What’s the Average Time to Settle or Win a Personal Injury Case

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be contemplating the prospect of filing a personal injury claim. Understandably, one of the foremost concerns you may have is the duration of the entire process. The timeline for settling or winning a personal injury case is influenced by many factors, making it imperative to grasp the typical stages and variables that can impact the duration.

Numerous variables contribute to the timeframe of a personal injury case. These factors, such as the extent of your injuries, the cooperation of involved parties, and the specific legal procedures, can significantly affect the length of the process. It’s important to clearly understand these elements, as they can greatly inform your expectations and prepare you for what lies ahead.

By comprehending the various stages and factors that can influence your personal injury case duration, you can equip yourself with realistic expectations. Gaining insight into the typical timeline for settling or winning a personal injury case will allow you to navigate the process more effectively and make informed decisions along the way.

Factors That Impact the Timeline of a Personal Injury Case

A variety of factors influences the timeline of a personal injury case, each playing a crucial role in determining how swiftly or slowly the case progresses. Understanding these factors can help you manage expectations and better prepare for the legal journey.

Type and Severity of Injuries

The nature and extent of your injuries play a significant role in determining the length of your case. Minor injuries like sprains or cuts typically settle faster than severe injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injuries. Cases involving permanent disability or disfigurement are more complex and time-consuming, as they require a thorough assessment of long-term impacts on your life.

Complexity of the Case

The complexity of your case is another crucial factor. Simple cases with clear liability and minimal damages usually settle quicker than complex ones. If your case involves multiple parties, conflicting evidence, or legal issues, it may take longer to resolve. Additionally, cases requiring extensive investigation, expert testimony, or reconstruction analysis have longer timelines.

In our experience, straightforward rear-end collisions with minor injuries often settle within a few months, while multi-vehicle accidents with disputed liability can drag on for a year or more!

Medical Treatment and Maximum Medical Improvement

Settlement usually occurs after you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the point at which further treatment will not improve your condition. Cases with ongoing medical treatment or delayed MMI take longer to settle, as the full extent of your damages must be known before negotiations can conclude.

For example, a case involving surgery and a year of physical therapy will take longer than one with just emergency room treatment. It’s crucial to continue your medical care as needed and not rush to settle before understanding the long-term implications of your injuries.

Insurance Company Cooperation

The insurance company’s willingness to cooperate and negotiate in good faith can significantly impact the timeline of your case. If the insurer is cooperative and reasonable, a settlement may be reached more quickly. However, if they employ adversarial or stalling tactics, the process can be delayed.

We’ve seen cases where insurers dispute liability despite clear evidence or make unreasonably low offers, dragging out the process for months or even years. In these situations, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help keep the case moving forward.

Court Dockets and Scheduling

If your case goes to trial, the court’s schedule and docket can affect the timeline. Crowded court dockets in busy jurisdictions lead to delays in getting trial dates, and scheduling conflicts with lawyers, experts, or witnesses can also slow the process.

Average Time to Settle or Win a Personal Injury Case

The nature of the accident can affect the time it takes to settle a claim. For instance, if you’re injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it can impact the timeline. While there’s no exact timeline for settling car accident claims, typically, it takes between 12 and 18 months as a general guideline.

State courts also report varying timelines for personal injury cases. The Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that civil trials involving personal injury claims can take several years to resolve, especially if they go to trial. Most of these trials are jury trials, which can add to the duration.

For specific types of injury claims, such as those under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), the average time to adjudicate claims is about 3.5 years, with most cases resolved through negotiated settlements.

It’s not uncommon to wait 12-18 months for an available trial date in some areas, so be prepared for a lengthy process if your case doesn’t settle beforehand.

Typical Personal Injury Case Timeline

From the initial incident to the resolution of the case, each step in the process is essential for achieving a fair outcome. Let’s explore the typical personal injury case timeline to gain a better understanding of what to expect.

Gathering Evidence and Building the Case

The first stage of your personal injury case involves gathering evidence and building a strong claim. This includes:

  • Interviewing you and any witnesses
  • Collecting police reports, medical records, bills, and wage documentation
  • Consulting with experts to understand the technical aspects of the case
  • Calculating total damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering
  • Drafting a demand letter outlining the case and damages to the insurance company

This phase typically takes 1-3 months on average, depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of information.

Negotiation and Settlement Discussions

Once your lawyer submits the demand letter, the insurance company will review it and make an initial offer. This kicks off the negotiation process, where your attorney and the insurer engage in back-and-forth discussions to reach an agreeable settlement amount.

