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Personal Injury Case Timeline

Helping Client

If you’ve been injured and are considering filing a personal injury claim, you may find yourself wondering how long the whole process will take. Every personal injury case is different, so there is no definite amount of time from the day of the accident to the day you receive your settlement.

Car Accident

How Long Do Personal Injury Claims Take?

The length of time a personal injury claim takes depends on a number of factors. The first is the severity of your injuries and how long medical treatment takes. Your attorney will wait to file a claim until your injuries have been fully treated, in order to ensure your settlement covers all your expenses.

If the insurance company is willing to settle before a lawsuit is filed, a personal injury case may take
less than a year. If the case goes to trial, it may be years before it is settled.


What to Expect When Filing a Claim

Filing a personal injury claim can be overwhelming and stressful, particularly if you aren’t familiar with the process. Here are a few things you should know before filing a claim.

Shot of a doctor showing a patient some information on a digital tablet

Seek medical treatment quickly

A settlement from a personal injury claim is intended to compensate accident victims for losses and damages related to their accident. This includes medical bills, vehicle repairs, and loss of wages, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. This means that you need to seek medical attention and vehicle repairs as soon as possible following your accident.

Hiring an attorney can increase your settlement

Studies have shown that accident victims who hire an attorney can receive settlements up to 3.5 times larger than if they filed the claim on their own. An experienced personal injury attorney can navigate the legal process and ensure you don’t miss out on compensation you are legally entitled to.

Time will run out

If you plan to file a claim, you should do so sooner rather than later. Each state has a statute of limitations, or a designated time frame, for filing a claim. Once the statute of limitations has expired, you will not be able to file. For that reason, it is important to reach out to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so that they may evaluate your claim and help you avoid missing the deadline.

There are two ways to win a case

Once you file a claim, it can go a few different ways. In most cases, your attorney and the at-fault party’s insurance company will be able to settle out of court. If negotiations are unsuccessful or the other party’s offer is too low, your case may go to trial.

Initial Investigation

Once you have met with an attorney and made the decision to file a claim, the initial investigation into the accident will begin. Your attorney will ask you questions about the accident, read the police report, and look over any evidence you have. They will gather medical records, document your damages, and speak with eyewitnesses. They will also be responsible for communicating with insurance companies. The investigation process can take more than a year, depending on how long your recovery takes and how long it takes your attorney to gather evidence.

It is important that you continue to receive medical treatment and document all new symptoms or pain. The associated expenses will be added to your claim.

Settlement Negotiations

When the investigation process is complete, the attorney will send a settlement demand letter to the other party (typically to their attorney or insurance company). The demand letter will ask for a certain amount of compensation for your injuries, depending on your expenses and the policy limits.

Lawyer and client discuss a lawsuit

At this point, negotiations may begin between your attorney and the other party’s insurance provider. The insurance company may respond with a lower offer than what was asked for in the demand letter. It may require some back-and-forth between your attorney and the other party, but most injury cases are settled before they ever go to trial.

If negotiations are successful, a settlement agreement will be drafted and signed by both parties. You will receive the agreed-upon compensation to pay off bills and reimburse your own insurance provider for anything they covered.

If the two parties cannot agree upon a settlement during negotiations, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit, and the case will move into the litigation phase.


During litigation, there are several steps that must be taken before your case ever makes it to a courtroom. In fact, the lawsuit may still be settled out of court. Below are some of the steps in the personal injury lawsuit timeline.

Discovery Process

To file a lawsuit, you must formally file a complaint with the court. The complaint outlines your claim and the amount of money you are asking for as compensation. The complaint is then served to the defendant, who then typically has 30 days to file an answer to the complaint.

After the lawsuit is filed, the discovery phase begins. During this time, each party investigates what evidence the other party has. This evidence may include medical records, video footage, police reports, and other relevant information. The two parties will send interrogatories, or lists of questions, for the other party to answer. Depositions, or testimonies given under oath, are taken from each party as well as witnesses of the accident. Discovery can, and often does, last several months.

Mediation and Negotiations

Negotiations continue to happen throughout the litigation phase as well. Settlement negotiations can happen over the phone between the two attorneys, or they may be more formal. Your attorney always has to get your approval before accepting a settlement offer.

If negotiations aren’t working, other means of reaching a resolution, such as Mediation, might be explored. Mediation is where both clients and their attorneys negotiate with the help of a neutral third party. In many cases, mediation works, and the case is settled before it goes to trial.

