Whether you’re a relatively new driver or you’ve been on the road for the last three decades, it’s possible for anyone to get into a car accident. It can be a traumatic experience. and when all you want to do is heal and get your life back to normal, filing a personal injury lawsuit is probably the last thing on your mind.
But the faster you get started with this process, the better. Not sure what the average car accident lawsuit timeline looks like? Keep reading to find out.
Seek Medical Treatment
The first step you need to take after any car accident is to seek out the appropriate medical care. In some cases, your injuries may be minor. In others, you’ll need to be taken to the ER for treatment immediately. The extent of your injuries and the treatments needed to heal them will often play a part in determining whether you’ll be able to pursue a lawsuit or not. Regardless, make sure you receive the appropriate medical care and that you keep an excellent record of said care and the associated expenses.
Report Your Accident
After you’ve received the immediate medical care you require, it’s important to report your accident. The laws surrounding this step vary from state to state. For example, in New Jersey, you must report a car accident to the NJDOT within 10 days of the incident if it caused death, injury, or damage. This report will provide important information about the accident and the damage it caused. It’s also important to file a police report as soon as possible after your accident. Again, this will contain important information that could help you if you choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
File Your Official Complaint
In order for a personal injury lawsuit to begin, you (the plaintiff) must file a complaint. This complaint will be followed by a series of actions that we’ll review here:
- The plaintiff will serve a copy of their official complaint to the other party (the defendant) involved in the car accident. This could take anywhere from a few days to several months if a defendant is difficult to contact.
- The defendant will then answer the complaint within a certain period of time, typically specified by state law.
- Discovery will then take place, in which each party’s attorney will request and send information that could be used in a trial.
- After the discovery period, your case will proceed to mediation or trial.
While most car accidents will settle in mediation and won’t result in a trial, there are always exceptions. If there is still a dispute over who is at fault after the discovery period, it’s likely that a trial will occur. Considering the three most common causes of car accidents in the U.S. are distracted driving, drunk driving, or speeding, there’s always someone at fault. In a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will be attempting to prove the other party is responsible for your injuries and suffering. This is the basis of a personal injury claim.
How Long Does All of This Take?
When all is said and done, a personal injury lawsuit that makes it to trial without appeal will likely last at least a full year. That being said, those types of cases are typically in the minority. Car accident cases most often settle out of court, which takes a lot of time out of the equation entirely.
When more than 64% of Americans own some kind of smart device, distracted driving accidents are unfortunately common. If you’ve been hit by a distracted driver, it’s important to understand what you’ll be getting into if you choose to file a personal injury claim. We hope this information helps. Drive safely.