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How long does a personal injury claim or lawsuit take?

The time required to resolve a case varies based on many factors, including the severity of the injuries, the complexity of the case, the amount of damages, the Court schedule, a person’s patience to wait for a better result, and the insurance company’s willingness to be reasonable. On average, after hiring a lawyer, most cases take anywhere from one year to five years to resolve. We understand that many of our clients have lost income and are struggling financially, so we do everything in our power to avoid delays in the legal process and to resolve your claim as quickly as possible.

How we fight delay

Complexity of case

A personal injury case settles faster when it is straightforward, like a rear-end collision where it is easy to prove who was at fault. A case takes longer to resolve when parties dispute the case facts, like an accident where parties disagree on who was at fault, or proving total disability for an invisible illness. These cases often involve discovery hearings and require reports from engineers, accident reconstruction specialists, or medical experts.

Claim value

The higher the damages, the less likely the insurance company will pay quickly. In larger damage cases, the insurance company often doesn’t pay until the lawyer applies pressure by scheduling trial dates. The closer the trial date, the more leverage an injured party has.

Severity of injuries

Claims for minor injuries, such as whiplash, resolve quicker than claims involving more severe injuries. Many moderate whiplash or soft tissue injury claims can be settled within 1 to 2 years.

Claims for disabling injuries such as complex fractures, chronic pain, or severe neurological or psychiatric injuries take longer to resolve. These injuries take longer to heal, and it’s difficult to determine a long-term prognosis. Someone usually must be off work for two years before a doctor can say they are disabled. After two years, your recovery will typically plateau.

Patience and willingness to wait for a greater result

We understand that many of our clients have little to no income after an accident. Insurance companies often offer low settlements to resolve the case quickly, but accepting an offer too soon could drastically limit how much you receive.

Experienced lawyers settle cases as quickly as possible without sacrificing our clients’ benefits. Lawyers who promise a quick settlement might compromise your result. At MacGillivray Law, we move cases as quickly as possible without sacrificing our client’s long-term interests.

Insurance companies have time to wait it out, whereas some accident victims have no income between the time of their accident and when they finally get compensation.

Delay benefits the insurance companies. When people get frustrated and desperate, they are more likely to accept a low settlement. If injury victims accept an offer before their recovery has plateaued, they risk being inadequately compensated. Claimants should have evidence about the long-term implications of their injuries before they settle.

What are the steps in a personal injury claim or lawsuit?

The stages and procedure for these cases vary between provinces. The precise procedures are detailed in the rules of court or civil procedure rules for the province where the claim is filed. The stages of a case in the civil courts are filing pleadings, providing document disclosure, having discovery hearings, filing reports from expert witnesses, requesting trial dates, and trial.

Can a personal injury claim settle before trial?

Most cases settle before trial. In larger cases, it is often necessary to have formal settlement meetings administered by a Supreme Court judge or a professional mediator. These are called “judicial settlement conferences” or “mediation”. They are off the record and a chance for an independent, objective party to provide feedback to both sides of the dispute.

Selecting a lawyer

Your lawyer has the responsibility of ensuring that you receive the maximum value for your claim. An experienced injury and disability lawyer will understand the nuances of personal injury law and be skilled in negotiating with insurance companies. Although most claims do settle outside of Court, if your insurer does not provide a fair settlement offer and you have to go to trial, you’ll want the support of a law firm with trial experience fighting for you. Our firm has the resources and depth to represent you for the best outcome.

Following treatment recommendations

You must follow treatment recommendations and try your best to recover. If you do not follow your doctor’s advice, this could be a “failure to mitigate” your damages. If your case goes to trial and the Court finds you did not follow the recommendations, your damages award can be reduced.


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MacGillivray Law is a personal injury law firm with offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We serve clients all across Canada.

If you cannot travel to one of our offices, we will accommodate your circumstances and travel needs. We can provide a consultation by phone, Zoom, or FaceTime, or travel to meet you in your home when required.

If you would like to learn your legal options at no obligation, contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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