Finding yourself suffering a personal injury can leave you traumatized and confused. Although attorneys might tell you that filling a claim is simple, not every injury lawsuit is a breeze. Some cases can drag on for months and can even lead to a court trial.
The good news is that 95% of civil cases end in settlements. Regarding personal injuries, these cases generally aren’t taken on by an attorney unless they believe you have a reasonable chance of success. These situations can be stressful and financially burden you and your family.
In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about personal injury litigation, including the factors of these cases, what to expect when you file, and how long the process might take.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The term “personal injury” is often thrown around in legal marketing. Attorneys specializing in personal injury claims usually blast the general public with information about these lawsuits, but what do they actually mean?
Personal injury cases are legal disputes arising when someone experiences an accident or injury and someone else is legally responsible. In many cases, this is the person’s insurance company, such as in the case of an auto accident. It can also be an individual, such as when taking action against a sole proprietor.
Litigation for a personal injury begins when an attorney seeks legal representation within a civil court. Court action is to find someone legally at fault for what happened to you, but cases often never find their way to court.
Believe it or not, most lawsuits are settled without ever filing an official lawsuit in the form of an informal settlement.
The two likely outcomes of most accident personal injury lawsuits are:
- Formal Lawsuit – The government can only initiate criminal cases. Since you pursue the lawsuit through your attorney, this is a civil complaint against a person, business, or other entity. This official court action often occurs when there is a disagreement over who is at fault or the size of the settlement.
- Informal Settlement – Most cases are settled outside of court because formal lawsuits are expensive and stressful for both parties. Settlements take the form of negotiation, followed by a written agreement and a payment to end the action.
While these are the two most likely lawsuit outcomes, a middle ground exists in alternative dispute resolution procedures.
Taking your case to court may sound stressful, but remember, as few as 4% of cases ever make it to a courtroom. After all, it’s in nobody’s interest for a case to endure a long-winded court resolution.
What is Considered Personal Injury?
Most people consider personal injuries to involve some significant form of physical harm. But “personal injury” is a different concept in law and encompasses so much more.
According to Cornell Law School: “Personal injuries include every variety of injury to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation, as contradistinguished from injury to property rights.”
Generally, most personal injuries fall into the following categories:
- Physical/Bodily Injury – Bodily damage, all types of illnesses, and disability. Physical injuries can range from minor to catastrophic. These injuries can arise from various environments, including auto accidents and workplace incidents.
- Financial Injury – These personal injuries can arise from other types of personal injuries because they include incurring significant medical bills or loss of income due to the inability of the plaintiff to work.
- Reputational Damage – Reputational damage can be defined as a loss of finance or an impact on emotional well-being. Defamation and slander cases can result from people spreading malicious gossip publicly.
- Intentional Injury – Personal injury cases typically involve negligence, but some cases may also involve intentional injury, including extreme cases of gross negligence.
Sometimes, cases can involve multiple categories. For example, suppose an employee was known to not get along with another employee, and their gross negligence led to a long-term injury. In that scenario, a case could be considered intentional, physical/bodily, and financial.
Personal Injury Litigation Factors
Should you file a personal injury lawsuit?
Various factors come into play regarding whether you can launch the litigation process. Typically, you are advised to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the injury to pursue your case.
Here’s a rundown of the primary litigation factors an attorney will examine when determining whether you have a case.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has a statute of limitations on personal injury cases. You must file before the statute of limitations expires to maintain your right to pursue your claim.
Check your state’s statute of limitations because some states can provide you with as little as one year.
On the other hand, states like Illinois give you two years to file your case from the date the personal injury occurred.
The Type of Injury
Some states often impose specific time limits for different personal injury cases to make things even more complicated.
Two of the most prominent examples where states diverge on statute of limitations are product liability and wrongful death cases.
Age of the Involved Parties
State law can also have caveats for personal injuries involving minors. Again, you must check with an attorney in your state to figure out how this will influence your ability to initiate litigation.
