No question is more common in a law office than “how long will my personal injury case take”. The answer is a complex one. Each step in the process of settling a case varies depending on a multitude of factors.
Some cases can be settled in a matter of weeks, others are long, drawn-out court trials that could take years.
We’ve broken it down for you so that you know exactly what to expect.
The Personal Injury Case Process
Before we examine the length of different personal injury cases, it’s important to understand the steps involved in getting there. These may vary slightly, but your case will almost always involve:
- Recovery (reaching maximum medical improvement, or MMI)
- Choosing a lawyer (recommended)
- Case review (determining the validity of your claim)
- Filing the lawsuit
- The discovery process (where each side investigates the validity of the other’s claims)
- Negotiating a settlement (Once the discovery period is over, both sides will have an accurate picture of the other side’s strengths. This normally results in a mutually beneficial settlement much higher than the original offer)
If these steps are not successful, then the case will proceed to trial. When it does so, you can expect wait times up to a year or more. Don’t let this overwhelm you, there are many important legal reasons for it.
How long does it take to reach a settlement and receive my money?
There is no single answer to this question. It varies greatly depending on which route you and your lawyer pursue. Better lawyers will be confident in the amount of money they can win for you, meaning they will fight longer and harder against the insurance companies. To make things simpler, we will break the length down into two categories:
Short Settlements (approximately one month)
The insurance company will review the case quickly and make an initial offer. It is up to you to decide whether or not to accept. The advantage for them is that you will likely not have reached MMI yet, meaning the full extent of your injuries will not be known. A short settlement might get you your money faster, but it could leave tens of thousands of dollars or more on the table. The initial offer is almost always a “low ball” offer.
Long Settlements (a few months to years)
Hiring an attorney to investigate your claim gives you the advantage of having the value of your case assessed by professionals. It takes time to investigate the claim, determine negligence and liability, evaluate the strength of the other party, negotiate with the insurance companies, and go to trial if necessary. Factors to consider are:
- How long your recovery takes
- How long it takes to investigate the evidence
- The trial date
- The length of negotiations
- And more
Once a settlement is reached, it will take about a month for you to receive your money.
The answer to “how long does the average personal injury case take?” is complex and without a clear answer. It depends on your medical condition, the case itself, and your desire for a settlement. Hiring a professional attorney to get the most from your settlement will win you more money but take longer. It could take a year or more, but is worth it to get the maximum settlement.