How Long Does A Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the careless, negligent, or wrongful actions of somebody else, you are likely entitled to compensation. Often, personal injury matters are resolved through settlements with the insurance carriers involved.

However, it may be necessary for a personal injury victim and their attorney to file a lawsuit in civil court in order to recover compensation. Most personal injury victims ask us how long it will take for their personal injury lawsuit to settle.

There is no specific amount of time set by law for these cases to be resolved, and they are many factors that go into the timeframe surrounding a personal injury lawsuit.

Time limits are of the utmost importance

First, personal injury victims need to ensure they file their case as soon as possible. In Illinois, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date an injury occurs. This means that the injury victim has a two-year window with which to file their claim against the alleged negligent party, or they will lose the ability to recover the compensation they are entitled to.

Filing the personal injury lawsuit and the lengthy process

Most personal injury claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers, and an insurance settlement could take months to reach. However, if the insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies a claim, a lawsuit may be necessary.

After the personal injury lawsuit is filed and enters the civil court process, this does not mean it will go right to trial. There are various steps that occur in between the filing of a lawsuit and an eventual trial, and each of these can take some time:

  • Investigations. Attorneys from both sides will need to conduct a complete investigation into the case. This includes gathering any video or photo evidence, analyzing accident reports, speaking to eyewitnesses, working with accident reconstruction experts, and more.
  • Discovery. The discovery phase of a personal injury trial process is when attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant will exchange evidence and have opportunities to ask questions of the other side. It may be necessary to take depositions during this phase of the process.
  • Negotiation and mediation. Throughout the personal injury trial process, attorneys for both sides will likely engage in good faith negotiations to reach a settlement. Sometimes, a judge may order that both sides go through a formal mediation process before a trial date could be scheduled. Negotiations are often ongoing, and the evidence gathered during this process will influence the negotiation process.
  • The trial. If a negotiated settlement cannot be reached, a trial date will be set. Sometimes, a trial date is not set until years after the initial incident occurs. At trial, a jury will hear evidence from both sides and make a decision as to whether or not the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s entries. The jury will also determine how much compensation the plaintiff will receive if any at all.

There are often years of time between the filing of a personal injury case and its eventual resolution at trial. Again, these cases are usually resolved well before they reach trial, but there is no guarantee related to how long any single personal injury lawsuit will last.

Work with an attorney

It is crucial for a victim to work with a personal injury attorney in Chicago who can help them through this process. These cases become incredibly complicated, but an attorney will have the resources and legal expertise necessary to ensure their client is treated fairly throughout the case.