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Why is My Lawyer Taking So Long to Settle My Case?

If you’re wondering why it’s taking your lawyer so long to settle your case, you’ll be interested to know that the time it takes to settle a legal case can vary widely depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the cooperation of the parties involved, the workload of the court system, and the negotiation process.
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What are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

According to an MB publication from 2023, initiating your lawsuit marks the formal commencement of the legal process [1]. Your personal injury attorney will file a document, typically called a complaint, with the relevant civil court. Subsequently, a deputy or process server will serve the responsible party, officially notifying them of the lawsuit.

  • Discovery and Pretrial Procedures - The subsequent phase involves discovery, during which each party seeks facts about the case and gathers evidence from the other party. This process might include responding to written questions (interrogatories) and conducting sworn interviews (depositions). The discovery phase can span several months or even longer.
  • Ongoing Settlement Negotiations - Throughout the discovery process and pretrial motions, negotiations for a settlement with the at-fault party's insurance company usually continue. Many personal injury cases are resolved during this stage of the legal process. "As the insurer sees the legitimate reasons why you and your attorney push forward with the case to hold their policyholder accountable, they are often willing to increase their offer. Settlement talks often continue until the trial date arrives and sometimes after it begins."
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution - Subsequently, you may engage in mediation or another form of guided negotiation in an attempt to reach a settlement agreement. Many cases are resolved at this juncture. If not, the judge will schedule a trial date on the court's calendar.
  • Personal Injury Trial - The majority of cases are settled before reaching the trial stage. In the event that a trial is necessary, it typically lasts at least one or two days, though some trials can extend for much longer periods. Each party will present their arguments, and the judge or jury will determine if you are entitled to compensation and the amount thereof.

Reasons Why it May Take a Long Time to Settle a Case

Here are some common reasons why it might be taking longer than expected for your lawyer to settle your case:

  • The complexity of the case: Cases involving multiple parties, extensive damages, or complicated legal issues can take longer to resolve.
  • Evidence gathering: Gathering evidence, including documents, witness statements, and expert opinions, can be a time-consuming process.
  • Negotiation process: Negotiating a settlement that is fair and satisfactory to all parties involved can take time, especially if there are disagreements on key issues.
  • Court backlog: The court system may be experiencing delays due to a backlog of cases, which can slow down the resolution of your case.
  • Opposing party's tactics: The other party may be employing delay tactics or may be uncooperative, which can prolong the settlement process.
  • Legal complexities: Legal issues that arise during the course of the case, such as changes in laws or regulations, can add time to the settlement process.
  • Client input: Your lawyer may be waiting for your input or decision on certain aspects of the case, which can delay progress.

What Percentage of Lawsuits Settle Before Trial?

According to the Law Dictionary publication from 2021, approximately 95 percent of ongoing lawsuits are resolved through pre-trial settlements, indicating that only a small fraction proceed to trial for adjudication by a judge or jury [2]. This underscores the importance of preparing for a settlement as a vital aspect of effective legal strategy.

This suggests that pre-trial settlements may be in the best interest of defendants who lack strong evidence to defend themselves against the charges that they face. In straightforward personal injury cases, the outcome of a trial can hinge on the testimony of a single key witness or the examination of certain pertinent records - Law Dictionary Org.

Many experienced plaintiffs in personal injury cases use the pre-trial period to construct a compelling case that encourages their adversaries to settle for a favorable amount. If you prefer to settle your case prior to trial, it is essential to inform your attorney promptly.

Data suggests that personal injury trials tend to favor the plaintiff, with over 90 percent of cases resulting in a favorable outcome for the party initiating the lawsuit.

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The Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new legal challenges in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one was involved with these matters, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.

References:

1. https://thelawdictionary.org/article/what-percentage-of-lawsuits-settle-before-trial-what-are-some-statistics-on-personal-injury-settlements/
2. https://www.morrisbart.com/faqs/personal-injury-lawsuit-timeline/