As a personal injury lawyer, my job is to get each of my clients the compensation they need and deserve as quickly and efficiently as possible. I work tirelessly and leave no stone unturned to accomplish these goals.
Even with such a steadfast commitment, however, some personal injury cases can take a frustratingly long time to reach a resolution.
If our justice system worked as it does on TV legal dramas, you might expect to go from your accident to a jury verdict and a check in just under an hour. The reality, however, is that many if not most personal injury lawsuits can take months and sometimes years before a settlement is reached or a judgment is entered. Even cases that may seem simple and straightforward can get bogged down for an excruciating amount of time.
There are many reasons why personal injury cases can sometimes take a while. Two of the most common are:
The Discovery Process
In order to succeed at trial or put yourself in the strongest position to obtain a favorable settlement, you need to know all the facts, get the testimony of witnesses, and obtain all of the evidence, whether favorable or not. This process is called “discovery.”
After a personal lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff and defendant exchange requests for relevant or potentially relevant information and evidence. This can include written questions called “interrogatories,” as well as requests for documents. These documents need be reviewed both by the party providing them as well as the party receiving them. Some cases can involve the review of thousands upon thousands of documents.
Numerous depositions will be taken as well. The parties, witnesses, treating physicians, subject matter experts, and others will all need to appear and testify under oath, answering questions in sessions that can take hours and even days. Arranging schedules that accommodate the witnesses and the lawyers, making travel arrangements, and taking care of other logistics can stretch this process out for a long time. When expert witnesses are involved, they may also need the time to prepare reports.
This lengthy process can become even more so if the parties find themselves engaged in discovery disputes, such as whether certain requests were proper, whether the other side has provided all of the information requested, or whether there were issues involving how a deposition was conducted.
While discovery can take a while, it is an absolutely essential part of any personal injury lawsuit and can have a significant impact on the success of your case. Attorneys can push to move the process along as swiftly as possible, but it cannot be avoided.
When an insurance company is involved on behalf of a defendant, as is the case in most cases, their main goal is to pay as little as possible or pay nothing at all. To accomplish that objective, they may try to get an injury victim to settle on the cheap early on before a lawsuit is filed. This is why you should never negotiate with an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Once a lawsuit is filed, however, it can become in their interest for the case to drag on, as they try to find ways to avoid or minimize liability or perhaps wear down a plaintiff who simply wants to get what they need to move forward with their life.
Additionally, crowded and overscheduled court dockets can lead to long delays and scheduling challenges, even though the vast majority of cases are settled before trial.
Justice sometimes may not be swift, and the wait for a resolution of your injury case can be excruciating. Rest assured, though, that as your Dallas personal injury lawyer, I will never waver in my efforts to move your case toward a positive and successful outcome as soon as is possible without compromising your rights or your recovery.