How Long Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Take?

How Long Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Take?

car accident lawsuit

When people get into a car accident, they always want to know how quickly the case can be settled so that they can receive the much-needed funds to reimburse the outlay of expenses they’ve had to put forth due to the incident. Unfortunately, even the simplest motor vehicle accident can take several days or weeks to settle.

If the accident is major and involves serious injuries, the settlement can take months. The reason for the long delay in settlements after a car accident is that not only are there many people involved, but there is also a significant amount of paperwork that needs to be collected, read, and evaluated. The legal system is a juggernaut that has a slow methodical process with many rules and regulations that need to be followed.

Additionally, an amicable settlement requires two parties to come to an agreement, which is not always possible when one is dealing with an insurance company. When a settlement is not possible, the case usually goes to trial. If you have been involved in a car accident, and want to know the answer to the question, “How long does a car accident settlement take?” – consider the following.

  1. It is important to understand that the majority of car accident cases are settled and never go to trial. However, sometimes the fault may not be easily determined, the other party may question the extent of the individual’s injuries and recovery time, and/or the amount of compensation may be disputed. When this happens, a lawsuit is inevitable.

  2. To initiate the lawsuit, the lawyer will file a complaint on behalf of the plaintiff. The lawyer will first need to collect the police report, obtain the medical report, and detail the injuries.

  3. The lawyer will then send a copy of the complaint to the defendant, which in most cases may be the insurer or the other driver. In most cases, this process will take a few weeks.

  4. The other party (defendant) will answer the complaint. In most cases, depending on the jurisdiction, the defendant has about 4-6 weeks to file an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint.

  5. Defendant’s motion: Sometimes at this stage, the defendant may file a motion to have the case dismissed before even replying to the complaint. This motion can easily add another 1-3 months as the judge has to review the case before making a decision.

  6. The discovery process: Once both sides have seen the complaint, they will each request and exchange the relevant information of the car accident that will serve as evidence at the upcoming trial. If the case is not too complex, the discovery process may take 3-4 months but, in rare cases, it can take up to 12 or months. Each side wants to know what the other side has so that they can bolster their defense.

  7. Trial date: The trial date is then set, and most car accident trials are completed within 1-3 days.

  8. Appeal: If one of the parties is not happy with the verdict of the trial, then an appeal is a possibility. There are also various appeal levels but even one appeal can easily add another 12-36 months to the length of the case. The reason for this is that the courts have hundreds of appeals every year to hear and it is normal for courts to be backlogged.

From the day the lawsuit was filed to having a date set for trial for a motor vehicle lawsuit can easily take 12 months. This is assuming that there are no appeals and things move forward as usual. Luckily, going to trial for a motor vehicle accident is very rare; most cases usually settle before ending up in court.

The bottom line is if you were involved in a car accident that clearly was not your fault and the insurer has no arguments, then the case can be settled within weeks. However, if there is a dispute about the fault or the extent of injuries and amount of compensation, then in most cases negotiations take place between the two parties even if a lawsuit has been filed. In the majority of cases, at some point, the two parties will come to a reasonable solution that offers adequate compensation to the victim. This process can take anywhere from 3-9 months on average.


How long does a car accident settlement take?  If you want a maximum settlement following your car accident, the important thing is to select a competent and experienced personal injury lawyer. These professionals know the legal system and how to fight for your rights. The earlier the lawyer gets acquainted with your case, the quicker he or she can file a complaint. Remember, there is also a statute of limitations for filing injury claims in Florida. Personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation where you are at liberty to ask any questions and the merits of your case can be discussed. The lawyer only gets paid when you win, so call today.