Well, it depends. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer on the specific amount of time that a personal injury settlement can take.
And if you’re in a place where you’re currently waiting for your settlement check, there might be times where you can get impatient. You might be waiting on your check, but at the same time you still have mounting bills to pay.
In the settlement process for a personal injury, you need to manage your expectations accordingly with your lawyer since there are many factors that go into the complexity of an injury case.
Some of these factors include a backlogged court system, the insurance company not wanting to pay accordingly, and potential scheduling issues with opposing parties.
With these factors to keep in mind, it’s important to be aware of how the timeline works when it comes to filing a personal injury claim or a civil lawsuit. Let’s learn more about how this timeline works now.
Initial Steps in the Personal Injury Claim
The first step in a personal injury claim is to seek medical attention. Even if you may have not been injured from a serious car accident or otherwise, you should still seek medical attention immediately.
Go to the hospital or see your primary care doctor. Try to see what symptoms you might be experiencing, since your injuries may not be fully developed immediately after an accident. Chances are, your injuries are still developing and it may turn into something more sinister overtime.
You also need to gather as much evidence as possible. For instance, if you were in a car accident, take pictures of your vehicle and the one that hit you. Also take pictures of the at-fault drivers insurance, as well as the contact information of surrounding witnesses who saw the accident.
Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney
The next step in a personal injury settlement claim is to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney located in Salt Lake City, Utah. An attorney can help you determine the strength of your claim, while also deciding if you have a strong enough case for them to take one.
A personal injury lawyer determines the strength of the case by determining:
- The extent of your injuries
- Your medical bills that need to be paid
- Emotional distress
- Pain and Suffering
- How much property damage was sustained if applicable
When a lawyer who specializes in these claims determines the value of your case, they will decide whether it’s worth their time or not. Chances are, if you got into a minor fender bender, lawyers will likely not spend the time to take on your case. On the other hand, if there are injuries and a clear at-fault driver, it will be a better case for the attorney to take on.
After a personal injury attorney determines the value of your case, they will enter what is called pre-litigation negotiations. It will start when your attorney sends a demand letter to the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
This is the initial attempt by the parties to resolve their issues without having to go to court. If communication is successful, the attorney will meet with the insurance company lawyers to attempt getting a satisfactory settlement.
In most cases, the insurance company offers a pittance, so an attorney will then meet with the litigation team of the insurance company. All potential offers will be evaluated, and if possible, the lawyer will have to file suit if necessary.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
If pre negotiations are unsuccessful, an attorney will then file a civil lawsuit. The attorney will file a complaint with the court, paying the required filing fee.
The complaint describes in detail what the plaintiff (the injured party) wants, and why specifically they are entitled to the money that they specifically demand. The complaint is usually filed with the local county court, and after the defendant receives the letter, they have 30 days to respond with an answer to the court.
After that step, the judge will then proceed with a scheduling order that includes important dates and deadlines that will be established for specific events in a civil case. It describes how the case will work from the beginning to the end, including deadlines for the discovery phase, and when parties from both sides will meet.
Discovery Phase and Depositions
As mentioned previously, the discovery phase is a crucial step in the legal process. Both parties will meet together to discuss and exchange information on the case.
It’s usually the most expensive part of a civil lawsuit, since there can be multiple factors in a case, and it can usually take anywhere from weeks to months. The methods of discovery include the following:
- Requests for relevant documents:
- Requests for admission:
After the discovery phase is finished, both parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and both parties usually enter settlement negotiations to resolve the dispute.
Most civil lawsuits are usually settled at this stage to avoid going to trial, often with a fair settlement at this stage. But, if the discovery phase isn’t successful, the case will have to go to trial.
Going to trial requires both parties to present in front of a judge and jury. Both sides will then have time to present their arguments in front of a judge and jury.
It’s ultimately up to the jury to decide whether to vote in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. Going to trial often has both parties putting their best foot forward to present a crystal clear picture on the specific facts and circumstances of a case.
There are many phases of a trial and specific aspects of it, which can be found here.
Be Patient With Your Personal Injury Case
If you choose to hire an attorney for your personal injury case, the most important step is to be patient. If you were in a place where you were catastrophically injured, chances are your case may take longer than you may think.
It’s also vital to remember every step that goes into settling a personal injury case and knowing why settlements can take so long. Remember that your attorney is there to fight for you every step of the way and be on the side of justice.