How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
Once you’ve been involved in an accident, suffered an injury, and retained an attorney, your next question is “How long will this take?” It’s a fair question, and there is no easy answer. Your attorney can give you a rough estimate based on the severity of your injury and whether the other party had insurance, but there is no definite time limit.
The Short Answer: Maybe a Couple of Years
The usual amount of time to resolve a personal injury lawsuit in Texas is about two to three years. Simple cases can sometimes be settled sooner than that, in a matter of a few months. Complex cases may take much longer, years, or even decades. The average plaintiff (you) can expect a delay of a year or more between the date of the injury and the conclusion of the case.
Why Does It Take So Long?
If you have ever built a house of cards, you will understand why a personal injury case takes so long. All the parts must be in place before any of the other parts can be put on top of them.
The first thing you need to do is get an examination and then treatment for your injury. Most legal claims cannot begin until the patient has reached what insurers call the “maximum medical improvement.” That means the doctor thinks you’re as recovered as you’re likely to get. This is when the attorneys and insurers can determine how much to demand and offer as compensation for your injuries and losses.
In cases where you are more seriously injured, and your treatment is likely to be ongoing, your attorney will decide when the best time to file a lawsuit will be.
Once the attorney has decided to file a lawsuit, they will typically give the insurance company a chance to settle. If the insurer agrees to a complete payout, for instance, if there is no doubt that their client is fully responsible for your injuries, there is no reason to go to court.
After the claim has been filed, things slow down. Once the insurance company has been notified of the lawsuit, or “served,” they have a set period to respond, up to 60 days depending on the nature of the case. In their response, they may agree with the claim, disagree, or make their own claim that you are responsible for the accident as well.
Following their response, their attorney and yours begin a process called discovery. During discovery, which can take months or years, the two sides exchange documents about the accident, medical reports, witness statements, and police reports.
During this time, the insurance company can ask for you to undergo additional medical exams, for you or witnesses to sit for depositions, and other information-gathering sessions. Negotiations will continue between your attorney and the other attorney.
If the parties still cannot agree, the case will go to trial. Both your attorney and the insurance company’s attorney will present all the evidence they have collected during discovery to a judge or jury, who will then decide on who was most at fault for the accident, and what compensation should be made by whom.
After the trial, if one side disagrees with the result, they have a right to appeal the case if they believe there was a legal flaw in the argument or the way the verdict was handled. This can add more time to the resolution of your case.
Why You Need an Attorney
As you see, the steps involved in a personal injury case are complex, and without an experienced attorney like those at Gibson Hill Personal Injury by your side, it’s easy for the average person to become overwhelmed with the flurry of paper and deadlines.
The statute of limitations in Texas is two years from the date of the accident, but you may still be receiving treatment as the date approaches. You can still file your case, and your attorney will advise you on how best to explain the degree of injury and the nature of your treatment.
If a government agency or officer injured you, there are other steps that must be taken for your case to be heard in court. If your injury occurred long ago, but you are just now experiencing the effects, such as asbestos or lead exposure, you may still be able to file a claim under different types of legislation.
For all these reasons, if you have suffered a serious injury due to someone’s negligence, you need the assistance of the legal team at Gibson Hill Personal Injury. Contact us at 512-580-8334 for a confidential consultation. Your time is limited, so call today.