How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take? The Complete Guide

There are many questions that come up when you’re dealing with a personal injury case.

How long does a personal injury lawsuit take? How much will my settlement be? When can I expect to receive the settlement funds?

It’s estimated that only 5% of personal injury cases actually go before a judge or jury. Does that mean that your personal injury lawsuit will go by faster?

Read on to learn more about the personal injury process and how long you can expect it to take before you receive a settlement.

Personal Injury Timeline

There are many steps that you need to take between the moment of your personal injury and the settlement check. Each step will take some time, and it depends on how complex your case is.

Some personal injury cases are resolved in 6 months. Other cases take 2-3 years to fully resolve. Let’s take a look at each step in the personal injury case process so you know what to expect in your case.

The Moment of Injury

The legal clock begins at the moment you sustain your injury. You need to act pretty quickly if you want to get the best results from your personal injury case.

A winnable case means that you have the ability to connect your injuries to the incident. For example, if you broke your wrist at a place of business, you will need to have a medical report and photographs that show the conditions where you fell.

The reason why timing is important in a personal injury case is that you have so much time after the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit. That’s called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations will vary from state to state, but it’s generally around 2 years.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything because you have two years. The longer you wait to act, the harder it will be to prove your case.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

Your first step after an injury is to contact a personal injury attorney. An attorney will review your case, let you know what documents you need, and set the expectations of your case.

They’ll tell you how long it takes to settle a personal injury case, what documents and reports you should gather. They may set you up with medical experts to review and support your claim.

Be aware that not every personal injury attorney may be willing to take on your case. You should interview several attorneys before settling on the right one for your case.

File a Lawsuit in Court

When you hire an attorney, their job is to review the details of the case and prepare a court filing. This is the first major step in a personal injury case.

Filing a lawsuit in court presents the details of your case, and it notifies the defendant (the person or business you’re suing for damages). The defendant in the case has between one and two months to respond to the initial lawsuit claim.

The amount of time to respond depends on the state’s laws where the lawsuit was filed.

Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is where the attorneys on both sides of the case collect and review all of the materials related to the case. These could be medical reports, police reports, internal documents, and witness statements.

Financial records are also collected to determine the amount of damages in the case. This will serve as a baseline in negotiating a settlement. The discovery phase can take about 6 months to complete.

Negotiation Phase

Once both sides gathered information, they’ll start to negotiate a settlement in the case. The attorneys will review the facts of the case and see what the best settlement offer is for both sides.

They know that it’s in everyone’s best interests to avoid a trial because that will be much more costly than settling out of court. A settlement agreement could happen within a month, or it can last for many months.

If the sides can’t agree on a settlement, they will turn to mediation and then go to trial. That can drag on the process for at least a year or two.

How Much Will Your Settlement Be?

The other common question that you will have is how much your settlement will be. There are a number of variables in the settlement. A defendant that’s uninsured will result in a small settlement because they don’t have the means to pay a large amount of money out of pocket.

On the other hand, a lawsuit against a large corporation could result in a large settlement because the corporation would rather pay than have the incident play out in the press.

Before you decide how to spend that money, you need to understand how much you will actually receive. Your attorney gets paid out of your settlement funds. They can get paid anywhere from 25%-50% of the settlement.

You may have to pay taxes on your settlement, too. The IRS usually considers a lawsuit settlement as a source of taxable income. There are a few exceptions, though.

A settlement for physical injury wouldn’t be taxable. However, a settlement for emotional harm is considered taxable. You need to have a clear understanding of what you’re responsible for. A large tax bill that’s unexpected could put you in a financial hole.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

A personal injury lawsuit is a way to recover damages when you’ve been injured and it’s not your fault.

How long does a personal injury lawsuit take? It depends on the extent of your injuries and your ability to prove that the injuries you sustained are a direct result of the incident or accident. It also depends on your attorney, the insurance company, and how long it takes to negotiate a settlement.

If your case goes to trial, it could be years before you see a settlement. You should talk to your attorney to see how long the process will take when you file your lawsuit.

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