Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to how long a personal injury lawsuit might take. Injury victims might also likely wonder how much their case is worth as well as what their chances of prevailing are. However, the question “how long does a personal injury lawsuit take?” could weigh heavily on the mind of an injured person.
If you have been harmed through no fault of your own, you might be wondering how long it could take to resolve a personal injury claim. These claims can take up your time, and in many cases, a long delay could lead to financial hardship. An understanding of how long your case might take– could help you prepare for what is to come.
Every injury case is different, and there are no hard time limits that require it to reach its conclusion. While some are resolved quickly, others can take months or even years to resolve. When you consult directly with a personal injury attorney, like one of the attorney’s at Rutter Mills, we can evaluate your case and advise you on its potential length. That said, an understanding of what goes into an injury claim could give you an idea of what to expect.
Personal injury lawsuit timeline
To get an idea of how long this could take, it helps to understand the timeline a lawsuit will follow. Keep in mind that each individual step of a lawsuit could vary in length. There is also the potential of reaching an agreed settlement during any point in the process.
- Pre-suit. Much of the work in a personal injury case should be done before a lawsuit is filed. During the pre-suit stage, the plaintiff and his or her attorney must identify the responsible party and collect records related to the injuries. Parties also typically negotiate before filing a lawsuit. In some cases, a settlement is reached during the pre-suit phase.
- Filing suit. If a case cannot be resolved, a lawsuit will become necessary to resolve a claim. Contrary to popular belief, it is still possible to resolve it after litigation begins. An important factor to remember with filing suit is that there is a deadline known as the statute of limitations. If you wait too long to file, the court could stop you from proceeding. The statute of limitations in Virginia is two years, according to the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243.
- Discovery. After the complaint is filed and the defendant answers, the discovery phase begins. This step of the process could take months in some cases. Discovery involves both parties exchanging evidence they intend to use at trial. This is to prevent unfair surprises, and also frequently leads to a settlement. Once the defendant sees the evidence against him or her, it can motivate them to resolve the case amicably instead of risking a trial.
- Pre-trial motions. If the case does not resolve at the close of discovery, there is often a flurry of motions prior to trial. These motions could seek to limit the evidence at trial or dismiss a case entirely. While important, this step rarely adds substantial time to a case.
- Trial. Ultimately, a trial is where many claims are resolved. Most cases involve a jury, but some are heard exclusively by a judge. The length of the trial will vary depending on the amount at stake in the case. A relatively minor injury claim could be resolved in an afternoon, while a complex case could take weeks to try. Furthermore, trial dates are also delayed for a variety of reasons, including settlement negotiations and unavailable witnesses. All told, it could take 1-3 years.
- Appeals. Unfortunately, a trial is not the end of some injury cases. If the losing side believes the case was decided wrongly, they could file a formal appeal. The appellate process is somewhat uncommon, but when used, it can add an additional 1-2 years to the length of a case.
Factors that can delay an injury claim
Many factors can slow down the resolution of your injury claim. Some of the most common examples include:
- Delay. It is common for defense attorneys to drag their feet, especially when the facts are not favorable.
- Medical treatment. If you are still treating your injuries, your trial may be delayed.
- Large claim amounts. Larger cases have more at stake. This, in turn, often leads to longer discovery periods, among other delays.
- Legal issues. There could be extended battles over legal technicalities before a case reaches discovery.
Let Rutter Mills streamline the litigation process
One of the ways the experienced lawyers at Rutter Mills can help their clients is by ensuring their case avoids any unnecessary delay. Some courts will allow a case to languish if neither party is actively pursuing a resolution. To learn how our Rutter Mills team of Virginia personal injury lawyers could help to resolve your claim expediently, schedule a free consultation right away.
When you’ve been injured, you’ve got a lot at stake - but so does the insurance company. Walking into the court room with a serious lawyer makes all the difference. Watch our video to learn more about Rutter Mills. Your lawyer matters.
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– Brother Rutter