If you have been injured due to the negligent, careless, or reckless actions (or inactions) of another party, you have thousands of thoughts flying through your mind. How will I cover medical expenses? When can I get back to work? How will I pay my bills? How will I support myself and my family? How long is the personal injury lawsuit timeline? Who can I turn to for help?
Know that you can always turn to the experienced accident injury lawyers at LaBovick Law Group. As for the timeline, every case is different. There may be factors that complicate or lengthen the process – or that streamline and accelerate it. It depends on the specifics of your situation.
We know that’s a frustrating answer! So let’s look at the steps of the process so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
A General Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline
Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment
Whether you were involved in a car accident, a boat accident, or a slip and fall, seek medical attention immediately with your primary care provider or at the emergency room. You can never be too careful when it comes to your health and safety, and adrenaline can mask symptoms.
There is another critical reason to seek medical treatment, however. If you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, these records can become an integral part of your case.
Step 2: Consult an Experienced Accident Injury Lawyer
Not all injuries or accidents merit pursuing legal action. If, however, you have sustained more than a minor injury, you may want to consider it. This is especially true if it results in significant and/or chronic pain, significant medical expenses, and/or loss of work/wages.
Knowledgeable accident injury lawyers will examine the facts of your situation to ascertain whether or not you have a viable case. From there, they will help you navigate the complex legal system.
You’ll notice that step 2 was not “Negotiate with Insurance Companies for a Settlement.” It is advisable to contact an attorney first. Insurance companies exist to make a profit; they’re businesses. They will try to limit or even deny the compensation to which you are entitled.
Offering a low ball settlement is a common tactic; they want you to go away. While the figure may sound suitable initially, you may underestimate the ongoing costs of medical treatment and the hardship of being unable to return to work in a full capacity or at all.
A personal injury lawyer can negotiate an appropriate settlement that takes into account a variety of factors. This is one area in which it is wise to avoid rushing. Take a little time to do your due diligence and vet potential lawyers (check review/rating sites, ask friends/coworkers for recommendations, interview potential attorneys, etc.).
When you feel comfortable, you will sign an agreement with the lawyer, and they will get started. For personal injury cases, most attorneys work on a contingency basis. That is, their fees are paid from your settlement, not out of your pocket. However, be sure to inquire about any other fees (e.g. accident reconstruction experts).
Step 3: Build a Compelling Case
Reliving your accident can be difficult, but it is important to tell your attorney everything you can about the situation, your injury, and any treatments you have undergone. During an initial interview, you will be asked detailed questions; it is important to answer these as honestly and completely as possible.
With this start, your attorney will then gather and review your medical records and bills, as well as any accident reports from law enforcement.
This part of the process is lengthy; rest assured your LaBovick legal team is working tirelessly on your behalf. It does take time (up to a few months) to gather these records and properly analyze them.
Your attorney may determine that it is not feasible or in your best interests to pursue a case. If so, they will tell you kindly and respectfully. It is better to know sooner rather than later.
Step 4: Explore Demands and Negotiations
Some personal injury cases are settled even before a lawsuit is filed. This is good news for you; it means you can receive compensation much sooner. Your lawyer may make a demand to the other party’s insurance company and/or attorney.
There are some instances in which your lawyer should not make a demand:
- If you have suffered permanent injury or impairment, an experienced attorney will not settle without filing a lawsuit.
- If you have not reached your point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), they should not make a demand. MMI refers to the point at which you ended your medical treatment because you have reached the maximum level of recovery possible for your injury.
Why wait? Because your attorney doesn’t know how much compensation you deserve until you have reached MMI.
If you can wait to reach MMI in terms of your finances, it is typically in your best interests to do so.
Step 5: File the Lawsuit
In Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. This seems like a long period, but your attorney needs adequate time to investigate, prepare a case, negotiate, and if necessary, file the lawsuit.
Step 6: Conduct Discovery
Discovery is the phase in which your attorney investigates the defendant’s claims. The other party’s attorney will do the same for your claims. Your lawyer will examine documents (they must be made available by the other party/attorney) and depose relevant witnesses. You are likely to be the star witness, as is the defendant.
Discovery can last six to twelve months; expect more for complicated cases.
The majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled before trial. After discovery, the attorneys will begin settlement talks. Often, they can do this themselves, or, if that proves fruitless, they may opt for mediation. If the mediator’s recommendation is not acceptable to you, you can still go to trial.
Step 8: Take the Case to Trial
This may not be necessary in your case. If it is, a trial date will be scheduled. The timeline here varies: it could be a day, a week, or longer.
Another consideration as far as your personal injury lawsuit timeline is the fact that trials get rescheduled with some regularity. This simply means that the judge’s schedule needed to change. It is not an indication of the viability of your case. It’s just a frustration that happens for any number of innocuous reasons.
Step 9: Receive the Decision
Whether judge or jury, a decision regarding your case will be made after the case is heard. If you are successful, a monetary amount will be awarded.
We know that dealing with an injury is difficult enough; fighting for just compensation is even more complex. LaBovick Law Group’s experienced accident injury lawyers are here throughout each step. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation today.