If you have recently been injured, you may contemplate filing a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party. The following article will provide some information for accident victims regarding how long a typical personal injury lawsuit may take to get resolved.
What are Some Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Because there are various ways for people to get injured, there are various types of personal injury lawsuits that can be brought. Some of the most common suits include:
- Car accidents: Most personal injury lawsuits filed across the United States stem from car accidents. When an accident happens, it is usually because the at-fault party either was not following the rules of the road or was not driving as carefully as they should have been. In a car accident case, if it is determined that a driver’s actions resulted in injury to another driver (or passenger), the injured driver (or passenger) can sue that driver for his injuries and any vehicle damage.
- Slip and falls: Slip and fall cases are another common type of personal injury accident. Illinois property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises reasonably safe and free of hazards, so that people who are on the property do not become injured. This includes a duty to ensure that their property is free from any slip and fall hazards. If a property owner fails to adhere to this duty and an entrant is injured as a result, the owner could be held liable for the entrant's injuries.
- Medical malpractice: In a medical malpractice lawsuit, a claim is raised which argues that a physician or other health care professional provided treatment that fell below the appropriate medical standard of care, and that a patient was injured as a result. Medical malpractice cases can be difficult to fight, as the patient would need to show that the physician somehow acted in direct contradiction to the appropriate medical standard of care adapted by similarly-situated physicians.
- Dog bites: When a dog bites someone, that dog’s owner is usually financially responsible for any injuries and resulting medical bills that the dog causes. Specially, Illinois law states that if a dog (without provocation) attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself in any place where he may lawfully be, the owner of such dog will be liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the resulting injuries.
- Wrongful death: A wrongful death is defined as a death resulting from another person’s wrongful conduct or negligence. If the decedent would have been able to bring a personal injury claim had he survived, a surviving party (for example, a parent or spouse) can bring a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf.
- Assault and battery: Assault and battery are referred to as “intentional torts,” and are classified as incidents where one person harms or injuries (or threatens to harm or injure) another person on purpose. The victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the aggressor and demand compensation for injuries resulting from the attack.
What Factors Determine How Long a Personal Injury Lawsuit Will Take?
The length of a personal injury lawsuit is based on some of the following factors:
- The complexity of the case: The more complex your case is, the longer it will likely take to resolve. This is because more complex cases typically require obtaining extensive evidence, which is a time-consuming process.
- The amount of damages involved: If you are seeking a significant amount of damages for the injuries you have sustained, your case may take a bit longer to resolve, especially if the liable party is adamant about refusing to pay such an amount. For example, if you are seeking $1 million in damages for your injuries from an auto accident, your case is much more likely to last longer than if you were seeking only $1,000 in damages.
- The severity of your injuries: The more severe your injury is, the longer your case may take to resolve. This is because if you have a severe injury, it may take a longer amount of time for you to recuperate. An example of a severe injury is brain damage or death, versus a milder injury, such as a sprain.
- The caseload in your jurisdiction: Much of how long your case might take to resolve will depend on the court’s caseload in your jurisdiction. For example, if there are major scheduling conflicts between the parties and the court, this may extend the overall length of your case.
- The defendant’s willingness to settle: The faster the defendant decides to settle the case, the quicker your case will typically resolve. Before entering settlement negotiations, it is important that you consult with an attorney before accepting any personal injury settlement offers, as settlements are binding, meaning that they cannot be modified except in very rare circumstances.
Common Reasons Why a Personal Injury Lawsuit Might be Delayed
There are various reasons why a personal injury lawsuit might be delayed, some of which include the following:
- Delays in medical treatment: The injured person in these lawsuits are typically alleging that the conduct of someone else resulted in them suffering physical injuries that required medical care. Because most of the awards in these kinds of cases are awarded to compensate for these injuries, this means that the full extent of the plaintiff’s injuries must first be determined. Additionally, before a plaintiff can be awarded proper compensation for her injuries, her physician must either indicate that her injuries are healed or that she has reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). As a result, the period of time that it takes for the injury to heal or for a person to reach her MMI level can delay a personal injury lawsuit.
- Insurance company processing delays: If an injured plaintiff is seeking a large amount of compensation, insurance companies may purposely delay the processing of the case in court. One reason this occurs is because when a plaintiff seeks a large amount of compensation, insurance companies will ensure that they thoroughly review every detail of your claim to prevent having to unnecessarily pay such a large amount. Another reason why this occurs is because these companies hope that by continually delaying a case, the plaintiff will become impatient and choose to settle for a lower amount than he is seeking in court.
- Lack of cooperation: In some cases, the defendant and their insurance company may purposely attempt to delay the case so that the plaintiff will eventually just decide to settle. One of the tactics that the defendant may refuse to cooperate in the case. For example, defendants may purposely choose not to respond to requests for information or document production. These defendants may also make false claims against the plaintiff that require the plaintiff to spend more time defending these claims than actually addressing the defendant’s culpability. This tactic could likely cause major delays in the case.
- Typical trial delays: Most personal injury cases are resolved outside of the courtroom. Just like any other civil trial, a personal injury trial can be a very long, expensive, and unpredictable process. A personal injury trial can take months or even years to resolve, which is why these types of cases rarely go to trial.
How Long Does a Typical Personal Injury Case Take to Resolve?
Every personal injury case is different and as such, the amount of time it will take for the case to be resolved fluctuates. A lawsuit can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. However, the average case typically adheres to the following timeline:
- After hiring a personal injury attorney, that attorney will investigate the details of your claim. The attorney will need to obtain all of your medical records relating to the treatment you received for your injuries, as well as any related bills. This process usually takes at least a month after treatment is completed.
- If the insurance carrier does not make a fair offer, the attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf. The complaint that the lawsuit is based on will articulate the facts of the case, supported by legal arguments.
- Next, the discovery phase occurs. During this phase, each party investigates the other side's legal claims and defenses. This process can last anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the court's deadlines and the complexity of the case.
- After the discovery phase, the trial will occur. At trial, each party must prove his or her case before the court. A personal injury trial can last a day, a week, or could even take months, based on the factors discussed above.
Need A Personal Injury Attorney? Contact Palermo Law Group Today
If you or a loved one were recently injured and are looking for a personal injury lawyer for legal advice, contact the Palermo Law Group. Our Oak Brook personal injury law firm consists of knowledgeable attorneys with over 25 years of experience litigating personal injury cases. We will do our best to ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries and medical expenses. Please contact us today at (630)-684-2332 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with our attorney.