There is no precise timeline for completion of the litigation process. However, you can evaluate whether it is taking too long by considering these factors:
- Do you have a prognosis? This is the most important factor of all in determining how long it will take your case to get to trial. Your prognosis determines everything from the amount of pain and suffering damages, to your long-term care needs and future wage losses. Until your lawyer knows from the doctor what the medical future holds for you, it is difficult, if not impossible, to settle your case or take it to trial. In many cases, that can take years. Once the prognosis is known, then you can expect a number of assessments to take place to properly evaluate your claim.
- How busy is your lawyer? Good lawyers are busy and insurance companies appoint good lawyers to defend cases. This means that scheduling is often delayed because of the lawyers’ time constraints, ultimately delaying your case.
- Does your lawyer have a plan? Business is not, however, an excuse for drifting. Your lawyer should have a plan for your case and if you have questions, ask. Firmly and politely enquire about what the plan for resolution of the case is. You will likely be reassured by asking those questions. If you are not, you may wish to get a second opinion.
- Administrative or court delays Problems often arise with scheduling cases due to lawyer time constraints as many busy lawyers double book and even triple book to take into account the possibility of settlements. If your case is considered long, over two weeks, the courts have less flexibility in giving you a date, especially outside major settings where there is only one judge or limited court space. Your case in those jurisdictions can get bumped by murder and rape trials, for example, because not every case is treated with the same urgency. The rule of thumb for trials in London is the trial will be held about one year from the point your lawyer will appear before the court to set the trial date.
- Legitimate defence requests Unfortunately, things change in personal injury cases. New problems develop, surgeries take place, jobs are taken on or lost, and training succeeds or fails. All of this changes the face of the case and the damage assessment. It may lead your lawyer to another set of assessments and every time this happens, the defence may wish to have the change evaluated by its own expert. It is disheartening, but a carefully prepared case must take into account change; including changes in the law itself.