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What is the Timeline for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injuries occur on a regular basis. While nobody wants to be injured, we cannot control the actions of others around us, and there are times when another person’s careless or negligent actions can cause harm. If you or somebody you love has sustained an injury and have filed a personal injury lawsuit against another party, you are probably wondering how long the process will take.

There is no single answer to that question. Each case is different, and various factors can affect the timeline. As we go through the general process for a personal injury lawsuit, keep in mind that every step along the way can take more or less time than the estimates below.

The General Personal Injury Lawsuit Process and Timeframe

Medical Treatment

The first step in the process is seeking medical attention for your injuries. This will likely be an ongoing part of your personal injury lawsuit and can include follow-up visits, rehabilitation, and physical therapy.

Choosing a Lawyer

You need to take some time to choose the best personal injury lawyer in your area for the case. Talk to friends and family about their recommendations and use the internet to research. Meet with several different lawyers until you find someone you are comfortable working with.

Lawyer Investigates Your Claim and Reviews Your Medical Records

The lawyer that you choose will investigate your claim, gathering all evidence necessary. They will obtain your medical records and have them reviewed by a trusted healthcare professional. This part of the process could take weeks or months.

Lawyer Negotiates With the Other Party

Your attorney will initiate communication with the at-fault party and their insurance carrier. Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but your attorney will not settle for an offer that is less than what you deserve. Your attorney will likely not make a demand for a settlement until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is when your medical treatment has ended and you have recovered as much as possible from your injuries. By waiting until MMI, your attorney has a good understanding of the total damages in your case. Again, this process could take months.

Filing a Lawsuit

Generally, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Your attorney will know whether or not it will be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in order to recover the compensation you need. If the other party refuses to offer a fair settlement amount, a personal injury lawsuit will be necessary.

Discovery Process

After a personal injury lawsuit is initiated, the discovery process will begin. This is the time when both parties investigate the claims made by each other. There will be requests for documents, and all parties involved will take depositions. This process can last months or even a year.

More Negotiation and Mediation

Throughout a personal injury lawsuit, particularly when the discovery period ends, lawyers for both sides will begin discussing settlements. In many cases, a fair settlement is offered at this time.

The Trial

If the two parties do not reach an agreement, it will be necessary for a personal injury lawsuit to go to trial. A case will have to be scheduled with the court and the two parties will have to wait until that date. A personal injury trial can last a day, a week, or even more.