If you’ve never been involved in a lawsuit, you likely have questions about how long things might take and what kind of timeframe to expect. Here is a quick overview of the different stages of the process:
If you become hurt during an accident, it’s important that you don’t suffer in silence. Go see a doctor as soon as you recognize that you’re experiencing pain because of your accident injuries, and keep a log of your activities. (This is, of course, assuming you weren’t admitted to the hospital after your accident.)
If the accident has caused you significant injury or loss—medical bills, lost work, pain and suffering, significant injuries, and vehicle damage—you should consult a personal injury attorney to discuss your options as soon as you can after the accident. Once you find the right lawyer, they will ask you many questions about your accident and the events resulting from it. Your lawyer will also need to collect everything related to your injury: medical records, bills, your personal logs of events and your efforts to seek medical help, etc. This process could take months. This is also the time during which your attorney will determine if you have a strong case.
Every state is different, but all states have their own statute of limitations laws, which dictate how long a person has to file a lawsuit from an accident or injury. In other words, your right (in terms of length of time) to sue after an accident is limited—in many states, the statute of limitations is two years. So, if you are in an accident, you have a set amount of time during which you can file a personal injury suit against the other person or persons involved in your accident.
There are many nuances to these rules, so it is best to consult with an experienced attorney as soon possible after your accident. The limited time period likely does not actually start until you as the injured party know that you’ve suffered harm. And again, every state’s statute of limitations rules are different.
Maximum Medical Improvement
Keep in mind that while you might be eager to get the wheels in motion, attorneys generally wait to file a lawsuit until you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This is the point where your medical situation will not improve with further treatment. The downside of waiting until you reach MMI is that it could take many months. For example, if your accident occurs and you start with physical therapy for three months, then chiropractic care and massage therapy for another three months, then back surgery and two months of recovery, only to learn from a doctor that nothing more could be done to help your pain, the attorney might file then—some 8-9 months after the accident occurred. It’s best to discuss this process and putting your health first with your attorney and doctors.
Trial or Settlement
The majority of legal claims due to personal injury are resolved through a negotiated settlement. This might take place before the lawsuit is even filed, or it might happen afterward. Your attorney will help you understand the likelihood of a settlement offer and whether your case seems strong enough to win should you go to trial. They can also help you understand how factors like how a defendant’s insurance coverage policy limits could impact things.
As for trials, in our experience, most trials take 1-2 weeks, with any award reaching the plaintiff within 30-90 days of the trial’s conclusion.
As you navigate this process, we strongly urge you to hire a seasoned personal injury attorney who understands the ins and outs of the legal system. They can answer your questions along the way.
The legal process can be lengthy, and if you’re concerned about your ability to afford an experienced attorney or pay your bills while you await resolution, call us. We can explain your options for conservative pre-settlement funding that will allow you to pay your rent and bills. Advance lawsuit funding is a non-recourse, no-risk option to get money fast that you don’t have to pay back, even if your case loses. Call us to learn more: 855-LAW-ADVANCE.