New from the Front: How long does it take?
Everyone I represent hesitates to ask but always wants to know, "How long will this lawsuit take?" Like everything else the real answer is, it depends, but there are some generalities that may be worth noting. Assume there is 'no-question' that there is a serious injury at issue in the claim in a motor vehicle accident, a fractured limb comes to mind, and there is a 'no question' liability claim, a stand-still-hit-in-the-rear comes to mind or a gravity related labor law claim with strict liability also helps move things along as it will make summary judgment on the liability component more likely than not; it still could take a long time. There may be real questions as to the full value warranted to fairly and adequately compensate the accident victim for the consequences of their injuries and/or, in the construction case, the many possible defendants may have significant litigation to determine who is more responsible among the multiple responsible parties and who should bear the greater burden in satisfying the debt that has been created by the accident, general and sub-contractors may be at war for a while just figuring out what the contracts between themselves dictate before any discussion and resolution with the victim can reasonably be initiated, undertaken and reached.
Still there are certain best case scenario timelines: Accident today, suit written tomorrow, service of the suit within two weeks, sued parties have thirty days to answer which, at least in my practice, if they want an extension of another thirty days to answer at the end of the initial thirty days I always allow. Discovery begins, an RJI (Request for Judicial Intervention) is filed to have a judge assigned and a PC (Preliminary Conference) is held to schedule when the parties will testify, when all the discovery should be completed, when the defendant Independent Medical Examinations (one or more) should take place, then the case is certified ready for trial (or no certification needed depending on the county where the action is pending), a Note of Issue is filed (saying the case is ready for trial) and the wait for a Jury selection date begins, a trial, a verdict and no-one appeals (this is best case fantasy remember) - 2 years.
It can happen in less time (I'm starting a trial on a 4-5-14 accident as I write), but the attorney that promises less than two years paves the way for a world of near certain grief as the calendar rolls on and the case continues into year three and on.