Microphone with attorney in the background


If mediation is unsuccessful, your case will go to trial. During the trial phase, there are several steps that can potentially drag a trial out. Some cases last a matter of days, while others can go for more than a week.

First, a jury will be selected. Evidence will be presented to the jury, including expert testimony. The jury must weigh all the evidence before coming to a verdict. Once the jury has come to a conclusion, they will decide whether you have won your suit or not and how much compensation you will be awarded.

Other Factors That Affect the Case Timeline

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to a personal injury case, therefore, each case will take a different amount of time to settle. Some of the factors that play into the timeline of your case include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • How long treatment takes
  • The amount of compensation being sought
  • The defendant’s willingness to settle
  • The court’s caseload

When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have sustained serious injuries in an accident due to someone else’s negligence (such as a car accident, a case of medical malpractice, or a slip and fall), and your damages exceed the amount allowed in small claims court, it is a good idea to contact an attorney. The claims process is long and complex, and a competent lawyer can make sure nothing is missed.

Contact The Advocates for a Free Consultation

The Advocates understand that your recovery is priority number one and are ready to help you every step of the way during your accident case. Call today for a free case evaluation. The sooner you contact an attorney, the more quickly you can get on the path to recovery.

3 Ways to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents

At some point in everyone’s life, gravity sends you sprawling unto the floor. Whether you slip on a spilled liquid, trip due to an electrical cord, or fall because of an icy patch outside of the post office, slip-and-fall incidents are one of the most common types of accidents, as well as one of the most dangerous. According to the US Department of Labor, slip and fall accidents are some of the most typical injury-producing incidents to happen in the workplace.

The following is a list of the most frequent causes of accidents involving slips and falls according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

  • Wet and slick floors
  • Broken or uneven walkways and sidewalks
  • Improper matting or a complete lack of mats
  • Unkempt or unspooled extension or electrical cords
  • Slips caused by inclement weather, such as sleet, ice, snow or frost

Thankfully, the Montana Advocates have assembled this explainer about the top 3 ways anyone can prevent slip and fall injuries in your home or place of work.

1. Where the Rubber Meets the Ground: How To Stop Slip and Fall Accidents

Easily the best  way to prevent a slip and fall incident in your workplace or home is to put down rubber mats specially designed to grip and keep shoes from slipping and sliding when they are trodden upon. Multiple studies have shown that well over 25,000 slip and fall incidents occur every day in the United States, and the best way to prevent such incidents from taking place at all is by putting down proper matting designed to help reduce needless slips and falls. It’s wise to only us floor matting determined to be of ‘high traction’ by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). Anything less than this standard will likely not be adequate enough to keep people standing on their own two feet.

2. Sign For The Times: Use Safety Signs To Prevent Slips

The next best way to prevent slip and falls is to deploy warning signs. After you mistakenly spill a liquid or food item on the floor, the very first thing you should do is post a safety sign warning the area is a hazardous for anyone who may be walking nearby. Such signs are typically colored bright yellow and are easy to see from a distance. Regardless of whether you quickly clean up the slick surface, you should still station a warning sign as a reminder to other people that they should put safety first and always be attentive to any potentially dangerous surface.

3. Slip Shoes: Safety Before Fashion

The most proactive way to prevent landing on your backside and becoming a victim of a slip and fall incident is to buy a dependable pair of slip-resistant shoes. Technology has come far over the last generation and slip-resistant shoes are now able to grip and grab onto the floor in almost any slick situation. So the next time you’re shopping, do yourself a favor and pick up the best pair of slip-resistant shoes you can find. Trust us. You’ll thank me later.

Contact The Montana Advocates Today

Did you know that each and every year over 8 million people are injured in slip and fall incidents just in the US alone? Often, such injuries could have been avoided if common sense precautions, like the ones above, had been taken ahead of time. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident due to another person’s recklessness, you will need an Advocate on your side to deal with the legal aftermath.

The attorneys with the Montana Advocates have decades of experience helping slip and fall accident victims just like you. Don’t hesitate to get back on your feet again. Contact the Montana Advocates today for a free case evaluation. You can either call us at (406) 534-7179 or chat online immediately with a live attorney from our homepage. Don’t wait. Contact us today. You deserve an Advocate!