may hold depositions to help gather information from the other party. In a deposition, the attorney will ask the defendant a series of questions relating to the event. Testimonies given in a deposition can be used as evidence in court.
In this timeframe, the plaintiff can share documents of expenses with the defendant. This will show the plaintiff is owed at least the amount of their expenses. Each attorney can also ask for medical records and police reports relating to the incident.
If you have a complex case, the attorneys may be working up to the wire of the discovery phase, even after six months. Cases can also settle in this time frame; depositions are a great tool to use to encourage a settlement.
You’re Still Receiving Medical Treatment
Many injuries can result in long-term treatments or surgeries and therapies that go on for the rest of your life. Once your lawsuit is over, you can’t file another one demanding more money to cover your recurring medical expenses. While future medical expenses could be included in a compensation amount, you have a better chance of winning if you have proof of expenses.
Many attorneys use doctors and other medical professionals as resources. These doctors may review your medical records and even give you a consultation to judge the status of your health relating to the incident. The lawyer can use these professionals as witnesses to testify about the injuries you have received and their severity. They can also say on record if they believe you need further medical attention.
If you’re still receiving medical treatment, this can delay a personal injury case from advancing. The outcome of surgery can determine whether you’ll need further medical attention. It’s important to see how things progress so you can keep track of all your medical expenses and get the compensation you need to cover them.
Investigation of the Accident
The investigation of the accident that caused your injuries can be a factor in how long your personal injury case lasts. If the accident is more complex and it involves numerous variables, the investigation process may take more time. Although you may want to get your compensation more quickly, it’s important that every aspect of the accident is understood and that the attorneys and parties knew exactly what happened. The clearer an accident is, the easier it is for a jury to make a decision.
If you were involved in a car accident, your attorney will get the police report and depose the police officer who worked the accident. If there were witnesses, the attorney will depose them as well. The attorney will seek to establish that each account matches and to discern whether anyone can share new information gathered from their vantage point.
Your attorney can also try to obtain any footage of the accident. Whether your car accident was captured by a stoplight camera or a premises liability accident was caught on a security camera, seeing how the incident played out will help your attorney understand what happened.
Legal Problem Disputes
A legal problem dispute is another reason your personal injury case timeframe may be extended. A legal problem dispute is when there is a dispute over anything regarding the legal matter of the case.
Many times, a personal injury lawsuit is filed because the insurance company refused to compensate the injured. While insurance companies are notoriously difficult to get compensation from (click here to read more), one reason they may refuse to provide money is if it cannot be proven their client was in the wrong. If there is any question in your case who was responsible for your injury, the insurance company does not have to compensate you.
Legal problem disputes can happen when the injuries you received and the amount of money you’re owed for medical expenses is questioned. These disputes can lead to a deeper investigation into what happened. If they aren’t resolved, it could also make your case look weak.
If clear steps are taken after your accident, it can help prove you deserve compensation. To know more, read our article Steps to Take After An Accident.
Every personal injury case is different. That’s why you must have on your team a good lawyer who is familiar with your type of case. At Hornsby, Watson, Hornsby & Heyward, we are experienced in providing representation for many different types of personal injury cases. From traffic accidents and premise liability to nursing home abuses and wrongful death, you can rest assured you have thorough and experienced representation. To learn more about our practice areas, you can view our services page here.