It can take 1-3 years to settle or receive a verdict for a civil personal injury case. All personal injury cases are different, making it difficult to determine how long your case will take to resolve.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have options. If you’re currently in a personal injury case and wish to settle it quickly, there are several ways you can speed up each part of the process.
If you attempt a settlement and you succeed, your trial will conclude in 5 steps. After the settlement goes to trial, you’ll extend your case from a few months to several years.
It can take a few weeks to meet with a lawyer, so plan ahead and start researching law firms that have experience with your specific case. For example, The Dixon Injury Firm is one of the best law firms for workplace accidents in St. Louis, and you want one of the best in your corner.
Keep in mind that the first, second, or third attorney may not check all your boxes. It may take several law firms before you find a lawyer that fits within your budget and settlement goals.
To start any civil lawsuit, you have to:
- File a complaint in court and pay your filing fees, and;
- Give the defendant a copy of the summons and the complaint.
The statute of limitations for injury cases is between 1 to 3 years, depending on the state. With that in mind, the lawyer will start writing the complaint, which can take a week to a full year.
This time frame may be out of your control, as the complexity of the settlement, the lawyers’ decision to negotiate, and the cooperation of the defendant determine how long this will take.
The discovery step involves the pretrial process of exchanging info between the parties in the lawsuit. You’ll need to file a police report and give your lawyer a copy of the report, plus your medical records, car insurance, company emails, and security footage if applicable.
Discovery begins immediately after you file a complaint and lasts until 30 days before the trial. Make sure to hand in all of your documents early and attend deposition meetings on time.
Both the defendant’s lawyer and your lawyer will file multiple pretrial motions, which ask judges to decide on specific issues. These include everything from documents to the venue.
Some pretrial motions are lengthy and take a while to execute. For example, a motion to compel an attorney takes less time than a motion for summary judgment because it asks the judge to dismiss the case. The first example asks the attorney to hand over evidence related to the trial.
Speak to your attorney about limiting these long requests to get a settlement sooner.
Most personal injury cases settle without going to trial. After the discovery step, your lawyer will participate in settlement discussions. Your attorney likely won’t discuss every settlement discussion, but they will come to you with offers that you can accept or reject.
At this phase, the smartest thing to do is hold out until the last second, so you can get the most out of the settlement while still avoiding trial. However, if you want the settlement to be over as soon as possible, you could accept the first deal the defense team offers you and call it a day.
Ideally, the settlement should cover medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, future lost income, estimate future medical costs, and a multiplier to assess general damages.