If you've been the victim of a careless driver, you are probably eager to put the entire thing behind you and get on with your life. You may have asked your personal injury lawyer about when you can expect to finally get the monetary damages you need and to deserve, and the response was likely "it depends." Read for some guidance on what to expect and when.
Is Your Case Simple or Complicated?
The more involved your case, the longer it will take to resolve. Complicated cases might involve more than two parties, extraordinary medical expense and injuries and whether a private party or a business or government party is part of the case. Simple cases may be those that involve only two parties, lower money damages and a willingness to settle quickly. Of course, numerous cases fall between the two.
Here are few example comparisons:
- Simple accident with clear fault: A few months
- Accident with fault in question: Several months to a year
- A claim of $20,000: A few months
- A claim of $1,000,000: A few months or even years
- Injuries under $50,000: A few months
- Injuries over $50,000 & future medical expenses: Several months to a year
These are just generalizations, and cases vary depending on many factors. Your attorney probably is hesitant to provide you with a time for a completed case, but it might help to know the order of events and how they might unfold:
1. Get an attorney: If you had to be hospitalized, missed work or are having trouble with insurance claims, you may need representation.
2. Let the other party know your intentions: Commonly, a demand letter spells out your case and asks the other party for a certain sum of money. You will usually hear back from the other side within a few weeks.
3. File suit: A settlement is always possible, but your lawyer will file suit if your request for damages is not honored. Your case is scheduled according to the caseload in your area. It may be months before you have an opportunity to plead your case in court.
4. Discovery: This process involves parties sharing documents, information, and a deposition and it can take anywhere from one month to six or more months. Sometimes parties drag their feet and delay complying with requests and prompt the need for hearings and orders.
5. The trial: Again, the complexity of the case dictates the time spent in court. You should not expect a case to proceed in a straight line, however. Attorneys and judges are involved in other cases, and your case may suffer from continuances and delays.
6. Judgment and payment: If awarded money damages you can expect to be paid in about a month unless an appeal is filed.
Speak to a personal injury attorney to learn more.