On average, it takes about a year to complete a personal injury case, from start to finish. But that doesn’t say much about an individual case. When it comes to legal cases, the facts do matter. A personal injury suit could end almost instantly if the other party decides to settle. It could be drawn out for literally years if they don’t want to.
Let’s take a deeper look at how long an injury case can take and what could impact it.
Building a Personal Injury Case
Building a case requires documenting your injuries from the very start. It’s critical to involve an attorney quickly. Things like witness statements degrade over time. If you don’t document everything with photos, videos, and written evidence quickly, you’re more likely to experience issues when trying to prove your case. Your attorney will tell you what you need.
At a minimum, you should document your injuries. You should go to a doctor quickly. You should save all your medical files and your medical bills. You should also save any other related costs, such as documentation regarding taking off from work.
Statute of Limitations and Personal Injury
You should also consider that there is a statute of limitations for raising a personal injury case and it’s going to vary depending on where you live. Once you start your case, you no longer need to worry about the statute of limitations.
But sometimes people can forget about a personal injury case because they’re busy dealing with the aftereffects of the injury. This is another reason why it’s so important to connect with an attorney. An attorney can be working on the case for you while you worry about other things, such as getting your medical situation in order and working on your recovery.
Two years is the standard statute of limitations date for personal injury cases. So, if you have been injured within the last two years, you need to levy a case. There may be confounding factors, such as the later discovery of an injury that you didn’t know occurred. For instance, you might hurt your back but not be aware that the injury occurred until later.
But regardless, you’re going to need documentation not only of the injury but when it occurred. And again, this comes down to taking the appropriate documentation from the very beginning; something that your attorney can advise you on.
Personal Injury Settlements
In an ideal world, you can settle before going to court. Going to court often isn’t advantageous to any side, because it leads to more legal costs. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s statistics, only about 4 to 5 percent of cases ever even go to trial.
If you’ve gotten your documents together properly and your lawyer has put together a good case, it’s far more likely that you’re going to settle before going to trial. And that means that your settlement can be much faster; it just depends on how negotiations work.
What can you do to improve the chances that you get a good settlement? Again, it’s up to documentation. Documentation not only controls how strong your case is but also how much you can improve in terms of financial damages.
While there are fees for pain and suffering, financial damages are the easiest to prove and consequently the easiest to negotiate for. If you can show, for instance, that you missed out on two years of work because of the injury, you can likely get paid for those two years of work.
But you’re not going to be able to negotiate if you can’t show evidence or documentation.
Going to Trial
If you can’t reach a settlement, you’ll instead be going to trial. This can take a significant amount of time. It isn’t variable based on the skill of your attorney. While a good attorney is going to be able to put together a more competent case, it’s always possible that the entity you’re suing could simply throw a significant amount of resources behind lengthening the case.
Going to trial can feel frustrating because you aren’t always in control. While you’re able to produce your own documentation, you can’t set your trial dates; those will be set for you. And the trial can get continued for a variety of reasons, such as it being requested by the other party because they haven’t gotten their own documentation in order.
Still, if you’re able to put together an adequate case, you can hopefully get a good outcome. It’s impossible to say how long a trial will go, but you should be prepared for a relatively lengthy process.
Your attorney will be able to advise you regarding whether it’s even likely that your trial will be won and whether it’s worth the cost of the case to persist.
How long a case takes depends on a huge variety of factors. If your case is complex and requires a lot of documentation and a lot of evidence, it’s going to take much longer. If your case is relatively simple, it may settle quite fast. A lot of times, the speed may depend on the very first few weeks of the case, during which you collect documentation — because the more documentation you have, the better. This highlights the importance of connecting with your lawyer as soon as possible.
So, if you really want to know how long a personal injury suit might take, you need to talk to an Indianapolis personal injury attorney, such as Trapp Law, to get a true estimate of the time it will take.