If you or someone you know is the victim of an accident in which you sustained personal injuries and wish to move forward with seeking compensation, you may want to know how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim. While many smaller injury claims can be settled without suing, others may warrant lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit marks the beginning of the personal injury claim process, which will end when your case is settled or goes to trial. The time to settle a personal injury claim varies depending on the severity of your injury, the statute of limitations—which is two years from the date of injury in Alabama—and pretrial court procedures. However, most personal injury claims filed in Alabama typically take about one year.
When you file a personal injury claim to recover noneconomic or economic damages, here is the general timeline and stages you can expect.
After your attorney files a lawsuit, you will enter the discovery phase. Both parties investigate each other’s legal claims and defenses, including sending questions known as interrogatories, document requests, and taking depositions of all relevant parties and witnesses, typically starting with the plaintiff and defendant.
In Alabama, all personal injury claims follow the contributory negligence rule, which states that if a court finds you 10% at fault, you will recover nothing, even if the defendant holds 90% of the fault. Working with an experienced lawyer can help prove that you did not cause the accident and help you win your case.
This phase can take anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the case and court deadlines.
Mediation and Negotiation
As the discovery phase comes to a close, the lawyers move into settlement talks. Sometimes, the attorneys may agree to a settlement alone. However, other cases may go to mediation, working with a neutral third-party mediator to settle the claim.
Personal Injury Trial
In the rare event that mediation doesn’t work, your personal injury claim will go to trial. It’s important to keep in mind that even while you may have a specific date for your trial, it could get pushed back because of the judge’s schedule or extenuating circumstances. This happens frequently and does not indicate an unfavorable outcome for you and your case.
A trial can last anywhere from a day to several weeks. The length of the trial depends on several factors, including whether you accept a settlement early.
Settling Your Claim
While the time it takes to settle a personal injury claim varies based on several circumstances, you can help ensure you receive your compensation sooner by hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. By working with the team of experienced personal injury attorneys at LaPlante, Merritt, Faulkner, Wilson & Clay, LLC., you can get the help you need to navigate this sometimes emotional, legal process and get the compensation you deserve.