Perhaps the most common question we receive as a personal injury firm is “How long will it take to resolve my personal injury claim?” As much as you want to anticipate what it’s like to take legal action, there’s no universal way of handling these sensitive matters. Everyone’s story is different, and the details of each case are unique.
Several factors play a role in the litigation timeline, particularly along the lines of dealing with insurance companies and how arduous it can be to reach a settlement. When insurance companies deny or refuse to make a reasonable settlement offer, the timeframe in which your case is pursued will be extended to account for the possibility of going to trial in Pennsylvania.
The Nine Phases of a Personal Injury Case
Getting a general understanding of the time it takes to resolve your personal injury claim requires knowing the step-by-step litigation process. Outlined below are the nine broad phases of litigation, assuming that you’ve already obtained medical treatment, gathered evidence, filed a claim with your insurance, and are prepared to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer
In a matter of a few days, you will need to scope out potential personal injury lawyers for representation. While it’s vital to move fast, it’s equally important to do your research and choose an attorney with proven results, exceptional reviews, credentials, training, credibility, and experience in personal injury law.
Start your search by talking to your friends and family about any recommendations they may have and follow that up by looking online for attorneys. Once you have a selected two or three firms, schedule a case review with each and be prepared to ask a handful of questions before deciding which firm to move forward with.
Reviewing Evidence and Medical Records
Immediately following your selection of an attorney, you should expect that the next few weeks or months will be spent investigating your claim. This starts with reviewing all evidence presented and identifying the facts of your case. Your lawyer will ask you to explain your side of the story, which will require you to retrace all your steps up until the accident. You will also be prompted to describe the effects your injuries have had on your life.
To make this process more effective, gather all official documents made by law enforcement, medical professionals, eyewitnesses, and insurance companies. Place any information you personally obtained, such as photos of the accident and the other party’s contact information, in a folder. Other important documentation includes medical bills, employment timesheets and wages, and any other financial reports that outline your injury-related losses.
Initial Demands, Offers, and Negotiations
After reviewing your case’s details, your lawyer will use their professional judgment to help you determine whether you should settle or take your case to court. Typically, settlement is always the first route pursued. Based on your attorney’s calculations, they will demand an estimated dollar amount of the opposing party and their insurance company. Negotiations then begin and can last anywhere from weeks to months, depending on the insurance company’s willingness to meet your requests. If both parties come to an agreement, your case will be concluded on the value presented during negotiations and you will not have to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, the process of litigation officially begins. Your attorney will bring a lawsuit against the defendant within your jurisdiction’s statute of limitations. The lawsuit will detail the nature of your accident, the extent of your injuries, the legal reasoning for suing the defendant, and the compensatory damages you are pursuing.
Discovery and Fact-Finding
Once both parties have filed all initial documents, the next phase is discovery, a pre-trial exchange among both sides designed to gather the facts of the case. In short, discovery involves conducting depositions— sworn testimony made by witnesses—and interrogatories, which are a list of questions sent to each party to clarify facts. During discovery, either party may make a formal request to obtain evidence, including medical records, written reports by experts, or general employment information. Discovery can take months or even years, depending on the complexity of your case.
Motion to Dismiss or the Final Attempt to Settle
Following discovery, one last attempt will be made to resolve your case in the weeks or months leading up to the trial date. Because both parties have a better idea of what is forthcoming, the opposing party may be more eager to settle knowing your case’s value. On the other hand, the opposing party may deem the evidence presented during discovery as insufficient and file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit altogether.
If no motion to dismiss or settlement is made, your attorney will prepare your case for trial. Pretrial procedures have many purposes, but the main goal is to simplify the trial. All counsel will be required to attend a conference to discuss the various aspects of the case and lay out all evidence and witness testimony that will be presented to ensure there are no surprises come the day of trial.
A civil trial is an ordered process where both sides present fact-based evidence to the jury, who then come to a collective decision on how much the defendant should pay for damages. Going to trial can be an intimidating experience and could last a few days, which is why it makes all the difference to have an attorney you trust on your side.
Appeals and Post-Trial Motions
Although a verdict has been reached, your case may not be over just yet. If either party disagrees with the court’s decision, both sides have the right to file an appeal to the Superior Court. Unfortunately, this can delay your payment and extend the time it takes to resolve your case.
Injured in Pennsylvania? You Deserve Full Compensation
The process of litigation can be intimidating for anyone. Those in a state of vulnerability and grief after suffering injuries don’t have to go through each of the steps alone. A Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can lead you to a better litigation journey and greater overall confidence in your case. Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. is composed of experienced and widely recognized lawyers that will act as your support network while you embark into these new, uncharted waters.
At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, we draw on more than 270 years of collective experience providing high-quality representation. Collectively, our injury lawyers share a dedication to a client-centered focus that allows our firm to grasp the situations each of our clients face from their point of view. The people of Pennsylvania know they can turn to use no matter what legal matters they face. To learn more about your case, schedule a free consultation by completing a confidential online contact form or calling (215) 822-7575 today.