June 23, 2022
It is less about how long you can wait and more about how much time you have when it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit. Most states’ laws typically allow you at least a year to file your claim. However, you do not want to put things off until the last minute.
Personal injury claims require preparation before filing to obtain the maximum compensation available for your case. That work does take some time to complete thoroughly. If you wait until the last minute, you risk jeopardizing your settlement.
Get Medical Treatment
The first thing you should do if you are injured in an accident is to seek medical treatment. That is, if you even suspect you are injured, go to the emergency room or schedule an appointment with your doctor. Not only is this the right thing to do for your health, but if you do not see a doctor for a while after an accident, the insurance adjuster and jury are likely to assume that your injuries are not severe.
Do You Need to Wait to File a Personal Injury Claim?
If you want to file a personal injury claim, there is no waiting period. You can start the process as soon as your accident occurs. It is, however, best not to rush.
The last thing you want to do is file your taxes too soon. While this may seem counterintuitive, given that filing close to the deadline is also not ideal, the truth is that you want to file at the best possible time.
Time Limit to File Your Case in Court
Every type of lawsuit has a state law that establishes a deadline for going to court and filing the case. This is known as a statute of limitations, and different deadlines apply to different types of cases.
For example, a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or other similar types of cases will be governed by your state’s personal injury statute of limitations. Therefore, even if you are only involved in an insurance claim, for the time being, it is critical to remember the statute of limitations in case you need to file a lawsuit eventually.
Maximum Medical Improvement and Settlement
Before accepting the insurance adjuster’s or defendant’s settlement offer, you must determine whether you have reached “maximum medical improvement” or MMI. That means you are either as healthy as you will be in the wake of your injuries, or you and your attorney understand how to value your damages in terms of future medical care and the ongoing financial impact of your injuries.
Remember, there is no damage in starting the claims process before you have reached MMI; you just need to make sure you have a clear picture of your damages (past and future) before you settle the case.
Before making any potentially damaging decisions about your rights, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case.
Lawyer Considers Making Demand and Negotiating
Many minor personal injury claims are resolved without the need for a lawsuit. However, if the lawyer believes the case can be settled, he or she will make a demand on the other attorney or the other side’s insurance company. Learn more about how the personal injury settlement negotiation process works.
A good lawyer will not make a demand until the plaintiff has reached the point of medical improvement (MMI). MMI occurs when the plaintiff has completed all medical treatment and is as healthy as possible. This is because the lawyer does not know how much the case is worth until the plaintiff has reached MMI.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit is Filed
The litigation phase begins when you and your lawyer file a lawsuit of personal injury in court. The filing of the lawsuit begins the countdown to when the case may go to trial. Pretrial procedures vary by state, but a personal injury case will typically take one to two years to reach trial. Keep in mind that a lawsuit must be filed within strict time limits established by each state in a law known as a statute of limitations.
The Discovery Phase of a Personal Injury Case
During the discovery phase, each party investigates the other party’s legal claims and defenses. They send interrogatories and document requests and take depositions of all relevant parties and witnesses, generally beginning with the plaintiff and defendant. Depending on the court’s deadlines and the complexity of the case, this process can take anywhere from six months to a year.
Mediation is often successful, but if it is not, the case is scheduled for trial. A personal injury trial can last a day, a week, or even several months. Because many states hold trials for only half a day rather than a full day, the length may be increased. This doubles the length of a trial but allows lawyers and judges to complete other tasks in the afternoon.
One thing to keep in mind about trials is that just because a lawsuit is scheduled for trial does not guarantee that the trial will take place on that date. Trials are frequently pushed back due to the judge’s schedule. If your trial is rescheduled, you should not assume that something bad is going on.
Trials are constantly delayed, and for the most innocuous of reasons. Learn what happens when a car accident case goes to trial for more information on this stage of the process in the context of one of the most common types of injury cases.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer!
It is always a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney about your case before making any potentially damaging decisions about your rights.
Khashan Law’s Southern California Personal Injury Lawyers represent clients who have been injured in dog bites, car accidents, workplace accidents, accidents on someone else’s property, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases.
If you think you have a personal injury case, please do not hesitate to seek the expert legal counsel you require to put things right. It costs nothing to call us, nothing to schedule a consultation, and nothing to begin protecting your rights if we agree that you have a strong case.
Our caring legal professionals are here to assist you in recovering the financial compensation you deserve so you can move on with your life.Contact us today at 951.461.2387 to make an appointment for a free consultation.