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July 13th, 2018

Personal Injury Claims: How long do they take?

Is hiring a lawyer to help with your personal injury in Houston even worth it? Wondering how long it will take for your claim to settle?  Many people who file personal injury claims are not aware of all the steps involved in settling their case.  It is important for clients to understand how long it takes for lawyers to gather the necessary data and how long it takes for insurance companies to present an offer. Clients often wonder how long it will take to get their case settled. They also wonder how long it will take to go on trial, if need be. While there is no uniform timeline, it can take anywhere from 2 weeks- 3 months after treatment has ceased to settle a claim, and 1 year to 18 months to go to trial.

Here is an example of a typical litigation process:

Pre-Litigation stage: This is also known as the Screening and Investigatory Phase. During this time, your lawyer will communicate with the insurance company and let them know that you have legal representation. Then, the process of consolidating evidence, speaking with witnesses, obtaining photos, hiring experts, and gathering medical records begins, and that can take anywhere from 1-6 months. Additionally, if you are in treatment longer than 6 months, this process can take longer, since your lawyer can not collect all of the medical records if you are still treating.

Settlement/ Negotiation Phase: The negotiation process can take anywhere from a week to several months. During this time, lawyers will participate in settlement discussions between responsible parties and insurance companies. Lawyers then set out a demand asking for an amount of money that is usually worth more than the case is worth. The adjustor then reviews the demand and makes an offer in return. If no one is able to come to an agreement, then the lawyer might suggest filing a lawsuit.

Litigation stage: If an agreement cannot be reached, then your lawyer will move quickly to begin litigation. When the lawyer determines that your case is worth litigating, the lawyer will send out a petition to each defendant involved in the case. This can take anywhere from 1-18 months. During this time, the defendants will send a response back to each allegation made in the petition. Defendants who are served in the state are given until the following Monday after expiration of 20 days to respond.

Discovery phase: During this time, both sides review information, testimony, documents, and other evidence from each other or anyone who may have informed on the case. Depositions, which are meetings in which the opposing attorneys ask questions of witnesses and parties under oath, are then scheduled. Mediations are then scheduled in attempt to settle a case before going to trial. If mediation is unsuccessful, then the case will typically go to trial.

Trial: This can take several days, and sometimes much longer depending on the case. Keep in mind, the majority of personal injury disputes are resolved well before trial. In the event your case does go to trial, a judge or jury will examine the evidence to decide whether the defendant should be legally responsible for the injuries and harm alleged by the plaintiff.

The personal injury claim process does require patience as well as active participation from the client to go to treatment. Although the process can sometimes be lengthy, rest assured, your attorney will fight to make sure you are getting the compensation you deserve. And it will all be worth it!

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