For detailed information, see How Long Does an Accident Case Take?
You may also be interested in How long does it take to get my settlement check after settling my accident case? and How Much Is My Injury Worth?
You go to the hospital or see a doctor and/or call a lawyer (some people don’t call a lawyer until much later but see why you should call a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident)
Your personal injury lawyer immediately begins investigating the accident, insurance coverage, and sends claim letters to all parties and insurance companies
When medical treatment is completed or you received sufficient treatment, your lawyer will request your medical records
If your injury is established and negligence can be determined, your lawyer will send your medical records to the insurance company and see if your case can be settled
Refuse the Settlement Offer
A lawsuit is started by filing a Summons & Complaint in NYS Supreme Court
The defense attorney serves an Answer to the Complaint
A Preliminary Conference Order is issued by the court scheduling a timeline for everything to be done on your case
Each side exchanges documents, photos, and information with the other side about the accident, insurance, and injuries
If the insurance company uses an investigator to get video of you, it is likely to happen sometime before or after your deposition
Plaintiff and defendant are asked questions by the opposing attorney at a deposition in an office setting. Questions and answers are recorded by a court reporter
A Compliance Conference is held by the court to make sure everything was done. If not, depositions and a defense medical exam is scheduled again
Defense Medical Exam
The plaintiff (you) attends a medical examination by a defense doctor who will testify at trial
This is a time when a settlement is possible because the insurance company now knows what their doctor says and your case is finished
This conference is to make sure everything has been completed and give permission to file a “Note of Issue” which puts your case on the trial calendar
A “Note of Issue” is filed to put your case on the trial calendar
Waiting & More Conferences!
Your case will be on the trial calendar for 18-24 months (approx. 2 months if you’re over age 70 or have a terminal illness)! Many more conferences are held requiring only the attorneys to appear in court
If not yet settled, cases are almost always settled now because both the insurance company and plaintiff start getting nervous about going to trial
Your case may be settled after picking a jury and before the trial starts. Even after a trial has begun, cases are sometimes settled in the middle of trial
The defense will frequently offer a settlement lower than the jury verdict and threaten to file an appeal if not settled (we usually refuse settlement offers lower than the jury verdict)
If your case isn’t settled immediately after trial, the defense may file an appeal to see if you’re willing to settle for less than the jury verdict (see why below)
If the case is not settled, the appeal takes another 1-2 years. Lawyers never include legal fees for appeal in the original retainer. The legal fee may now be increased from 33% to 50% of total recovered or by a specified dollar amount.