How long will my personal injury case take?
It’s the third most frequent question in my business. Like the other two: “Do I have a case”, and “How much is my case worth”, the answer depends on any number of variables. Even though the answer is going to vary from case to case, some generalizations can be made. The length of time to resolve a case is going to depend on the severity of the injury, the process of recuperation, if litigation is necessary, and the venue of that litigation, including any appeals.
An overview of the process looks something like this:
- treatment and recuperation for the client/ investigation and information gathering for the lawyer.
- demand and negotiation
Thankfully, most people involved in car crashes aren’t injured in a life threatening way. To be sure, I’ve handled a multitude of cases over the years where a decent, hardworking person has been involved in an accident that forever alters the course of their life. They face years of treatment, surgeries and grueling recuperation. Thankfully, that does not happen to most people involved in car accidents. Most people involved in car accidents have injuries that resolve within three to six months.
Notice I did not say that these injuries were not serious. That, frankly, is what the insurance company typically does. Anyone who has ever been injured by the fault of another knows that backhanded insult is a serious matter.
I said that the typical injuries resolve within 3 to six months. At the end of the acute treatment stage, a process of demand and negotiation begins.I provide the information I gathered, and submit a demand for settlement to the insurance company, which in turn may deny the claim, or make an offer. If the claim is denied, or an insufficient offer that cannot be negotiated upward is made, litigation ensues. Obviously, if a settlement offer is accepted, the case concludes. If there is good faith negotiation, the back and forth may take a few months. If the negotiation process is ultimately unsuccessful, the next step is taken. Most cases resolve at this phase of "pre-suit" negotiation. But certainly not all cases. It is not at all uncommon for an insurance company to make an offer in an attempt to get rid of the open claim. Occasionally, we see that such offers are fair, reasonable, and made in a good faith attempt to resolve the claim. More often, we tend to see the insurance company submit a lowball offer, and subsequently offer only a small increase as their "final offer". If the insurance company denies the case, as frequently happens, there is really little to think about. I ask the court to determine fair compensation for my clients. When the insurance company engages in negotiation unlikely to settle a case, there is also generally little to think about. The filing of a lawsuit is required.
Litigation, this final stage, is the formal filing of a lawsuit in court.
In Maryland, this is done in District Court, or in Circuit Court. The initial trial date in District Court is typically about 3 months from the date of filing. The times involved are longer in Circuit Court, with the trial date not set for a year, or perhaps more, from filing. COVID19/ coronavirus: Delays and Effects on Trial Dates.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 7/9/20.