Legal Guide

How Long Does a Lawsuit Take?

Unless you’re trained in the judicial system, you might not know a lot about the process of a lawsuit. In fact, most lawyers will tell you that law is complex and often ambiguous, generally lacking straight forward answers. A lawyer should understand the complications and loopholes within the system - the gripping lawsuits that capture the nation are often full of twists and turns.

If you’re wondering how long a lawsuit takes: how long is a piece of string? No two lawsuits are the same, and there is no set length. Whilst your lawyer might be able to give you an approximate timeframe, there are many factors that come into play. So, what are they?

Filing the lawsuit

The length of a lawsuit might rely on when the person files it to begin with. The issue of how long to file a lawsuit can be a difficult one, as each state has its own rules. If you’ve had an accident and want to sue, one state may allow you to do this within two years of the date of the injury, whereas another state may allow four years. Generally, it’s better to file the lawsuit sooner rather than later, as the event will be fresh in people’s minds which gives a level of clarity to the case. A lawsuit might take longer if you’ve taken longer to file it, as the investigation and contacting witnesses may be more challenging.

Finding a lawyer

If you already have a lawyer, this part should be quick and straight forward. However, if you’re looking to file a lawsuit and don’t yet have a lawyer, this can add time. Choosing your lawyer is an important part of filing a lawsuit, and you’ll need to make sure that you pick someone you trust to represent you. Whilst you want to get things moving, don’t rush the decision. Do your research: ask friends and relatives, look at online reviews and visit a few lawyers in person. Trusting your gut is important.

Negotiations

Not all cases go to trial. Sometimes there are pre-trial negotiations, where your lawyer will talk to the insurance company and agree on a settlement. If you, the client, are happy with this, the case will be closed and deemed short and sweet. Lawyers negotiate all the time, so this is a chance for you to sit back and let them do their job. However, if you’re not happy with the settlement, the case may still go to trial.

Trial

When we think of law, we think of complicated courtroom trials, full of twists and turns like those we see on TV. But this isn’t the norm. Whilst high profile cases like those of Richard Nixon, OJ Simpson or Ted Bundy gripped the nation with their TV-like dramatics, many cases are settled quickly and without complications. A good lawyer will want to get the best settlement for you as quickly as possible. However, law can be unpredictable and you never know what could happen. Hence, a lawsuit never has a set length.


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