In many states, the statute of limitations begins counting down once a minor turns 18. However, there can be further caveats for medical malpractice cases involving a minor.
Filing Claims Against the Government
Personal injury claims can also be made against government agencies, employees working for government agencies, and agency affiliates.
Filing a claim against any local, state, or federal entity means you must file a Notice of Claim within 60 days of the injury occurring, or you will lose your right to claim.
When the Injury Was Discovered
The statute of limitations on most personal injuries begins on the day of the incident that led to the injury.
However, in some cases, you can invoke the Discovery of Harm rule. Under this rule, the statute of limitations only applies to the personal injury claimant when the injury was discovered.
Since it’s unlikely that you would be unaware of most acute injuries, this rule is rarely used relative to most claims.
What to Expect During a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Lawsuits for personal injury can be intimidating. Hiring legal representation from day one is the best course of action. You’ll want to have an experienced agent by your side.
But what does the timeline look like if you are suing or being sued for a personal injury claim?
Your Attorney Will Investigate the Case
No personal injury attorney will charge you for assessing your case. The first step is to seek legal counsel and have them interview you about what happened.
Your attorney will want to know all the details about your injuries, medical treatment, and accident. Ensure you can provide as much detail as possible.
They will also assess your case’s complexity and the likelihood of success before pursuing it.
Note that in more complicated cases, your attorney may:
- Hire an investigator to assist in everything from interviewing witnesses to uncovering new evidence.
- Consult experts, such as accident reconstructionists and financial professionals.
The initial investigation is usually the longest part of the process because your attorney wants to assess the merits and odds of success before going any further. This process can take a few weeks to months.
Your Attorney Launches the Negotiation Process
As previously noted, most cases are settled without anyone ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Smaller lawsuits for personal injury cases are usually settled between attorneys.
For example, if you’re involved in an auto accident making a whiplash claim, and your attorney has the traffic camera footage to prove the other driver was at fault, your case could take as little as a few weeks.
Your attorney will make an initial demand and wait for the other side to reply. Rarely will the other side accept the first offer. Behind the scenes, both legal times will argue back and forth until they can come to an agreement or not.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit is Filed
If no settlement is reached, you and your attorney will file your lawsuit in court. The lawsuit must be filed within the statute of limitations, which your attorney will track every step of the way.
Just because you have filed your case in court does not mean you must go to a court trial. Cases can be settled at any point in the process.
Some attorneys will file an official lawsuit to “encourage” the opposition to offer a fairer settlement.
Depending on your state, the pretrial process can take one to two years. This is why most personal injury claims never make it to a formal court trial.
The discovery phase is part of the pretrial process and involves each side investigating the other side’s claims. Both legal teams will feel out the other side to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of their respective arguments.
During the discovery phase, legal representatives make document requests and take depositions from the plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses.
The discovery phase can last from six months to a year. Once you reach this point, you are at the mercy of the local court’s calendar.
Mediation and Negotiation
Following the conclusion of the discovery period, the mediation and negotiation phase begins. With both sides familiarized with each other’s arguments, the time for discussing a settlement starts again.
Your attorney may speak to the other side to see how amenable they are to a fair settlement, or they will engage in an alternative dispute resolution. Under alternative dispute resolution, a third-party mediator is brought in to try to resolve the case.
Mediation can take as little as a couple of days, but there’s no guarantee that either party will come to an agreement.
The beginning of a court trial occurs when all efforts at negotiation, mediation, and arbitration have failed.
Personal injury trials involve taking the case before a judge to determine who was at fault and/or a fair settlement. In many court trials, the issue is not who was at fault but how much compensation the plaintiff should receive.
The length of a personal injury trial can take anywhere from a day to weeks. Some states can take longer because court rules only allow trials to occur for half a day, doubling the average trial’s length.
Trials can be derailed at the last minute, and a new date posted for the most innocuous of reasons. Likewise, they can also end prematurely because both parties finally come to a settlement.
