Being in an accident can result in serious injuries, loss, discomfort, and aggravation. It’s even more frustrating to discover that recovering for your damages can take significant time and effort. In this article, we answer some of your most pressing questions about the length of time that personal injury matters can take.
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Why Is My Personal Injury Lawsuit Taking So Long?
There are several reasons for a lawsuit to take a long time. The following are some of them:
- There are many steps in the personal injury lawsuit process, and many of them can be time-consuming
- Most courts are experiencing a backlog of cases, which might mean waiting many months for your case to be heard
- There might be significantly complex legal or factual issues involved, which can complicate the process and require additional research and preparation
- Your damages might be severe, which means a large amount of potential compensation involved in the case which means it will take longer to ascertain the value of your case
Is There an Average Length of Time It Takes to Resolve a Personal Injury Case?
Because every personal injury matter is different, it is hard to pinpoint an average length of time it will take to resolve a claim. According to one article, about half of the respondents to a Nolo survey reported that they resolved their personal injury claims within two months to a year, while 30% of readers waited over a year for their cases to be resolved. The overall average was 11.4 months. However, take that figure with a grain of salt, as there are many different things that can affect the length of litigation in a case.
What Are Some Factors that Affect How Long a Personal Injury Case Can Take?
There are many. First, the length of your case is influenced by the court or state in which you file. Each state’s docket – the list of cases in court – differs, and civil matters can take longer in one state over another. According to the model time standards released by the National Center for State Courts, it is recommended that 75% of general civil cases be disposed within 180 days after filing, with 90% disposed within a year of filing. However, that isn’t always the case, particularly if your state courts are experiencing a backlog.
Certain types of cases can take longer than others. A complex lawsuit based on a serious product liability claim, for example, will likely take longer than a relatively simple car accident. When a case involves complicated, difficult, or novel legal issues, it is likely to be litigated longer. Additionally, the number of parties involved – and the number of claims and defenses they bring against each other – can add to the time needed to resolve the matter.
The facts of your case can also be a determining factor of the time it will take to litigate. Cases that are complex or complicated will generally take longer to resolve, while cases where the facts are clear-cut and straightforward may proceed faster. Some examples of complex facts include contrasting or incompatible witness statements; severe or catastrophic injuries; complicated damages; and evidence that is missing or lacking.
The amount of damages and the severity of your injuries can also affect the length of your case. If there is a lot of money involved, chances are, insurance companies will investigate the extent of damages very carefully, which can take a long time. On this note, in some cases, it actually makes sense to wait until you are finished with your medical treatment before deciding to settle your claim, in order to value your case based on your maximum medical improvement.
Why Do Settlements Take So Long?
Typically, settling a case will take less time, overall, than going to trial. Still, the settlement process can take a long time, especially if there are multiple parties and multiple insurance companies involved. In fact, insurance companies can sometimes drag on the settlement process and negotiations, in an attempt to discourage and frustrate the victim, in hopes that they will agree to settle for less. Understanding that the settlement process can take a while, and remaining resolved as opposed to being tempted to settle early can sometimes lead to a more favorable settlement overall.
How Can FVF Help?
Because personal injury cases can be tough to navigate, we recommend that you consult with an Austin lawyer to help you decide how to move forward. Our lawyers at FVF are knowledgeable and experienced in personal injury law. We can help you understand your rights, options, and potential next steps in your case. Contact us today to learn more.