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The first thing many people want to know when they begin a personal injury claim is how long the case will take? It is a tricky question. After a few cases, almost every lawyer learns not to give a definite answer to this question because the best they can say at the beginning of the process, like almost all legal answers, is that it depends on the facts of the case, the parties involved, and the curves life may throw at you during the process. There are factors that can influence the time it takes a case to conclude.
Cases that end up in court always take longer than those that do not. About 90 percent of personal injury cases are negotiated without ever involving a judge or a constable. In Montana, the statute of limitations for negligence is three years. In order to avoid court, your case must settle within three years from the date of your accident. If you cannot settle it in this timeframe, you will be forced into litigation, and that process could take years.
Winning personal injury cases are built on foundations of good evidence. If you have definitive proof that someone else was negligent, and that that negligence caused your injuries, it will be easy to settle your case. If, however, key facts are in dispute, your case will take time to settle and may even require the intervention of a judge and jury to adjudicate the evidence and determine who is right.
The stickiest issue in settling quickly is that you do not really know what it is going to cost to heal your injuries until you have seen a doctor, and started treatment. You do not want to settle a case before you know the extent of your injuries because something that appears minor at first could affect you for the rest of your life. Attorneys like to have clients complete their medical treatment before heading to the negotiating table.
Cases, where the injuries are straightforward, such as wrongful death, settle quicker than cases that involve life-long impairment. However, even a wrongful death case can take more than a year.
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