How Long Does it Take to Resolve a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Chris Gilreath with Gilreath & Associates.
The amount of time it takes to resolve any lawsuit can vary drastically from one case to the next. Car accident lawsuits are no different in the sense that some cases may settle out of court or conclude quickly, whereas another case may be wrapped up in litigation lasting for months or even years.
In general, cases that are straightforward have the potential to resolve sooner, assuming that one party isn’t trying to draw out the issue. However, the average length of time for a car accident lawsuit to resolve is about one year from the date of filing. After the case has concluded, it could take weeks or even months for the settlement or verdict money to actually be received by the plaintiff in question.
Every car accident is different.
One of the biggest factors in estimating how long it will take for a car accident dispute to resolve is whether or not the accident victim has reached Maximum Medical Recovery, or MMR. MMR is a term used by personal injury lawyers to describe when a victim’s health has improved as much as it can be expected to after an accident. Attempting to settle or litigate a car accident case before MMR could result in important damages being left out of the claim, so some attorneys advise waiting for MMR to file the claim.
For example, if someone has not reached MMR and does not yet know that they will not be able to walk again, or not in the same capacity as before, the attorney may not know to include damages like wheelchair replacements, loss of chosen profession, and home modification costs. The wait often involved in achieving MMR can make some cases go on longer than others, especially those in which the injuries were catastrophic and likely to result in long-term or permanent damage. However, certain deadlines may require plaintiffs to file sooner rather than later.
It’s important to begin the process as soon as possible.
Every state has a different statute of limitations or window of time in which an accident victim is eligible to file a claim; after this window closes, the victim is no longer eligible to seek a legal recovery for that accident.
Statutes of limitations often range from 2 to 4 years after the accident but can be much shorter. In Tennessee, for example, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is only 1 year from the date of the accident. Considering all of the evidence that will need to be collected, analyzed, and documented as well as the paperwork that will need to be completed and submitted to the court, it’s important to begin the process as soon as possible after an accident. In fact, even if a car accident victim is still in the hospital, they or a loved one can reach out to a car accident attorney to begin investigating the case.
It may help to note that most car accident attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if and when they win the case. This allows attorneys to get a jump on the case before evidence can be lost, and ensures that no time is lost on the timer that starts immediately after the accident.
To learn more about car accident law in your state, or to discuss the timeline for your car accident lawsuit, reach out to an accident attorney in your area.