Most people know what a personal injury lawsuit is, however, not very many understand the process, or how long it takes. From the time an attorney takes the case until a court settles it depends on several factors. For example, there are more complications in a case for someone who sustained life-threatening injuries, leading to a lengthier process. Whether the individual filing the suit is willing to settle out of court for less money is another factor.
Typically, there are three primary reasons for a personal injury lawsuit to drag out, including:
- Factual or legal issues with the case
- The party has not yet reached maximum medical improvement from the injuries sustained
- The lawsuit is for a significant amount of money
If you suffered injuries and hired an attorney to file a lawsuit, one or all these three components will slow the process down. The only way to expedite the case is, as mentioned, accepting less money.
Issues with the Lawsuit
When determining the value of a personal injury lawsuit, a court considers two specific things. The first has to do with the at-fault party and the second, the degree of your injuries. As an example, if you suffered injuries because of a defective product, the manufacturer’s lawyer will do everything possible to prove you were at fault as opposed to his client. In response, your attorney will hire an expert to counter that claim. This back and forth takes time.
As for the degree of your injuries, again, the defendant’s lawyer is going to try to make you partially or fully responsible. For this, your attorney needs to have your treating physician testify in a court of law that it was the defendant’s actions, not yours that lead to your injuries. Whenever there are expert witnesses involved with a personal injury lawsuit, the case will take longer.
Although you can sue someone personally for your injuries, often, there is involvement of an insurance company. With deep pockets and vast resources, these companies will exhaust all possibilities before handing over a lot of money. The insurer wants solid proof that your injuries are as severe as claimed. Some lawyers working for insurance companies play dirty by questioning a plaintiff’s credibility. While difficult to hear, their goal is to discredit you and your situation as a way of not paying.
If still under the care of a doctor for your injuries, you can anticipate a lengthier process. In this situation, your treating physician can only “guesstimate” what the total medical expense will be, meaning there is no way to come up with a firm number until you completely heal.
If you want to settle faster, your attorney can go to battle trying to get you the most money possible. Otherwise, you would need to wait until your injuries heal and you no longer require medical care. Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, this could take years.
While tempting, the attorney you hire may recommend not to settle. Doing so, you could end up with 70 percent less money than what you deserve. Personal injury lawsuits are often riddled with challenges, which is why hiring the best lawyer possible is to your advantage.