This is the first thing that many injury victims ask a lawyer during their initial consultation. The circumstances of each potential lawsuit and claim are different, and there is no definitive answer. Generally, personal injury claims can take a few months to well over a year to resolve. This time frame is based on pre-pandemic times, and the lawsuit was aggressively pursued with few delays.
Why so long?
The process takes time because the wheels of justice turn slowly. Moreover, victims should generally wait until they sufficiently recover from their injuries, or their doctors have a clear idea of what the long-term recovery will look like. Your attorney can then start looking at the extent of the damages, loss of income during recovery, and future potential income if they cannot earn at their previous level due to injuries. Victims should also consider the cost of ongoing care and other unique factors, which may include:
- The case itself: Some cases will be relatively straightforward in assigning blame and the cost of damages. At other times, the defendants and insurance companies will dispute every detail of the case.
- Litigation takes time: The courts are busy and generally backed up, so it can take months to begin a trial. Then it may take several sessions before the judge hands down a decision.
- Strategy and gamesmanship: The defendants or insurance companies may try to drag their heels to gain an advantage if the victim gets impatient or witnesses’ memories become less clear.
- Best to be cautious: Always be suspicious if the negligent party wants to settle quickly, perhaps even before hiring a lawyer.
- Best to be prepared: It is generally best for the victim’s attorney to methodically prepare the court case even if it settles before or during litigation.
Getting the best decision possible
The victim’s attorney gets a portion of the settlement as payment, so it is in their best interest to get the biggest possible compensation. But it may make sense to settle the case before or during litigation if the defendants realize it is not in their best interests to continue fighting. It also may make sense to settle if the victim’s attorney draws upon their experience to determine that a long trial is not worth the victim’s extra time and effort.