How Long Will My Lawsuit Take to Come to a Settlement?
Many victims are concerned about their ability to pay for medical and related expenses when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. Fortunately, settlements from these cases can provide a much-needed safety net if work-related income is no longer an option.
Your attorney will do everything they can to secure you the justice you deserve, but if the other side refuses to cooperate, you could be in for a trial taking months or even years.
So, what are the perfect conditions for quickly securing a settlement?
- There is enough liability insurance coverage.
- Your injuries are minor.
- You have completely recovered.
- The opposition accepts they are entirely at fault.
- The opposition is not challenging the legitimacy of your injuries.
Most cases are never as tidy as this, but it shows how simple filing a lawsuit for a personal injury can be.
Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on how long these cases take because of their unique nature. Every case is different.
Can I Speed Up the Claims Timeline?
The settlement process depends on so many factors that placing a precise timeline for your case is impossible.
However, there are some things you can do to ensure everything runs smoothly in the timeline. These actions include:
- Tell your attorney everything that might come up, including anything that may hurt your claim. For example, a pre-existing condition could impact how much you eventually receive. Likewise, if you were under the influence of drugs and alcohol, this is something to bring up initially.
- Ensure you keep all your medical appointments, including filling your prescriptions on time. Follow all of your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
- Respond to your attorney’s requests for documentation as soon as possible to construct your case.
Of course, quick cases depend on their nature, but an experienced attorney can significantly impact how quickly you get your settlement.
Are you involved in a personal injury settlement and need help with pre-settlement funding? Oasis is here to help!
Secure Pre-Settlement Funding for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Pre-settlement funding can be an ideal option for individuals needing money while they wait for their legal case to resolve. The amount you are provided and any charges will come out of your settlement when the suit concludes, giving peace of mind that nothing is owed if you don’t win.
These types of fundings are anchored against your legal case, which opens up various advantages over a traditional personal loan.
So, why should you consider pre-settlement funding vs. personal loans?
Pay Your Bills
Unable to work? No sign of your case being settled? Running out of savings?
The bills will not wait for your legal case to pass through the system. Then, what if you receive a lower settlement than expected? Pursuing litigation can mean gambling with your future as your savings drain away.
You can use pre-settlement funding to pay for everything from your mortgage to your credit card debts. Except for your legal expenses, no other restrictions exist on what you can use your funding for.
No Repayments Unless You Win
With a traditional loan, you begin paying back the loan from day one. Once approved, it does not matter what your future financial circumstances are. Failure to make those repayments will destroy your credit score and lead to further debt.
Pre-settlement funding provides you with a single lump sum with no repayment obligations if your legal claim is unsuccessful.
If you win, the entire amount owed is paid out of your settlement as a lump sum. If you lose, the funded amount is wiped away, with no repayments required, even if you have yet to spend the entire amount. This prevents you from drowning in debt.
Your Credit Score Doesn’t Matter
Your credit score is irrelevant when it comes to pre-settlement funding. As a type of funding that is typically secured against your settlement, you are not making any incremental repayments.
Hold Out for a Bigger Settlement
Insurers and attorneys understand how emotionally taxing a personal injury claim can be for victims. To take advantage of this, they may attempt to offer lower settlements in exchange for an easy resolution – leaving the plaintiff with less than their fair compensation.
Pre-settlement funding enables you to fight your case for longer and receive the compensation you deserve.
Secure Pre-Settlement Funding with Oasis Financial
If you are injured in an accident that was not your fault, it can feel like the world is closing in. Your personal injury settlement is designed to provide justice while supporting you and your family.
Speaking to a qualified attorney is crucial for resolving your case quickly while receiving the best possible settlement. At Oasis Financial, we know how long these cases can take, and the last thing you need is to worry about your finances.
We are licensed to provide pre-settlement funding in multiple states across the country. If you are a personal injury victim and want to learn more about your options and how settlements work, contact Oasis Financial.
Apply now for your pre-settlement financing today!