How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take to Settle?

One question many people have if they have been injured in a car accident is how long does a personal injury lawsuit take to settle? As you can imagine, each injury and legal journey is different. There is no set amount of time a settlement is reached by and it would be foolish for any Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to guarantee a settlement by such and such a date.

Generally speaking, less serious injuries with small claims are settled more quickly, sometimes in a matter of weeks, while more serious injuries with large medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering might drag on for years.

With that being said, there is a standard order of procedure personal injury cases tend to follow which allows you to know where you are in the process. 

Most Personal Injury Cases are Settled

Before we look at each step of the process, it is important to note that most cases involving personal injury are settled. Often, the party at fault wants to avoid a lengthy, drawn-out process. They also don’t want to risk the uncertainty of a jury trial.

Plaintiffs are also usually interested in settling since it is much quicker than a trial and it is typically much less stressful. 

Steps Involved in Settling an Injury Claim

Regardless of whether your case is on the path to settlement or trial, the first few steps in the process are the same.

Medical Treatment

It almost goes without saying, but the first step in the process is to seek the appropriate medical treatment. In addition to making sure you are healthy, going to see a doctor for your injury will help later on to establish the legitimacy of your injuries. 

Make sure to keep detailed records of your medical bills and any other costs related to your treatment as they will be used to determine the compensation you are due.

Hire a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer

The next step is to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will listen to your story and evaluate your case. It is also wise to include a lawyer very early on in the personal injury claim process as they can help you deal with insurance adjusters who might try to get you to accept a low offer. 

Your lawyer will dig deeper into what happened and take a second look at your medical records. Don’t be surprised if this part of the process takes time and feels invasive. Lawyers want to make sure they understand every aspect of your case and are prepared for anything the other party throws at you.

Negotiation

After your lawyer has put together your case, he or she will begin negotiating with the other party, starting with an amount you have approved. 

After the other party has had time to consider your demands, they might make a counteroffer and explain why they think your demands are too high. They will usually try to poke holes in your case at this point, claiming that questions of liability are unclear or that the treatment you have received was too expensive.

File a Lawsuit

If negotiations hit a roadblock, it might be necessary to go forward with the lawsuit. If that is the case, both sides in the suit will have the opportunity to examine each other’s case to see where they are coming from. This is called discovery. During discovery, evidentiary measures such as depositions or expert testimony will be taken and examined.

Another Round of Negotiations

After both sides have had a chance to feel each other out, there is another chance to reach a settlement. If both parties still can’t reach an agreement. The case is likely heading for trial.

Trial

While it is rare for a case to make it this far, it does happen. Trials can last anywhere from a day to a few weeks. However, even at the end of a trial, the matter might not be completely settled. 

Appeal

The losing side of a trial has the right to an appeal. Even if you win your trial, the appeal process can take years to work itself out. Until it does, you might not see any of the compensation you are due.

The Key to Any Settlement

The key to any settlement is having a competent, skilled personal injury lawyer on your side. The settlement process is complex and can take a long time. A quality personal injury lawyer will know what to do at each and every step in the process and know how to make it as quick as possible and get you the compensation you deserve.