Personal injury lawsuits can be incredibly confusing, particularly for those who do not have much legal experience. One of the main questions that an attorney is asked is – How long will it take for this case to settle?
The reality is that there is no way for an attorney to know upfront how long it will take for a settlement to come through in a personal injury case. Even after a Riverside personal injury attorney reviews a case and starts the process of negotiating with insurance carriers or other parties, there is still no way to completely know how long it will take for a claim to be resolved.
Here, we want to discuss a personal injury lawsuit timeline so that you have a better understanding of what to expect.
Filing the Personal Injury Claim
The vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. That is why the first step in these situations is filing a claim with any insurance carrier involved in the case. In some situations, an insurance carrier may look at the facts of the case and offer a settlement within as little as a few weeks or a month after the incident.
However, that is not always the case. Insurance carriers can be difficult to deal with, and they do not want to pay out any money if they can avoid doing so. If an insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies a claim, it may be necessary for an attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit.
All told, the initial filing and negotiation process with the insurance carrier could take a few months to either resolve the case or determine that a personal injury lawsuit is necessary.
The Discovery Phase
After a personal injury lawsuit has been filed, the first step will be the discovery phase. This is the part of the lawsuit where attorneys for both the injury victim and the at-fault party will have a chance to exchange information with one another.
Additionally, the investigation process into the incident will continue. Any new information uncovered will need to be turned over to all parties involved.
During the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit, there are times when enough evidence has been gathered to convince one side or the other to either settle or drop the case. However, this does not always occur.
The discovery phase and investigation can last for months or even years. This process can also include witnesses giving depositions so both sides can gain a clear understanding of what each witness has to offer.
Working Through Negotiations
Negotiations will typically continue while the discovery phase is ongoing. In some cases, a judge may order both parties to go through mediation in an attempt to resolve the claim before a trial becomes necessary.
In these situations, a neutral third party will serve as the mediator. The mediation process does not usually take long after it begins, but this is not guaranteed to produce results.
If both parties are unable to reach a settlement throughout the discovery phase of the process, it will be necessary to take the case to trial. It can take years for a personal injury jury trial to even commence, though once it does begin, it will typically only last a few days or a few weeks.
All told, there is no exact timeframe for a personal injury lawsuit in California. The case could be resolved in as little as a month to a year, or it could drag on for years. A skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to guide you through this process and help you understand the best steps forward for your situation.