Muller Brazil is regularly asked how long it will take for a claim to be resolved and what the personal injury lawsuit process involves. A personal injury claim is generally resolved in 1 to 2 years, and includes multiple steps including but not limited to:
- Medical treatment
- Case evaluation
- Demand letter
- Filing of your claim
- Mediation and negotiation
A Step-by-Step Guide to Personal Injury Lawsuits
What is the average length of a personal injury lawsuit?
While every case is different,, a personal injury claim is generally resolved in 1 to 2 years. How long a personal injury lawsuit may take for you is dependent on its own unique set of facts. Continue reading for the typical step-by-step process to settlement.
The most important thing for your health and case is to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after you sustain a personal injury. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more likely the insurance company is to downplay the severity of your injury. Your medical records are the basis of your claim, both evidence of your injury and severity of your injury.
If you are having even the slightest symptoms following an incident and/or continue to have even mild symptoms, it is imperative that you continue to treat with a physician, so your symptoms are recorded. Our office will continue to follow up with you on your condition and what treatment you are receiving, and recommend providers if necessary, during this phase. The insurance company may attempt to contact you while you are treating for your injury, but you should not speak with the insurance company about your injury or treatment directly; we communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Once you have completed treatment, your condition has plateaued, or your provider has assessed that you require ongoing indefinite treatment for your injury, our office will review your medical records which we obtain directly from your providers, out of pocket medical expenses, and wage loss documentation. Upon review of your records and damages documents, we will evaluate your claim and determine whether or not your claim is supported by the evidence. The process takes a few months and our office will inform you of the viability of your claim following our evaluation.
After we have reviewed your records and determined that your claim is viable, we prepare a demand letter which describes your injury, treatment, and damages, and submit it to the insurance company to kickoff pre-litigation negotiations. Once the insurance company reviews our demand letter, medical records, and damages documentation, we will receive a response to our demand involving either a settlement offer or rejection of our demand. We will contact you immediately upon receipt of any settlement offer we receive from the insurance company to discuss it with you and assist you in making the right decision for yourself.
There is generally some back and forth during negotiations, both the insurance company and us making counteroffers, until a final offer is made, which can generally take a week to two months. If you decide to accept an offer at this stage, we inform the insurance company and your claim will not be filed. The decision to settle is always yours to make and we will not agree to a settlement with the insurance company without your approval.
The Claim is Filed
If you decide to not accept an offer during the demand letter phase, we inform the insurance company and file your claim shortly after and before your statute of limitations. Filing your claim involves preparing your complaint which describes your injury, treatment, and damages, and file your lawsuit in the appropriate court to kick off litigation. From the time your lawsuit is filed, it may take 1 to 2 years to go to trial.
The discovery phase is an investigation period, where both parties investigate the other’s claims and defenses. Plaintiff(s) and Defendant(s) each provide the other with interrogatories (questions) and requests for documents, and take depositions of relevant parties and witnesses. Discovery can take 6 months to 1 years, depending on the complexity of the case.
Mediation and Negotiations
Once the discovery process ends, the parties may go back to the negotiating table and attempt to resolve the dispute with the need for a trial. Negotiations may take place similar to that of the demand phase, or may require mediation. If mediation is necessary, a neutral third party mediator will assist the parties in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their positions and facilitate a settlement agreement. As discussed above, if you decide to accept an offer at this stage, we inform the insurance company and your lawsuit will conclude. The decision to settle is always yours to make and we will not agree to a settlement with the insurance company without your approval. This process takes 2-3 months depending on the parties and availability of a mediator.
If your claim cannot be resolved during settlement negotiations or through mediation, a trial date will be set. Trials may get delayed but that is not a reflection of your case and may simply be a result of a scheduling issue with the judge or other party, or some other irrelevant reason. A trial may not take place for 1 to 2 years, and may take a day, week, or longer to conduct. During the trial, the plaintiff and witnesses will testify and the attorneys will present evidence in support of their position.
At any time, the parties may agree to settle the claim, which includes during the trial. As discussed above, if you decide to accept an offer at any stage, we inform the insurance company and your case will conclude. The decision to settle is always yours to make and we will not agree to a settlement with the insurance company without your approval.
Request a Free Case Evaluation
If you’ve been injured and want to get your case evaluated by a professional, don’t hesitate to contact us. The evaluation is free. We don’t get paid until you are compensated for your injuries.