Expertly Reviewed By: Serah Waweru, Esq., on April 12, 2023
The injury lawsuit settlement timeline varies due to different factors. Understanding these factors gives you realistic expectations regarding the lawsuit and helps you prepare for the different phases of pursuing compensation from the other party after an injury.
In addition, when you know how long lawsuits take to settle, it’s much easier to make informed decisions about whether to push forward with litigation or negotiate a settlement instead.
Let’s explore the factors that influence the injury settlement timeline and discuss different ways to speed up the settlement process.
The Average Timeline for a Personal Injury Lawsuit to Settle
Personal injury lawsuits typically take two to four years to settle, but this time frame varies depending on many factors. Examples include the following:
- the severity of the injuries
- the number of defendants involved
- the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit is filed
How Long Do Different Types of Lawsuits Take to Settle?
Different types of lawsuits can take varying amounts of time to settle.
For example, a negligence lawsuit may take longer to settle than a breach of contract lawsuit.
Many different factors need to be considered in a negligence lawsuit. To put things into perspective, the court will want to establish whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
Then, if they owed them a duty of care, the court would also find out whether the defendant was actually at fault for the accident or incident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
On the other hand, a breach of contract lawsuit typically only requires the court to determine whether the contract was actually breached. Once that’s clear, the court will decide the damages to award the plaintiff.
Factors That Influence the Injury Lawsuit Settlement Process
As mentioned, the amount of time it takes to settle a lawsuit depends on numerous factors, including:
The severity of the plaintiff’s injuries: If the claimant has suffered serious injuries, it will take longer to settle the lawsuit. Take, for example, a situation where the plaintiff needs serious medical attention, such as surgery, after getting injured due to someone else’s actions or inactions.
In that case, it could take longer to settle because the plaintiff’s attorney must ensure that their client is adequately compensated for their damages, including medical expenses.
The number of parties involved: If there are multiple defendants, each with their own insurance company, it will take longer to settle since all the parties will need to agree on a specific settlement amount.
Whether the case goes to trial: Suppose the case goes to trial. In that case, it will obviously take much longer to settle. This is because of factors such as delays in the legal system, backlogs, understaffing, etc.
The jurisdiction in which the case is filed: Some states have faster-moving legal systems than others, affecting the injury settlement timeline.
The lawyers involved: Some lawyers are more efficient in navigating complex legal processes than others, and this can also affect how long it takes to settle a case.
How to Speed Up the Injury Lawsuit Settlement Process
Here are some key factors to keep in mind to expedite the lawsuit settlement process:
Hire an experienced attorney familiar with the litigation process, including your specific case, and can provide efficient legal representation.
Organize all of your documents and evidence clearly and concisely. This allows your attorney to review them quickly and determine the strongest arguments for your case. Bear in mind that if you don’t have the required documents to build a strong case, your attorney will likely spend a lot of time trying to gather everything you need, eventually prolonging the injury settlement timeline.
Respond promptly to any discovery requests or requests for information from the opposing party.
Cooperate fully with your attorney and promptly provide any information or documentation they request.
Attend all scheduled court hearings, mediation sessions, or other appointments related to your case.
Be prepared to compromise and negotiate with the other party in good faith to reach a settlement agreement. This may help prevent the case from going to court, eventually increasing your chances of settling out of court.
How Long Do Class Action Lawsuits Take to Settle?
Class action lawsuits can take many years to resolve. Generally, the class action lawsuit timeline depends on the facts of the case and the issues involved.
These lawsuits often involve complex legal issues and require extensive discovery. The discovery process can take months or even years to complete.
Once discovery is complete, the parties will file motions with the court, which can take months or even years to resolve. After resolving, the parties involved may proceed to trial.
Trial can last for days, weeks, or even months. Once the trial is over, the court will issue a decision that may be subject to appeal.
Again, the appeals process can take months or even years to complete.
In most cases, you should expect the class action lawsuit to settle anywhere between two to three years. However, depending on the unique circumstances of the case, the settlement process could take even longer.
How Long Does It Take to Negotiate a Settlement?
It takes about three to six months to negotiate a personal injury settlement. However, this time frame can vary depending on the case’s complexity and both parties’ willingness to compromise.
The lawsuit can be settled within a few weeks if both parties can agree relatively quickly or several months or even years if they’re unwilling to cooperate.
Why Do Lawyers Take So Long to Settle a Case?
If your lawyer takes so long to settle the case, the following could be true:
Your Attorney Wants to Maximize Your Injury Lawsuit Settlement
The first reason is that the lawyer may be trying to maximize your claim. For example, let’s say you’ve been injured in a car accident and are currently undergoing medical treatment for your injuries. In that case, it makes sense to wait a little bit longer to settle the case.
The last thing you want is to settle the case and later realize that you need more money to cover your future medical expenses. Also, keep in mind that by accepting the settlement from the insurance company, you waive your right to pursue further legal action against them for the same case.
Therefore, you may end up spending your own money out of pocket if you settle the case prematurely. To avoid this, your lawyer might take longer to settle the case.
The Lawyer Wants to Strengthen Your Case
Alternatively, the lawyer may simply be taking time to ensure that all the paperwork is in order. This is because you’ll need to build a strong case against the other party to obtain a reasonable settlement for your injuries.
Gathering the required paperwork can be time-consuming, which is why your attorney may take longer to settle the case.
The Attorney Is Inexperienced or Incompetent
Lastly, the sad truth is that not all personal injury attorneys are the same. Some may take longer to settle the case because they’re inexperienced. Others may be simply incompetent and do not know how to navigate your case. This further explains why hiring a competent attorney with a proven track record of winning such cases is always advisable.
What Is the Longest Phase of a Lawsuit?
The discovery process is the longest phase of a lawsuit. This is when both sides gather evidence and prepare for trial. It can take months or even years to complete. In fact, in most cases, the discovery process ends shortly before trial.
How Long Does It Take to Reach a Settlement for a Car Accident Case?
The average car accident settlement takes anywhere from two to six weeks. However, this is just an estimate, as each case is different, and settlements can take much longer to reach. For instance, claims involving catastrophic injuries may take a shorter time to settle, usually within a month or two.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Lawsuit After Deposition?
It all depends on the unique facts of your case. In most cases, lawsuits settle 30 to 90 days after a deposition.
Litigation is a complex process, and the injury lawsuit settlement timeline depends on the specific circumstances of that particular claim. However, you can take certain steps to help speed up the process.
These steps include but are not limited to taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution methods such as out-of-court negotiations, seeking legal advice early, and staying organized with the right documentation. With careful planning and effort from all parties involved, you can expedite the settlement process, allowing everyone to move forward with their lives sooner than later.