When you have a personal injury case, one your main concerns is how long your case will take before it is resolved and you receive compensation. The statute of limitations in New York stipulate that personal injury cases should be filed within the first three years after the incident. This means that your case will start as soon as you initiate a personal injury claim. It is prudent to wait until you have received the initial medical treatment. While you may want to settle early, you may receive a lesser amount than your claim is worth.
There are several factors that will influence the length of your personal injury case. Most of these factors are outside your control. However, there are some that you can influence. One of the ways to ensure that your case does not take longer than is necessary is to consult with a personal injury lawyer. There will be a series of events that follow this, each with their own time lines.
Lawyer Investigates the Claim
Once you enlist the services of a lawyer, the lawyer will interview you to find out the details of the accident. The lawyer will also review your medical records and the treatment you received. This is a pretrial discovery stage. The legal expert can consult with medical experts to fully understand the extent of your injuries. The investigative process can take weeks or months. If you cooperate with the personal injury lawyer, the process can move faster. This is the stage where the lawyer will tell you whether you have a case or not. If the merits of your case are valid, the lawyer will proceed to the next phase.
Making Demands and Negotiations
Many injury cases are settled outside of court. Settlements are less expensive, and they take a shorter time. At this stage, the lawyer will make demands to the insurance company of the party at fault. The amount asked for is based on the merits of your injuries. If the insurance adjuster agrees to the offer, the personal injury case can be settled in a matter of days.
If you have suffered a permanent injury or impairment, the lawyer may choose not to settle but file a lawsuit. Again, the lawyer will not be too quick to file the lawsuit until the plaintiff has reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI) point. This is the stage where the injured party has received full medical treatment and is recovering. Demanding a settlement before this point would be premature. This is because the lawyer is not certain how much the treatment will cost.
The treatment stage can take months or years before the injured party reaches the MMI point. If the plaintiff has immediate medical bills. The lawyer can advise them to make a claim for “med pay.” Med pay is not contingent on who is at fault. It just covers for the immediate medical bills in the event of an accident.
Filing of the lawsuit
If negotiation or settlement efforts have failed, the lawyer proceeds to file a lawsuit. There are also cases where the lawyer may decide that going to trial is the best option for his client. When the lawsuit is filed, the case can take up to 2 years before it goes to trial. This depends on how busy the courts and the judges are.
There is no specific time as to how long trial can last. It can take days, weeks or even months. The length of the trial may be longer because most courts conduct trails for half a day. Judges take the afternoon to handle other issues. In most cases, the trial date can be postponed depending on the availability of the judge. You should not panic when the trial gets rescheduled. This is standard practice. The best you can do here is hope that it does not drag for too long.
While the length of a personal injury case cannot be predicted, having a personal injury lawyer working on your case can help to speed up the process. If he has a good team of associates, they will conduct investigations in a speedy manner. The lawyer will strive hard to ensure that your case is resolved within the shortest time possible.