How Long Does It Take for a Personal Injury Claim to Go to Court in Ohio?
There is no standard answer to the question of how long a personal injury lawsuit will take in Ohio. Factors ranging from the type and severity of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff, the identity of the party that is at fault for inflicting the injuries, and the willingness of experts and witnesses to provide full and timely statements during the pretrial period determine how much time the victim of a car crash, slip and fall, medical error, or assault will spend waiting for a resolution to their case.
It has been our experience when advising and representing personal injury clients in Columbus, Ohio, that injury victims should plan on taking two years from when they file an insurance claim to receiving a settlement or a decision from a civil trial jury. That is just a rough estimate, however. Some cases wrap up in less than six months. Others drag on and on.
We work hard to speed the process by beating deadlines for filing paperwork, scheduling depositions, requesting negotiations, and disposing of motions, but the judge and the insurance company have their own schedules.
So, rather than having them focus on when a case will conclude—which is an understandable, but ultimately frustrating and discouraging, habit—we ask clients to understand the timeline for a personal injury lawsuit. Each case that goes to trial progresses through the following stages.
Filing Insurance Claims Against the At-Fault Party
This happens as soon after the accident as possible. The person who suffers injuries should seek medical treatment, hold on to every piece of paper they receive from a health care provider, and rely on their own health insurance policy to cover immediate medical bills and prescriptions. The settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company or award from a court will reimburse the health insurance company and make up for out-of-pocket costs.
Investigating Claims and Reviewing Medical Records
The at-fault party’s insurance company will assign claims adjustors, investigators, and a team of doctors and other experts to determine whether it should settle with the injured victim or contest the claims. Hiring an experience Columbus personal injury lawyer gives the accident victim access to their own group of investigators and experts.
Engaging in Settlement Negotiations
Accepting the insurance company’s first settlement offer rarely makes sense. The insurer has strong financial incentives to minimize payouts and end cases quickly before the person injured by its policyholder incurs significant expenses for things like follow-up surgeries and long-term disability.
Filing the Lawsuit
Ohio imposes a two-year statute of limitations on filing nearly all types of personal injury lawsuits. Suing may become necessary simply to keep settlement negotiations open, or it may become necessary because the insurance company has made it clear that it has little interest in settling. Occasionally, as when the personal injury victim qualifies to seek punitive damages, going to a jury trial is required.
Discovery, Depositions, and Pretrial Motions
Months or years can be spent requesting and reading through documents, analyzing physical evidence, interviewing witnesses, having experts prepare reports, and asking the judge what evidence can be used during the trial.
Going Through the Trial
Once a personal injury trial begins, it usually wraps up quickly. Even with a jury, reaching a conclusion rarely takes more than two weeks. We do ask our clients to mentally prepare for having the other side appeal a high-dollar award.
While a personal injury lawsuit in Ohio does take a long time, seeing the process through to the end is often the only way to hold negligent and reckless parties accountable for the harm they inflicted. Additionally, we have never represented a client in a personal injury lawsuit who was not in need of the monetary awards that the defendant could be made to pay. Yes, the timeline for a personal injury lawsuit is lengthy and daunting, but the time is worth taking.
Several dedicated personal injury attorneys work out of the Columbus offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman. You can schedule a free consultation online or speak with a lawyer by calling (614) 221-3318 or (800) 678-3318.