Did you know that over two million people are injured in car accidents every year? If you’ve been injured in a car accident, then you know what a stressful experience it can be.
This is true even when the insurance claim process goes in your favor. But, if it doesn’t, then it’s time to consider a car accident lawsuit.
In this auto accident lawsuit timeline guide, we’ll walk you through the average timeline for one of these lawsuits. That way, you can decide for yourself whether it’s the right decision for you. Let’s get started!
1. Plaintiff Files and Serves the Complaint
The process of starting the lawsuit involves serving a complaint to the court. The act of submitting the complaint will only take moments.
But, preparing the complaint to meet the court’s standards will likely take a few days or weeks, depending on how in a hurry you are. You need to make sure that you file your complaint before the statute of limitations ends.
When this happens, you won’t be able to pursue a lawsuit. Once you’ve filed the complaint, you must now serve the defendant a copy of the complaint.
This can be quick or long depending on hard the defendant is to track down. If you know where they are, then it shouldn’t take more than a few days.
But, if they’re hard to find, then it can take weeks. When you can’t find the defendant in time, you will need to ask the court if you can have an extension.
2. Defendant Responds to Complaint
The length of time for the defendant to respond depends on where the lawsuit was filed. However, they typically have one month to respond.
During this time the defendant will have a chance to respond to the complaint, either by listing out affirmative defenses or by providing counterclaims.
3. Discovery Phase
During the discovery phase, both the defendant and the plaintiff will request and seek out evidence to strengthen their cases. If the discovery phase is straightforward, then this can take a few months.
However, if people are disputing one party’s access to certain information, then it can potentially take years to clear up.
4. Case Potentially Settles
It’s important to note that lawsuits can be settled at any time after the complaint is filed. Most cases are settled in the insurance claims process.
However, more often than not they will be settled directly after the discovery phase if a complaint has been filed. Why? Because this is when evidence is presented that can determine how the case will likely go in court.
Relevant information can make or break a case. So, both sides will want to see what the other party has up their sleeves. For example, let’s say a defendant denies running a stop sign that caused the accident.
If the plaintiff reveals they have CCTV footage of them running the stop sign, they’ll likely want to settle.
Going to court would be an expensive waste of time otherwise since the evidence is so strong in favor of the plaintiff. So, they’re likely to provide a car accident settlement.
5. Trial Phase
During an auto accident lawsuit trial, both sides will present their evidence that will be used to support or deny the allegations.
It’s common to hear testimony from any witnesses, expert opinions, photographs, videos, medical records, and similar types of documents. The plaintiff will present their side of the story, followed by the defendant.
Then, the court will issue a verdict. The trail itself will likely only take one to two days. However, depending on how backed up the court system is, it could take quite a long time before the trial begins.
6. Appeal Phase
If the defendant or plaintiff isn’t happy with the results, then they will be allowed to seek an appeal. Appeals are bad because they can take months or even years to resolve. And that’s just for one level of them.
There are three different levels that clients can seek. You need to be careful around parties that use appeals to try and threaten you.
This happens when rich clients say they’ll drag out a long and costly appeal unless you settle for much less than you initially asked for. Make sure to discuss your options with your lawyers if an appeal threat happens to you.
How to Find a Good Legal Team
If you’re feeling stressed at the idea of pursuing a car accident lawsuit, then don’t panic. The key to remaining calm during this process is hiring a dependable legal team.
But how do you find a good one you can trust? A local search is a good place to start. Try to limit your selection to options with lots of good reviews.
You should also only search for people that specialize in the type of personal injury lawsuit that you’re seeking. In this case, that would be someone that specializes in car accident cases.
You also want a lawyer that’s available to you 24/7. You can read this page if you’re interested in a law team that provides this round-the-clock service.
Finally, schedule a consultation to see how they feel. You want to go with a law team that’s as honest as possible about your chances of winning.
Appreciate Learning About the Car Accident Lawsuit Timeline? Keep Reading
We hope this article helped you learn more about the average car accident lawsuit timeline. As you can see, you would have to be extremely lucky to finish your lawsuit in a few months.
Typically it takes a year or even longer to fully resolve. So, if you’re serious about pursuing legal action, make sure to buckle up for the long haul.
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