May
03

How Long Does Car Accident Litigation Take?

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Car Accident LitigationQuestion:  I have a car accident attorney in Dallas.  I was told that a lawsuit must be filed.  How long will that take?

Robert’s Answer:  That’s a hard question to answer. I’ve had cases where settlements took a matter of weeks and nobody ever saw the inside of a courtroom.  I’ve also had cases that were dragged out and delayed for two or three years.

How long a personal injury lawsuit takes depends on a lot of factors.  It can can depend on the severity of the injuries, the number of parties involved in the accident, and whether there is a dispute of fault in the accident. The venue can also make a difference. For instance, and car accident case filed in Dallas may take longer than a case filed in another county.

Typical Steps in a Car Accident Litigation Case.

There are certain steps that face every litigation case.  First, I file the lawsuit against the other driver.  Second, the parties conduct discovery and take depositions.  Third, the parties attend mediation.  And fourth, the parties go to trial, if necessary.

Here is a brief outline of a typical car accident litigation case:

  • Pleading: This starts with filing the complaint with the court for the plaintiff, and serving a copy to the defendant. The defendant then typically answers the complaint.
  • Discovery: This is the long part of the case that takes longer. This is where the plaintiff and defendant’s lawyers ask each other and related third parties for evidence and information relating to the accident. There are interrogatories, and other requests for documents.  Then the parties will take depositions of people involved in the accident, and other witnesses, if necessary. Sometimes the discovery stage can as little as four months or even up to a year depending on the complexity of the case.
  • Trial: All this leads up to trial which takes very little time at all. A simple car accident case can take one day at trial and may even last for three days or more.  Of course, there’s the possibility of appeal should either party disagree with the verdict.
When Can the Case Settle?

Of course, the parties are free to settle the case at anytime during the litigation.  I’ve had cases settle within a week or two after filing the lawsuit.  But typically, a settlement is more likely to come after the parties have completed the discovery stage or at mediation.  Then again, I’ve also had cases settle on the courthouse steps.

In my practice, I spend a great deal of time preparing the case properly in the very beginning.  This is because I want the litigation to go as smoothly as possible in the event I have to file a lawsuit. I do this even though a very small percentage of case get filed, and even an smaller percentage actually go to trial.

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