It can take quite a long time to settle a personal injury lawsuit. Depending on your situation, the particulars of your case and yours and your attorney’s realistic expectations of the outcome of your claim can all influence how long it takes to settle your lawsuit.
The first thing to realize is that “settling” a lawsuit generally refers to settling your case out of court, either through negotiation with the person or entity you are suing, or through pretrial mediation. This option is actually the more common way to resolve a personal injury lawsuit, as few cases actually go to trial. Settling out of court offers a number of advantages for both sides, as a protracted legal fight can be emotionally and financially draining. Adding into the fact that a personal injury attorney generally works on a contingency basis, that is they get paid a portion of any moneys recovered, fighting a case in court can diminish the amount of money a claimant receives.
Settling a personal injury lawsuit can then take as long as is necessary to resolve the issue at hand. If an issue is complicated, involves many defendants, encompasses a variety of injuries, then the resolution can take weeks, months or even years. Smaller cases, as are generally more common, can take a few days or weeks once attorneys from both sides begin negotiating. Once both sides agree on a settlement, the payment is made, the lawyers take their share of their contingency fee and any expenses they incurred during the course of their representation, and the claimant receives a check.
Should the parties involved not reach an agreement through out of court negotiations or through mediation, there is little choice left but to go to court and present the facts for a judge or a jury to decide. Should this happen you should be prepared for a long and consuming battle that can tax your resolve and push your limitations. Any time you deal with the legal system you should be prepared for an ordeal of confusing paperwork, interminable waiting times and a bureaucracy that often appears to care little about your individual situation.
But, if your opponent is intractable in their position and refuses to compromise, you should never hesitate to fight them to claim restitution for the damages they caused you. The right personal injury attorney can give you the strength to carry on in the face of adversity, organize your case to present the facts logically and clearly, and help you fight for the justice you deserve.
The one thing that your personal injury attorney should do above all is to give you a realistic assessment of your situation. If they don’t think your case is strong enough to go to court, they should tell you. If they think that the negotiated offer was fair, and that going to court would diminish that, they need to let you know before you decide to take the final plunge into the legal system.
Your lawyer ultimately works for you, and will do what you tell them to, so the decision sits with you. However, choosing an experienced and dedicated legal mind early in the process will make it that much easier to listen to them when they offer you that advice.