What Is the Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Minnesota?
An injury can mean thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages, not to mention ample pain and suffering. When the injury is caused by someone else’s negligence, many victims seek compensation to help with the financial fallout.
A personal injury lawsuit can take time, however, and the whole process may seem daunting—especially when you’re already dealing with the pain and stress of an injury. But the more you know ahead of time, the easier it will be.
So what is the timeline of a personal injury lawsuit in Minnesota? Every case is different, but there is a standard pattern. We’ve put together an overview of the usual steps.
Minnesota Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline
1. Medical Attention
First, as soon as the injury occurs, you should consider medical attention. Even if the injury doesn’t seem that severe, the symptoms may just be delayed. Postponing treatment could make them worse once they do show up.
Besides, a prompt medical examination after an injury can be crucial to a successful claim. If you don’t seek medical attention right away, an opposing attorney could argue that the injury must not have been so bad. They could also argue that you’re at least partially responsible for the severity of the symptoms since you didn’t take reasonable measures to mitigate the damage at the start.
2. Hiring an Attorney
There’s no law saying you must hire a lawyer in order to pursue a personal injury claim. However, your chances of getting fair compensation will increase dramatically with the expert assistance of an experienced professional.
A skilled personal injury attorney will be able to help you take the right approach to each step of the process, whether you settle out of court or take the case to trial. They can evaluate how strong your legal position is, collect the right data to strengthen it, and present a winning case in court.
Plus, an attorney will handle a lot of the hassle and spare you the headaches. The last thing you need when you’re already suffering is more to worry about.
The decision is yours to make, but without the right backup, you may not get the compensation you need to cover the expenses of your injury.
If you do hire an attorney, they’ll dive right into the initial investigation. During this phase, they’ll conduct a variety of forms of research, such as:
- Asking you about the circumstances that led to your injury
- Collecting police reports
- Reviewing medical files and other relevant documents
- Interviewing witnesses
If they determine that your case is strong enough to pursue, they’ll use the information they’ve gathered to prepare a potential lawsuit.
4. Settlement Negotiations
Before anything gets to court, your personal injury attorney will reach out to the defendant’s insurance company to negotiate a settlement. Your attorney will use the case they’ve built to show the defendant that taking it to trial would be futile and that they may as well settle. The stronger the case, the more you’ll be able to ask for in damages.
This step might be the last one for you, too. No matter how an injury was caused, whether a car crash, slip and fall accident, medical malpractice, or other form of negligence, the vast majority are settled out of court. In many cases, the parties involved settle before a lawsuit is even filed.
5. Filing the Lawsuit
If you’re unable to reach a satisfactory settlement upfront, your attorney will help you file a lawsuit against the defendant.
Once a lawsuit is filed, your attorney will have the appropriate documents served to the defendant to inform them of your claim. This typically happens within 30 days after filing. The defendant will then have 20 days to respond with a written answer. If they don’t respond before that deadline, the court may judge in your favor by default.
6. Written Questions
Next, both legal teams will exchange written questions called “interrogatories.” This usually starts around 60 days after the lawsuit was filed, and the parties must respond within 30 days.
Your attorney will be able to advise you on what questions to ask and how to answer the defendant’s questions without hurting your case.
7. Defense Medical Examination
It’s very common for the defendant’s insurance company to demand a medical examination of their own to verify the details of your injury. If they do, you’ll want your attorney to be present to make sure that nothing in the examination is twisted into evidence against you.
A deposition is a less formal proceeding than presenting actual testimony in court. You’ll have to answer questions by the defendant’s attorney while under oath. A court reporter will be present to keep track of the conversation, and all statements made can be used during the trial.
The defendant’s attorney will be looking for any weak points in your case, so your personal injury attorney will prep you thoroughly beforehand on what to say—and not say.
Oral depositions generally take place within 6 months of filing the lawsuit.
9. Hiring and Deposition of Expert Witnesses
If the case is still headed for a trial, both sides will hire expert witnesses such as doctors or psychiatrists to support their case. Each side must disclose who their expert witnesses are as well as the subject of their testimony.
Once the expert witnesses are brought on board, there will be additional depositions in which the legal teams will get to interview them.
At this stage, the court will typically order a settlement conference mediated by a legal expert, usually a current or former judge not associated with the case. This mediator reviews the case and guides the parties through another negotiating phase to see if a settlement can be reached. The process is usually over in a day, but more complex cases may require an additional day of negotiation.
This court-ordered mediation phase usually occurs somewhere between nine and eighteen months after the lawsuit was filed. If you reach an agreement with the defendant, the trial is canceled. If not, it continues as originally planned.
Personal injury trials can last any length of time, from a single day to several months. Most commonly, however, they range between four days and two weeks.
The legal teams on each side will present their cases and attempt to sway the judge or jury to rule in favor of their client. Once a verdict is reached, you will find out whether you’re receiving any compensation—and how much.
This is when all that research and planning your attorney conducted will pay off.
12. Post-Trial Appeals
Even after a verdict is reached at trial, either side can still try to raise or lower the amount awarded. Alternatively, you can reach a settlement agreement that’s more agreeable to all the parties involved than whatever the judge or jury decided.
13. Disbursement of Recovery Funds
At the end of the whole process, whatever compensation you won will be given to you within 30 days of a verdict or settlement agreement. Congratulations! Hopefully, you’ve won enough to cover the expenses of your injury, as well as any pain and suffering.
How Long Does the Average Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
The length of a personal injury lawsuit depends on whether you settle or go to trial. If you’re able to reach a settlement, it might not take long at all. On the other hand, if you have to go to trial, it could last for more than a year.
The reputation of the law firm you hire can improve your chances of reaching a suitable settlement and getting your compensation as soon as possible. If the defendant is impressed by your legal team and the initial investigation you’ve conducted, they’ll be much more likely to offer a settlement.
Get Expert Help for Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury claims are complicated. There are a lot of moving parts and plenty of nuances. A skilled personal injury attorney will know how to tackle the case in order to get the most compensation.
At SiebenCarey, we’ve spent decades helping thousands of injury victims get the compensation they’re entitled to. Contact us, and we’ll help you understand the details of your case and see to it that you win every dollar you’re owed.