If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, chances are you have been hurt and need compensation. There are few situations more painful and frustrating than sustaining serious injuries, being unable to work like you once did, and knowing it was somebody else’s fault. It’s only natural to ask how long a lawsuit will take.
Average Time for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
An Experienced Law Firm will be the first to tell you there is no one-size-all answer to your question. Personal injury lawsuits are complex legal processes that can take time to settle. Sometimes they take months or years to complete. There are multiple reasons for this, which can vary greatly from case to case.
Every case is different, but in our experience, the average time to complete personal injury cases depends on how complicated they are. Many cases are more complicated than you might expect and can take two or three years to wrap up. Less complex cases might take a year to finish. And there are occasional cases that are so simple where liability – who’s responsible for the accident – is abundantly clear. These cases can be settled in a few weeks to a few months.
Why Personal Injury Lawsuits Take Time
Many factors dictate how long a personal injury case takes. These include:
- Type of personal injury case. Many different types of accidents fall under the personal injury umbrella, including slip and fall accidents, car accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice. Some tend to be more straightforward than others. For example, a slip and fall accident case is often simpler than a medical malpractice case.
- Extent of injuries. Usually, if the injuries are more severe, the case takes longer. It takes less time to determine the financial losses from a broken leg than it does from a traumatic brain injury.
- Amount of compensation. The more compensation sought in the case, the longer it usually takes to complete. Getting a defendant to settle for $100,000 typically takes less time than seeking a multi-million dollar settlement, for example.
- Ease of proving liability. If the other driver ran a red light and hit you, it’s fairly simple to prove their liability. But if the cause of the accident is less clear, such as a trucking accident caused by improper maintenance and lack of rest for the truck driver – which could be the fault of multiple parties – it will take time to investigate and prove liability.
- Will the defendant settle? In some cases, the defendant is eager to settle and move on. In others, the defendant will dig their heels in and fight to the bitter end.
More factors can impact case length, but this list gives you a general idea of how many issues can come up during a case.
Why Does it Have to Take So Long?
The idea of suing someone for wrongdoing seems simple enough on the surface. If you know someone caused your accident, it should be easy enough to explain it to a lawyer and have that lawyer take them to court. But the reality is that Texas courts are not going to decide in your favor unless you present a very compelling argument, one backed by strong evidence.
Building that argument takes hard work, skill, and experience. A high-quality personal injury lawyer is going to be careful, methodical, and detail-oriented. They are going to take all of the right steps to ensure that your case is as strong as possible before attempting to reach a settlement with the other party and especially before putting the case in front of the court. That kind of careful approach is time-consuming. But it’s also the most likely to get you a positive outcome and the compensation that comes with it.
What Are The Steps in a Personal Injury Case?
To give you a better idea of what is happening behind the scenes – and what is taking all that time – let’s look at some of the major steps of a personal injury lawsuit.
1. Verifying liability.
For the case to be successful, we have to be able to prove liability – that another party was negligent and that negligence led to the accident and your injuries. Sometimes liability is hard to prove, even if you are sure that it exists. It can be upsetting to set out to hire a lawyer only to have that lawyer question the validity of your claims. But it’s important to understand that they are doing so because they need to be able to prove your position.
2. Determining the nature and extent of your injuries.
You are in pain, and you are obviously hurt. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily enough to build a case on. That’s why your lawyer will ask you to go to a doctor and get your injuries documented. They need such documentation to prove your injuries.
3. Assessing the costs of your injuries, both now and in the future.
This can be another time-consuming step, but it’s a necessity. Your lawyer needs to put a dollar amount to your injuries. That means calculating your medical costs, lost work, pain and suffering, and more. But not just right now. They need to calculate how much money those things will cost you in the future as well, which can require significant research.
4. Investigating the accident.
Your attorney will investigate the accident, which may include visiting the scene, speaking to witnesses, talking to experts, hiring specialists, and more.
5. Negotiating with the other party.
If your case goes to court, it will take significantly longer to resolve and be more expensive. That’s why your lawyer will try to negotiate with the defendant to reach a settlement. This can take some time, with multiple rounds of offers and counteroffers.
6. Going to court.
Sometimes negotiations fail. If the other party will not treat you fairly with a respectable settlement, the only option is to go to court. That means filing paperwork, waiting for openings in the court system, going through a trial, and so on.
Personal Injury Cases Take Time – Which is Why You Want a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer You Can Trust
Once you realize that a lawsuit can take years, it’s easier to understand why you want a good lawyer. Not only someone who knows what they are doing but also someone you can get along with. You could be working with this person for years. Fortunately, the right attorney can significantly increase your odds of success.