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October 22, 2019 | Gary Burger

How Long Do Personal Injury Lawsuits Last?

How long do personal injury lawsuits last? From filing, through arbitration/depositions, and possibly even a trial, a lawsuit can be a lengthy process. The answer to this question is going to depend upon the complexities of your claim. However, a personal injury case can typically last a year. If you're currently pursuing a personal injury claim, and you need assistance with your case, call our personal injury lawyers in St. Louis at your earliest convenience. Our consultations are free, and we don't charge any fees unless we win your claim.

How Long do Personal Injury Lawsuits Last? - Personal Injury Lawyer St. Louis

The first point to remember is that every case is different, and some cases may be more complex or simple than others. Let's say you have a solid case where the defendant doesn't have any recourse to object to your charges. It's clear that you are owed for your injuries, and it is clear that they must pay. These types of cases can typically be settled before a trail and usually through some form of arbitration. When no trial is required, a case may only take a few months, and typically less than a year.

However, let's imagine that the case involves a massive settlement and includes an entire class of people who could have been wronged or injured by an individual or company. These cases almost always go to court, involve the testimony of several different types of experts, the testimony of those wronged, and even after the judge or jury declares a settlement the case can go through appeals. These cases can take years, and our most recent Missouri Department of Corrections case is just one example.

What about normal cases? What about a case that isn't simple, that has differing arguments, evidence, and goes to trial? How long do those typically take? Let's go through the several steps a personal injury lawsuit must take before it is settled.

Step 1 - Filing the Lawsuit - Personal Injury Lawyer St. Louis

This part is important. For any civil filing, the case must be filed within the statute of limits of the law that is being invoked for the case. That means if a certain law says you have three years to file a claim, then your lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the initial event. Filing a personal injury lawsuit doesn't take a great deal of time.

Step 2. Service of Process - Personal Injury Attorney St. Louis

Once the lawsuit has been filed, it must be sent with your reason for filing and demands to the defendant listed on the lawsuit. These can be delivered by a process server, or a deputy sheriff. The delivering of the process takes as long as it takes to get into actual contact with the person. Movies have actually been made showing how hard it can be to deliver a summons to someone who doesn't want to face the lawsuit. Typically though, a summons only takes 1-2 days.

Step 3. The Answer to A Summons - Personal Injury Lawyer St. Louis

Once they've received the summons, there are several answers they can make. They can agree to the facts but disagree on the suit and provide a counter-argument, or they can also sue you back, in which case you can expect a similar summons and answer. If they receive the summons but don't answer to the suit, then a judge can declare a default judgment in your favor.

Step 4. Motions - Personal Injury Attorney St. Louis

Once the summons have been answered, either side can ask the judge for motions to dismiss the case, or motions for summary judgment if they want immediate action on the case. These motions simplify the trial process so that discovery and depositions don't have to take place. If a judge grants either of these motions, the personal injury lawsuit can be shortened substantially.

Step 5. Discovery and Depositions - Personal Injury Lawyer St. Louis

If any motions were introduced, and the judge declined to act on either motion, the personal injury lawsuit then moves into the discovery phase, where each side can ask the other side for information, facts, and who the witness, if any will be brought forth, are. The discovery phase is about finding which facts are agreed upon, which are in dispute, what each side admits to, and what evidence will be submitted at the trial. Scheduling can draw this process out, as well as having subsequent depositions, new facts emerging, speaking to witnesses and experts, etc.

Step 6. Trial - Personal Injury Attorney St. Louis

The trial is the culmination of the entire process. Facts are argued, witnesses are examined, and laws are evoked. Trial take as long as necessary, and for some cases, it can take years. Scheduling can be used to delay a trial, recesses can be used to delay a trial, sickness, jury selection, etc. All of these factors can increase the time it may take to settle a personal injury lawsuit. Jury trials typically take 4-5 days to complete.

Personal Injury Lawsuits take as long as they need.

Remember, every case is different, and every claim is different. If major injuries are involved, or a class action is involved, the case may take longer, the defendants may try to fight it out. Give your personal injury lawsuit the time it needs so that you can get the proper recovery. If you have a current lawsuit that you are struggling with and need guidance, our personal injury lawyers in St. Louis can help. Our consultations are free and we don't charge any fees unless we win your claim.