If you have suffered an injury due to another person’s negligence or carelessness, your first question after whether you can sue that person (and/or their employer or a third party) is how quickly you are going to be able to collect the compensation you are owed under the law. That’s exactly what you should be thinking about, as the whole point of a personal injury lawsuit is to require that those who negligently cause injury and losses to others should bear the costs for the consequences of their actions. And persons who are injured often face large medical bills at the same time they are dealing with physical and emotional injuries that may make it difficult to earn income, thus making a speedy recovery all the more desirable.
Every case is of course different, but the three primary factors that will likely affect your timeline for financial recovery in your personal injury suit are: 1) the strength of the evidence in your favor showing fault on the part of the other party; 2) the amount of damages you are claiming (the more money at stake, the longer it may take to litigate and negotiate an outcome); and 3) the willingness of both parties (you and the defendant) to reach a settlement.
The Initial Stage of Building Your Claim
The first step in a personal injury claim is to reach out to a personal injury attorney who will make an initial assessment of whether you have a potential claim and what evidence is available and/or necessary to prove that claim. While the fact that you are injured may of course be undeniable, you will only be able to recover if your attorney is able to present enough evidence of fault on the part of the other party (essentially that the other party acted unreasonably in a given situation, and you were foreseeable injured as a result) to the other party in the case of a settlement or a judge or jury in the case of a trial.
Some cases present more clear evidence of negligence, such as when a drunk driver hits a pedestrian while running a red light and the whole thing is caught on video. But other cases may take weeks or even months to collect and present evidence of fault, which can make the process last longer.
Negotiating a Personal Injury Settlement
Your attorney will also be collecting evidence of what your full range of damages are during the process, which includes working with medical caregivers to understand the extent of your injuries and the total cost of care for your injuries over your lifetime. Again, this can vary greatly based on the injury, especially with catastrophic injuries such as brain and spinal injuries.
Once your attorney has a solid sense of 1) your total damages; and 2) the evidence in your favor showing fault, the attorney will be well-equipped to negotiate with the defendants to reach a settlement for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Litigation is expensive for defendants, and so they are often motivated to reach a settlement which avoids the cost and uncertainty of trial.
If the defendant is willing to settle for an amount that is amenable to you, then the process can end here. But neither plaintiffs or defendants are required to accept a settlement that is less than ideal, and so either party can choose to go on to trial, which lengthens the process.
Going to Trial
If settlement does not occur, the parties will proceed to trial. Before the actual trial begins, there may be depositions and other requests by both sides to provide information relating to the case. There may also be various motions asserted by both parties to the judge overseeing the case prior to trial. This process generally takes months, although the parties are free to reach a settlement at any point during this process.
The actual trial itself may take only a few days, but can go longer when the case is more complicated and involves an abundance of complex evidence. A judge or jury will then deliberate to decide the outcome.
Again, every case is different and the timeline for recovery will depend greatly on the personalities involved. Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney about the specifics of your potential case.
Call a New Jersey / New York Personal Injury Attorney Today
The experienced personal injury attorneys at SK Law have won over $90 million in compensation for our clients, and we are here to stand by your side as your allies and champions in winning the recovery you deserve from all potential defendants. Contact us today to speak to a personal injury attorney about your personal injury and what our team can do to fight for maximum recovery on your behalf.