The simple answer is, no one really knows because there are generally three unknown factors at the beginning of a case that influence time:
⇒ How long it will take for your body to heal from an accident;
⇒ How long it will take for all treating doctors to complete their medical findings on you; and,
⇒ How long it will take for your attorney to communicate the medical findings to the insurance company for its review.
This means every case is unique unto itself because every injury affects each person differently, depending on the availability of good medical care and the ability of the body to return to its pre- accident status. Each case will also differ, depending on whether or not a person needs immediate surgery or future surgery, or if there are disfiguring injuries that need additional time to heal or that may result in significant scarring. I can tell you that once you are fully released from all medical care by your doctor, your attorney’s office needs to make sure all medical evidence is being submitted so a comprehensive demand package can be put together. The attorney needs to do this in a timely manner.
Generally speaking, after the settlement demand is submitted your lawyer should have a better idea of how long the insurance company will take to review your specific injury and the medical facts surrounding your case. The insurance company must send a written status to your lawyer every thirty days to keep him or her apprised of their review and what might be needed further. This timing is also judged in part by your attorney in terms of whether or not a lawsuit will need to be filed or not. Your attorney can determine this after they’ve received all of the medical findings. Some injuries can heal in a few months, some in a year and some can take even longer. Your injury is like your own thumbprint. It makes your care completely unique.
If your injury claim goes into litigation, it means your lawyer had to file a lawsuit because the settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance company was too low or because the statute of limitations arose. Then depending on the complexities of the case itself, it may take one to two years before your case makes it to a trial. In California, the San Diego courts have what it is called fast track. The goal behind fast track is to get a trial date set within one year of filing the lawsuit. However, service issues, discovery and medical issues can sometimes delay even the best efforts to fast track. Therefore, a good estimate for timeframes of getting to a jury trial in San Diego County is one to two years from date of filing the lawsuit. However, keep in mind that just because a lawsuit has to be filed does not necessarily mean your case will be decided by a jury trial. Statistically speaking, the chance of your injury case being decided by a jury trial is less than ten percent. There will be plenty of opportunities for your lawyer to successfully settle your case in either a court-ordered or a voluntary mediation, arbitration or settlement conference with a judge. If this happens, it is usually after you complete the “discovery phase” of the litigation process prior to your medical experts being officially named in your case.