How long will it take for my car accident case to settle or go to trial?

I assume for the purpose of answering this question that your case involves serious injuries (in other words, it’s not a minor fender bender; those cases are typically on a different, shorter, time line).

There are many factors that will impact how it will take for your case to settle or go to trial. Cases that can be settled without filing a lawsuit will settle more quickly.  If the case has to be filed as a lawsuit, and the other side has hired lawyers and appeared in the case, we will seek a trial date from the Judge. Most judges are interested in moving their dockets efficiently, and will set a trial date within 18 months of the date the case was filed.

If you have a strong case, you can expect that the other side will try to delay its day of judgment for as long as possible and we will have to fight to get the case to trial as soon as possible.

The complexity of the case will also impact how long it takes to get to trial. A case can be relatively easy to prove liability, like where a car ran a red light, but more complicated to prove the extent of your injuries.  For instance, a case involving orthopedic injuries will typically be less complex, and take less time, than a case involving a traumatic brain injury.

The above discusses the time line to TRIAL. But there is another important time line: the time to potential SETTLEMENT. Most of the trial time factors also apply to the settlement time line. However, the attorneys on both sides have more control over how quickly a case will be postured for potential settlement.

Understanding that every case is different, as a practical matter, most personal injuries cases should be developed, and negotiated for potential settlement, within 18 months of filing. There are many situations where this time frame will be longer, or shorter, however, this is a good rule of thumb.

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