Timeline For Injury Cases
This guide outlines the typical life-cycle and timeline of an injury case from start to finish.
0 to 9 Months: Pre-LawsuitThe injured party should follow up for treatment with their medical providers to obtain relief, document their injury, determine whether their injury is permanent in nature and to fully appreciate the extent of their injury.
The law firm will contact witnesses, document the accident site and investigate the case.
The law firm will identify potential defendants responsible for the crash and obtain insurance information.
The law firm will send a demand letter and attempt negotiate settlement with the responsible parties.
After reaching a settlement, the law firm may negotiate outstanding medical bill balances with the medical providers and resolve any liens against the case.
Filing a LawsuitA lawsuit is filed if the parties are unable to settle the case.
A legal document entitled a Complaint is served on the Defendant and the Defendant is required to respond with an Answer to Admit or Deny the allegations contained within the Complaint.
Both the injured party and the defendant exchange written discovery concerning the facts of the case. The written materials including the following: a list of questions for either side to provide written answers to (known as interrogatories), request the opposing side admit obvious facts concerning the claim (i.e. accident occurred on XYZ date) and request for copies of important documents (i.e. medical records, bill, photographs, tax returns, etc.)
12-15 Months Depositions:
Both parties are permitted to compel any witness with knowledge concerning the case to appear before a court reporter and answer questions. Depositions of the injured parties usually take 2-3 hours (depending on the case and style of the defense attorneys). The defense attorneys are given wide latitude in the questions they are permitted to ask in order to learn how the incident occurred and how the alleged injury impacted the injured party's life.
12-15 Months Compulsory Medical Exam:
The Defense is permitted to compel the injured party to visit 1 or more of their expert witness doctors so they may formulate an opinion on causation of injuries and may testify at a trial.
16-24 Months - Mediation:
Prior to trial the judge will compel both sides to appear before a mediator and attempt to resolve the case. At this point, both sides should have a strong understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their case and will share their positions with the opposing side.
18-24 Months - Trial:
Judges typically hold a "Calendar Call Hearing" in which a trial case is assigned to a rolling trial period (usually 3-4 weeks long) along with 20 to 40 other cases. The parties to the lawsuit will remain on call until their case reaches the top of the list. It usually takes several trial periods (8-12 weeks) for a case to be called for trial. However, it's always possible a case may be called up immediately after their first Calendar Call Hearing.