Generally speaking, your lawyer will attempt to resolve your case without the cost and time associated with the litigation process. However, there are times when a case does not settle in pre-litigation for a multitude of reasons, ranging from a low-ball offer from the adverse party to issues with liability. Every good law firm has good litigating attorneys on staff for scenarios when a case cannot get resolved amicably before a court.
Once a lawsuit is filed, the litigation process can take anywhere from 12 months to 5+ years. Depending on who you are asking, you will get a different answer as to WHEN to file a lawsuit and which case facts support litigation. For purposes of saving the clients’ MONEY, Most law firms strive to settle all claims before filing a lawsuit. When there are fewer expenses on a claim, more of the money goes to the client. However, there are certain times when filing a lawsuit is absolutely necessary to settle a claim. When the time comes that you must file a lawsuit on your claim, unfortunately, the litigation process can be very long and slow.
There are several reasons why litigation takes a very long time:
- Courtrooms are run over with criminal cases, divorce cases, juvenile cases, and the fact is that courts are very behind and can be very inefficient;
- In some cases, and although it cannot be proven, defense counsel actually wants the case to drag on because the defense firm gets compensated on an hourly basis. So the more hours that they work, the more money they receive from the insurance company, their boss. This concept is a big deal because opposing counsel, the people you are negotiating with, have no interest in settling the claim quickly. If the claim settles quickly, then they do not get to bill a bunch of hours (again, this is speculation);
- Sometimes the plaintiff firm does not push the case along. At good law firms, the attorneys are prompt to request the Docket Control Conference (DCC), which is the conference that sets deadlines and a court date for the case;
- There are many aspects that go into a lawsuit, including depositions, the designation of experts, discovery, research, etc…
Often, the most vital thing to do with a lawsuit is to manage expectations. Unfortunately, there is not much the plaintiff attorney can do to push the process along other than be diligent and the squeaky wheel still gets the oil. Once all of the dates are set through the DCC, there is a lot of downtime in regards to client involvement with the litigation process. It is important to understand that a lot of the work on a lawsuit is done behind closed doors. Be patient and if you hire a good, reputable law firm, you should be in good hands.