Timelines in a Litigated Personal Injury Case

Utah car accident personal injury cases can be resolved in several ways: (1) Don’t file a lawsuit, and settle with the insurance company; (2) File a Small Claims lawsuit; (3) File a District Court lawsuit with arbitration; or, (4) File a District Court lawsuit with a jury track. This article describes the basic time lines when your personal injury case is filed in District Court with, or without arbitration.

Lawsuit is Filed: The at-fault driver must be personally served. Sometimes it is difficult to find people and the service of a lawsuit can take a month or two.

TIME: 30 days, but can vary.

Answer: Once the at-fault driver is served, that person generally reports the lawsuit to their insurance company and your personal injury attorney will often send a copy of the service to the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier also. The insurance company will assign in-house attorneys to defend their insured at-fault driver, or outside counsel will be hired to defend the insured.

TIME: 21 days. But extensions are commonly granted by counsel.

Plaintiff’s Initial Disclosures: Initial Disclosures are automatic disclosures of all known witnesses and exhibits between the parties.

TIME: 14 days after the Answer. Running Time Total: 65 days.

Defendant’s Initial Disclosures:

TIME: 42 days after filing of the first Answer to the Complaint or within 28 days after that defendant’s appearance, whichever is later. Running Time Total: 107 days.

Fact Discovery: Depending on how big your case is both parties complete fact discovery within 120 days to 210 days. Discovery is the time period where treating doctors are deposed and written interrogatories are given to the other side for answering. There are various discovery tools to use during the fact discovery time period and vary depending the on the case. Subpoenas, requests for admissions, requests for the production of documents, inspection of land, and many more.

TIME: 120 to 210 days. Cases are often delayed and extra time is granted. Running Time Total: 227 days.

Expert Discovery: Expert discovery is where the plaintiff injured party lists all their expert, non-fact witnesses they intend on using at trial. These are the injured party’s treating doctors or retained expert witnesses. The defendant will list his set of expert doctors, accident reconstructionists, or CPAs as the case may be.

TIME: 42 days. Running Time Total: 269 days.

Mediation or Arbitration: Mediation is where you have a trained attorney, usually a former personal injury attorney, who facilitates settlement of the case. Mediation is completely voluntary and either party can walk away at any time. Arbitration is where you essentially rent a judge for the day to resolve your case. The arbiter is also usually an experienced personal injury attorney.

TIME: 30-40 days to get all the lawyers, clients and the arbiter’s to clear calendar dates for mediation or arbitration to occur. Running Time Total: 334 days.

A JURY TRIAL: If your case is on a jury trial track, getting a jury trial date will take a long time, even though your case is completely ready for trial. Court calendars are very busy and criminal cases take precedence over civil cases. How soon you can get a jury date also varies on the county you are trying the case in. Salt Lake County courts are slower than Wayne County.

TIME: Varied, but at least 5 months. Running Time Total: 484 days.

POST JUDGMENT MOTIONS: Not all trials will encounter extensive post-trial motions, but if they do occur, you will be looking at 14 days to file them, and a decision by the court could take another 30 days.

TIME: 45 days. Running Time Total: 529 days.

APPEAL: If you succeed at the jury trial and a large amount of compensation is ordered by the jury’s verdict, the insurance company may appeal the case.

TIME: 30 days to appeal the verdict then possible another six months before an appellate decision is rendered. Running Time Total with final resolution of the appeal: 559 days.

CONCLUSION:

When deciding whether to settle your case before filing a lawsuit, or once the lawsuit is filed, time and your ability to endure a lawsuit really must be taken into consideration. Compensation now is often times better than the expenses of filing a lawsuit.

Utah personal injury attorney Jacob S. Gunter has been through this process many times before. Call him at (801) 373-6345 for a free car accident personal injury consultation.