Top 5 Reasons Why Your Personal Injury Lawsuit Is Taking So Long
After all, they have done everything right, they have followed their attorney’s instructions and provided all necessary information and releases. Delays can happen at various stages of a personal injury lawsuit, for an assortment of reasons. Understanding these reasons can help you wait patiently or push for action as appropriate depending on the circumstances.
Why Your Lawyer May Wait Before Filing Suit
Do not expect your lawyer to file your complaint right after your meeting. Before filing a personal injury case, your attorney needs to take several steps. The first of these includes obtaining and reviewing your medical records; many lawyers also have an expert look them over. This is necessary not just to ensure you have a good case but also to get a better idea of what the case is worth [LINK] and how to proceed next.
Negotiating With Insurers
With all types of injury cases, the insurance company representing the defendant will be a major player in the lawsuit. In some states, the company can even end up a named defendant. Your lawyer may need to let the insurer know about the suit and allow for a chance to negotiate a settlement. In some jurisdictions, this may be necessary to ensure you receive the full amount of a later judgment. While, in most cases, insurers will not offer an adequate settlement at this early stage, if they do propose an acceptable amount you will have saved yourself the hassle involved in pursuing a your case through to a trial.
Delays During Discovery
Once your lawyer files your complaint, the next stage is the discovery process, where all parties try to get the information and evidence they need. Typically, discovery includes depositions of parties and witnesses, lists of proposed witnesses and experts and exchanging copies of relevant documents. There are several factors that can cause delays during discovery.
Depending on the type of case, there are likely to be numerous people involved. Your attorney may need to seek depositions of healthcare professionals, witnesses at the scene, police, expert witnesses, and other as they may be applicable. Since many depositions take at least 1-2 hours and often more, coordinating times and locations can take some time. Additionally, relevant witnesses may have moved away or stopped working at the home. Your attorney may need time to locate them.
In the course of depositions, new information may come out that indicates the existence of other witnesses or documents you and your lawyer were not aware of. In such a case, the discovery timeline may need to be extended.
In some cases, the defendants may refuse to produce some types of evidence or witnesses may refuse to appear at depositions. Your attorney may need to file and argue a motion before the judge to compel the production of evidence or testimony, causing an additional yet necessary delay.
Court Procedures and Litigation
Long before your case’s trial appears on the horizon, your attorney will need to make several appearances in court. Each state and each specific court has its own rules governing procedures in particular types of cases. Typically, in the early stages, attorneys have required dates to check in with the court to make sure discovery is proceeding properly. If disputes arise about the discovery process, there will also be hearings on any motions. Keep in mind that scheduled hearing or check-in dates often get rescheduled multiple times. This can happen upon request from either attorney.
Most courts have provisions designed to encourage settlements. This can mean required settlement conferences with the judge once discovery is complete. Some courts require the parties to go through mediation. Scheduling can cause delays at this stage, since it depends on the availability of parties, insurers, attorneys and judges or mediators.
In some cases, after the completion of discovery, one of the parties may file a motion for summary judgment. Such a motion argues that, based on facts that none of the parties dispute, the judge can make a legal decision that takes care of the case. Plaintiffs file summary judgment motions asking the judge to award requested damages, while defendants ask the judge to dismiss the case. Sometimes, a judge will rule on part of the case and let the other part go to trial. These complex motions cause further delays, as they may entail a whole other set or arguments and hearings.
If your case proceeds to an actual trial, most courts tend to have busy dockets, so you should not expect a quick trial date. Often, judges will set the trial date several months or even a year ahead. Even that date can get delayed for a variety of reasons, including witness availability. In some courts, judges schedule several trials for one time slot, with the expectation that at least some of them will settle before trial.
Unexpected developments can delay any stage of the trial, and the pre-trial phase is no exception. Plaintiffs may experience new and unanticipated symptoms requiring new medical evaluations, reports and expert testimony. Additional evidence can surface.
Oftentimes, lengthy delays in personal injury lawsuits cannot be avoided. While this may be frustrating for many plaintiffs, consistent communication with your attorney can allay your anxieties and let you stay informed about developments in your case.
With lengthy delays in the settlement of your case, it can sometimes cause financial hardship. Most people don’t realize that there is a service available that can allow you to leverage your expected legal settlement award to obtain some of that cash before your lawsuit settles. It is called pre-settlement legal funding. Signal Funding offers this service. It is not a loan, but a no-risk (non-recourse) transaction, where you can receive roughly between 10% to 15% of your case value. What makes it no risk, is should you take out a legal funding and then end up losing your case, you do not have to repay the amount of your legal funding. If you would like to get more information, simply call us at 800-635-1167.