Mediations or settlement conferences may be held to facilitate the process. If a fair agreement is reached, your case ends here. This stage usually takes 2-6 months on average, but can vary depending on the willingness of both parties to compromise.

Filing a Lawsuit

If no settlement is reached, your attorney will file a lawsuit in court. The complaint outlines your case and is served to the defendant, who then files an answer responding to the allegations. This process typically takes 1-2 months.

It’s important to note that filing a lawsuit doesn’t mean your case will necessarily go to trial. Many cases settle after a lawsuit is filed, as the threat of trial can motivate insurers to offer a fair settlement.

Discovery Phase

During discovery, both sides request and exchange relevant documents and information. This includes depositions (sworn out-of-court testimony) of parties and witnesses, as well as disclosure of expert witnesses.

The discovery phase is crucial for building a strong case and can take 6-12 months, depending on the complexity of the issues involved. In our experience, this stage often uncovers key evidence that can make or break a case!

Mediation and Settlement Negotiations

With most evidence on the table after discovery, lawyers engage in more informed settlement negotiations. Formal mediation with a neutral third party is common at this stage, as it provides a final opportunity to settle before incurring the expense and uncertainty of trial.

This process usually takes 2-3 months but can be shorter or longer depending on the willingness of both sides to reach a compromise.


If no settlement is reached, your case will proceed to trial before a judge or jury. Both sides present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses, and the jury deliberates to reach a verdict.

The length of a trial can vary from a few days to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. In total, the trial process can take anywhere from 1 week to 2 months.

Takeaways and Next Steps

Most personal injury cases take between several months and a few years to settle or reach a verdict. Straightforward cases with clear liability and cooperative insurers usually resolve faster, while complex cases involving severe injuries, large damages, and stubborn defendants take longer.

Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer can help streamline the process and maximize your recovery. Your attorney can guide you through each stage of the case, from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurers and presenting your case at trial if necessary.

If you’re struggling financially while your case is pending, pre-settlement funding from companies like Mayfair Legal Funding can provide much-needed support. These cash advances can help cover medical bills, lost wages, and living expenses while you await a settlement or verdict.

To get started, gather all relevant documentation related to your accident and injuries, including police reports, medical records, and insurance correspondence. Schedule consultations with reputable personal injury lawyers in your area to discuss your case and learn more about the legal process.

Remember, each case is unique, and the timeline for resolution depends on numerous factors. However, understanding the typical stages and variables can help you set realistic expectations and make informed decisions throughout the process.

Pre-Settlement Funding at Mayfair: A Lifeline During the Legal Process

If you’re facing mounting bills and expenses while your personal injury case is pending, pre-settlement funding from Mayfair Legal Funding can provide a vital lifeline. Our non-recourse cash advances can help you cover medical treatment, rent, mortgage payments, and daily living costs, allowing you to focus on your recovery without financial stress.

The application process is quick and easy, with no credit check or employment verification required. If approved, you can receive funds in as little as 24 hours. Best of all, you only repay the advance if you win your case – if you lose, you owe us nothing!

Don’t let financial pressures force you to accept a lowball settlement offer. With pre-settlement funding from Mayfair Legal Funding, you can level the playing field and pursue the full compensation you deserve. Call us today at (888) 357-1338 to learn more and apply for funding.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average settlement amount for a personal injury case?

Settlement amounts vary widely depending on the severity of the injuries, the extent of damages, and the specific circumstances of the case. While some cases settle for a few thousand dollars, others can result in awards of millions. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help evaluate your case and estimate a reasonable settlement range.

How long does it take to receive a settlement check after an agreement is reached?

Once a settlement agreement is signed, it typically takes 2-6 weeks to receive the check. The insurance company will process the paperwork and issue payment to your attorney, who will then deduct legal fees and expenses before disbursing the remaining funds to you.

What happens if the defendant appeals the verdict?

If the defendant appeals the verdict, the case will move to a higher court for review. This can extend the timeline for resolution by several months or even years, depending on the complexity of the issues and the court’s schedule. However, appeals are relatively rare in personal injury cases, and most verdicts are upheld.

Can I settle my personal injury case without a lawyer?

While it’s possible to settle a personal injury case without a lawyer, it’s generally not recommended. Insurance companies are skilled at minimizing payouts and may take advantage of unrepresented claimants. An experienced personal injury attorney can help protect your rights, negotiate with insurers, and maximize your recovery.