In typical lawyer fashion, and as you will hear many difficult questions answered, I will answer this important question with: “it depends on the totality of the circumstances.” Every case is its own entity and carries with it its own shelf-life. There are a few factors that will help us solve the riddle of how long a personal injury case can take. The first and most crucial factor when determining how long an injury case will take is: how severe are your injuries? The settlement process begins and the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is seen when the patient/claimant/plaintiff is done with medical treatment.
The attorney cannot settle or attempt to settle your personal injury claim until the attorney knows the full extent of your injuries and the full damage model. In the interest of justice and in the best interest of the client, most attorneys will not attempt to settle your personal injury claim until a substantial portion of your treatment is complete. Attorneys cannot speed up time and injuries do not heal faster than physically capable. The case is almost always going remain open until your injuries are almost entirely resolved. The extent of the injuries that you sustain in a car crash is often tied to how severe the collision was.
As a rule of thumb, the longer your treatment plan is stemming from an automobile accident, the longer the case will likely last. Similarly, if a plaintiff has minor injuries and resolves with treatment after 2 weeks, that plaintiff’s case will likely be shorter than a plaintiff whose treatment lasted for 10 weeks. Another factor for determining how long you can expect your case to last is whether your attorney needs to file a lawsuit.
If your law firm needs to file a lawsuit for one reason or another, the case will last much longer than one that is resolved prior to litigation. There are extra steps, including depositions, discovery, designating experts, filing orders and motions, that slow down the process. A case in litigation can be handled relatively quickly, but most of the time these cases take 12 months or longer. On the contrary, if a lawsuit is not filed, the case can be handled very swiftly and efficiently.
Pre-litigation cases are only limited to the extent of injuries and the length of treatment. Once treatment is completed, even the most complex of cases can be resolved within 3-4 months.