This is one of the questions that New York accident lawyers field more than any other. The truth is there really is no one answer, and the best estimate is that a case can last anywhere between 6 months and 6 years.
Every case is completely different.
It is important to remember that at the center of every claim for personal injuries is a real person who is now forced to live with the effects of those injuries on a daily basis. And a big component of the “value” of this claim comes from how well that person recovers from the injury. So before you can settle any claim it is in the injured person’s best interest that they have a good handle on their prognosis, which is the likelihood of recovery.
Every injury case is completely different, and depending on who and where you must sue, the Statute of Limitations must be kept in mind. As long as these time limits are followed, a case can be resolved early on in the process, deep in the litigation, or at points along the way.
Cases resolved in claim
Some cases can be resolved in claim, which is early on in the process and before a lawsuit is started. Even these cases can take at a minimum 6 months up to 1 year or more to settle because, as discussed above, you must have a good idea about the injured person’s recovery. It is often difficult to settle a case in claim because either the insurance carrier will make smaller, nuisance value offers of settlement or the injured person has not yet completed their course of treatment.
Cases settled during litigation
Other cases are settled during litigation. A “litigated” case is one that has gone through the court process: the opening “pleadings,” document discovery, depositions and motion practice, and up to trial. It is not uncommon that an insurance company will refuse to make any reasonable offers of settlement until you’ve gone deep into this process. A case that is litigated will last, on average, between 3-4 years, perhaps longer.
Car accident lawsuits usually fit into to the 3-4 year window depending on which County the case is pending. More complicated matters including any kind of premises type matter – a trip and fall or slip and fall accident case – or construction site accidents, can extend longer. But it is also true that each of these types of case can be resolved within 1-2 years.
The length of a case depends on many different factors including:
- how extensive the injuries are
- the amount of the insurance policy
- the insurance carrier
- the defendant’s attorneys
- the court you are in
- all sorts of other factors
For this reason the only answer to this question is that every case is different.