There is no average personal injury lawsuit timeline. It could take a few months for your personal injury case to resolve, or you could go to trial and receive compensation a year or more after you file your lawsuit. Each case must go through specific steps to reach a settlement or get a court award, and there is no way to determine how long this process could take.
Involving a personal injury law firm as early as possible in your case offers several benefits. Personal injury lawyers can explain the next steps and put a potential timeline on your claim. They also handle the entire legal process from beginning to end. You can focus on healing from your injuries while they take care of the rest.
Every Personal Injury Claim Begins with an Investigation
When you hire an attorney to help you get justice and fair compensation after personal injuries, the first thing they’ll do is investigate your accident. This process could allow them to:
- Determine and document what happened
- Identify the liable party
- Accurately value your claim
How long it takes to investigate the incident and how complicated it becomes depend on what happened and the available evidence. It could be as simple as obtaining a police report, interviewing a couple of witnesses, and compiling your medical bills from all your medical providers.
However, some cases require additional action, including:
- Working with accident scene reconstruction experts
- Hiring expert witnesses to substantiate injuries and long-term care needs
- Identifying and requesting video evidence
- Preserving evidence from the liable party
- Analyzing medical records
- Documenting accident damages
- Calculating future care needs and necessary medical treatment
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
Filing the Insurance Claim and Settlement Negotiations
After your accident attorney has built a solid case to support your claim and you reach maximum medical improvement, they will likely file an insurance claim on your behalf. Most personal injury cases settle at this point and never require suing the at-fault party. Your lawyer will manage your legal claim and personal injury settlement negotiations from start to finish.
An out-of-court settlement requires that your attorney present solid evidence to show the other party caused your injuries through negligence. After negotiating with your lawyer, the liable party or their insurance company may agree to pay you an acceptable settlement.
This settlement agreement allows you to receive fair compensation in exchange for signing away your right to pursue further damages based on this accident. Your lawyer will explain the details further.
When do I Need to Sue?
Your attorney may suggest suing the at-fault party for any of these reasons:
- The insurer refuses to agree to a fair settlement
- The at-fault party blames you for causing or contributing to the incident and your injuries
- The deadline for filing suit is near
Each state has a statute of limitations that sets a deadline for suing the liable party in a personal injury case. In general, you have from one year to several years, depending on where you live in the Gulf South:
- Two years in Alabama: Ala. Code § 6-2-38
- Three years in Arkansas: Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-105
- One year in Louisiana: La. Civ. Code Art. 3492
- Three years in Mississippi: Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49
However, exceptions to these statutes could reduce or extend the time you have to begin your lawsuit. Your attorney will monitor the deadlines in your case. This could affect the period of time they wait to sue or otherwise change the timeline of your case.
What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Filing your lawsuit officially begins the process. Your personal injury lawyer will submit a document, known as the complaint, to the appropriate civil court. Then, they will have a deputy or process server “serve” the liable party to notify them of the lawsuit.
Discovery and the Pretrial Process
The next step is discovery, when each side seeks facts about the case and gathers evidence from the other party. The discovery process could include answering written questions (interrogatories) and conducting interviews under oath (depositions). The discovery phase could take several months or longer.
Continued Accident Settlement Negotiations
Throughout discovery and pretrial motions, accident settlement negotiations generally continue with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Many personal injury claims settle during this part of the litigation process.
As the insurer sees the legitimate reasons why you and your attorney push forward with the case to hold their policyholder accountable, they are often willing to increase their offer. Settlement talks often continue until the trial date arrives and sometimes after it begins.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Next, you will go through the process of mediation or another type of guided negotiation to attempt to reach a settlement agreement. Cases often settle at this point. If not, the judge will schedule your trial date on the court docket.
Personal Injury Trial
The vast majority of cases settle before necessitating a trial. If the case does go to trial, you can expect it to last at least a day or two, although some trials run much longer. Each side will present their arguments, and the judge or jury will decide if you will receive compensation and how much.
An Attorney Can Help from the Beginning
One of the best ways to ensure you know what to expect and keep your personal injury case moving forward is to have a law firm on your side throughout the process. They will help from the very start, working to recover fair compensation for you based on the facts of your case.
Most personal injury attorneys offer complimentary case evaluations. Many work on contingency fees, meaning you pay no upfront costs. These facts can make it easier to secure financial recovery even if you struggle to pay your bills after your accident.
Morris Bart, LLC Protects the Rights of Personal Injury Accident Victims
At the Morris Bart law firm, we are here for you. The areas we serve include all of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We have someone available now to discuss the merits of your case and explain the next steps you should take.
Contact us online or via phone today to get started with your free case review.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.