This is often the first question a victim will ask when they sit down with their attorney during the initial consultation. Attorneys are trained professionals who have their experience to draw upon, but there is no way to give an accurate answer. An educated guess based on a case’s facts will likely put the time frame between a few months to more than a year. This is if there are no delays, and the courts are not limited by a pandemic.
Some believe that slow-moving cases favor the defendant because witnesses’ memories fade or disappear, and victims become impatient. Conversely, the defendant or insurance company may be in a hurry to settle in hopes of paying a lower settlement amount if they believe the victim will accept the offer. It is usually in the victim’s best interests to wait until medical treatment is completed to see what their recovery looks like and judge their ongoing expenses. It is only then that they know that the settlement is reasonable.
Why so long?
Along with delays due to medical treatment, the legal system moves slowly – a fair settlement before going to court can end things quickly, but litigating a case in court takes time. The reasons include:
- Cases can be complicated with a lot of organizational planning as well as legal work.
- Court dockets are typically full, so it takes time to get on the schedule.
- There may be several sessions before the judge issues a decision.
- The case may even be in court before the defendant offers a fair settlement.
- It may be necessary to appeal the court’s decision, which adds more time after the initial trial.
Looking for the best possible outcome
Personal injury attorneys work on the contingency of winning the case and getting a portion of the settlement. However, they also understand how cases proceed, when it reaches a point of diminishing returns, and the client may wish to settle. Regardless of the direction that the case takes, the attorney always works toward the best possible outcome, which is one that victims and their families can live with.