When you file a personal injury case in California, expect your case to take anywhere from three months to two years to completely resolve. Your personal legal timeline will vary based on the complexity of your case, the seriousness of your injury, the level of legal representation on both sides, and the strength of your initial case file.

The Timeline of a Personal Injury Case in California

The average personal injury case timeline starts with an accident that’s caused by someone else and leads to a significant injury. The injured person typically has to seek out treatment and also cover the initial expenses associated with losses they’re experiencing. Once they’re in a position to do so, they may consider seeking out a personal injury case against the responsible person. A claim will allow the injured party to get the money they need to cover the expenses that were the result of someone else’s behavior.

To properly leverage your rights after an accident, there are specific steps in a personal injury case that you must follow. In general, you should report the accident, get medical care, document your losses, and then contact an attorney. From there, the timeline of your case will look something like this:

  1. Initial consultation. You and your attorney will discuss the details surrounding your accident and injuries. Your lawyer will determine if they think you have the basis for a case or not.
  2. Evidence gathering and investigations. Next, your attorney will work towards gathering all the evidence you need to prove your losses, what happened during the accident, and who is at fault.
  3. Compiling and filing your claim. Your lawyer will compile all the evidence together and officially file the paperwork to start your claim.
  4. Negotiations. Most cases are settled during the negotiation process where you and the other party will strike a deal on how much you should get paid.
  5. Settlement or trial. You will either receive a settlement award or take your case to court if the other party isn’t willing to resolve the situation fairly.
  6. Receiving your check. You receive your compensation and pay your attorney fees.

Key Factors That Determine the Length of Your Case

The steps taken in personal injury cases are usually straightforward, but your specific case duration will depend on several factors. In general, you don’t want to assume that there will be a quick resolution to your situation, even if you think the facts in your case are clear. The other party isn’t going to want to pay you a sum of money without having you provide the proper proof.

So, how long does it take to settle a personal injury case? It can take anywhere from a few months to two years depending on the following factors:

The Severity of Your Injuries

The number one factor that will influence the timeline is the severity of your injury. When your injuries are substantial, there are usually more damages in cases of personal injury situations. Damages refer to the losses you experience due to your injury including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, or other losses you suffered.

When asking how long personal injury cases take to settle, you need to consider if your injury will lead to long-term losses. If so, then you must consider those before presenting your case to the other party. It will take longer to identify, value, and prove long-term losses in substantial injury claims.

The Complexity of the Factors in Your Case

Another factor that could cause your case to take longer is complex situations. For instance, when legal liability might be shared between several parties, your case will inevitably be more complicated. Each party will have an incentive to place more blame on someone else. Under California’s comparative fault system, each party will pay for the level of damages they’re responsible for based on the percentage of fault contributed to the crash. That said, all parties will try to put more blame on someone else.

The Strength of Your Initial Case Information

Your personal injury case checklist must include documenting all of your losses with specific evidence. In general, the more evidence you have to back up your claims and the stronger your case is initially, the more likely you are to have a prompt resolution and quick settlement.

Legal Representation

One of the biggest factors that could influence the time it takes to wrap up your claim is choosing the right lawyer. The right attorney will help expedite the process while also maximizing your overall settlement award. A poor lawyer might cause your case to drag on longer by not securing the right evidence, failing to present a solid case upfront, or not negotiating properly. The other team’s representation matters, too. If you’re going up against a major corporation’s legal team, then you’ll need to secure a legal advocate who’s equally as qualified to represent your interests.

The Impact of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) for Your Situation

Settlements in personal injury cases should include your future losses and long-term losses. Maximum medical improvement refers to the time in which you’ve reached a point where your injury is as recovered as it can possibly be, since a full recovery may not be possible. When valuing your losses, you’ll want to consider how much you’ll likely lose up to the point of MMI.

How to Handle a Personal Injury Case from Start to Finish

After your accident, make sure you report the incident and then get the medical help you need. Then, be wary, and don’t trust insurance agents. Instead, get in touch with an attorney. They’ll help you with the next steps of compiling evidence, filing your case, and negotiating with the responsible party. If you used government insurance to cover some of your medical costs, then you might get notified about a lien on your settlement. Medicaid liens in personal injury cases ensure that the government will get their fair share of the settlement award since they covered some of your costs. Reduction of medical liens in personal injury cases in California might be possible in some cases, but it’s best to discuss this with an attorney directly.

Court Schedules and Their Impact on Your Case

Court delays happen frequently. Your lawsuit length is depending on court schedules, and your day in court can easily get pushed back due to illness, staffing concerns, weather-related events, or other problems.

Deciding Between Settlement and Trial: Main Time Considerations

Most personal injury cases are won during the settlement negotiation process. If you decide to go to court, then the estimated trial timeline will be lengthy. It will take a few months (and possibly a year or more) to have your day in court. You’ll need to weigh out the pros and cons of going to trial. You may get a higher settlement, but it will take longer.

How a Personal Injury Case in California May be Extended

Legal proceedings in a personal injury case in California could be extended for several reasons.

  • court delays;
  • a need for one party to collect more evidence;
  • Illnesses;
  • even natural disasters.

The best legal strategy to employ to ensure a prompt resolution is to hire a competent attorney who will build up a solid case upfront.

If you’re ready to get in touch with a lawyer about your case, then we’re prepared to get started ASAP. Schedule a consultation with Kermani LLP now to learn more about our services.

May 29, 2024

Ray Kermani
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