Filing a lawsuit is never fun (unless you’re an attorney) but there are often inexplicable delays to the process that can feel very frustrating. Montagna Law wants you to know the steps of filing a Personal Injury lawsuit, and understand the numerous causes of potential delays. We always fight for you and your case, but sometimes there are inevitable setbacks that even Ben Matlock couldn’t have foreseen!
Before the lawsuit is filed, your Montagna Law attorney must investigate your claim. Research is an essential aspect of filing any legal motion, particularly one with potentially significant rewards. We will need time to review your medical history and status, accident reports, statements by witnesses, insurance information and more. Obtaining these materials often takes time in and of itself, lengthening the process considerably. It may take up to a month for attorneys to complete the research and investigation stages leading up to filing a Personal Injury lawsuit.
After receiving and reviewing all the relevant information, your Montagna Law attorney must wait for your Maximum Medical Improvement, or for you to heal as much as you are able. Obviously, this process cannot be rushed or hurried, but it is an integral step in determining the value of your case. There is no fixed time for this step as it is fully dependent on your body, your injuries, your recovery.
During this healing time, however, there is one thing we Personal Injury attorneys are able to do, and that is to try and settle your case. By sending what we call a “Demand Letter,” we alert the defendant’s legal representative that we are planning to file a Personal Injury lawsuit, and offer them the opportunity to settle.
Essentially, the Demand Letter says “Give my client $X or we file a lawsuit!”
This step is extremely important. If, after 30 days, no settlement has been reached, then you and your case have a right to a “Bad Faith Claim.” 30 days is considered a “reasonable” amount of time in which to review a claim and respond to it. When an insurance company fails to settle within that 30 days, the company may become responsible for paying the insured’s judgement amount.
We at Montagna Law want to be sure we have explored every avenue of compensation and left every window of opportunity open, so we ask our clients to bear with us during this interminable 30 day waiting period.
After your lawsuit has been filed, there may yet be many delays and postponements. This is not due to a lack of productivity on the part of your Montagna Law Personal Injury attorney; rather it is a reflection of the number of people involved. In order to speak with your doctor, we will have to find openings in the schedules of doctor, lawyer and client.
Remember how long you sat in the waiting room at your last doctor’s checkup? Imagine requiring an hour of that doctor’s time, and you can begin to understand the snags that often occur. These scheduling delays can easily eat up months, and even after the initial discussions have taken place there are still hearing dates, possible mediation and eventually a trial date.
Trial Delays can take the longest of all. This is for a number of reasons, one of which is the very nature of a Personal Injury case. Personal Injury lawsuits are Civil cases, which means that they fall below Criminal cases in terms of priorities. Cases on which lives may depend, or victims may have been traumatized will always take precedence over Civil cases, which are often more concentrated on freedoms.
Trial dates are often set months from the hearing, occasionally even a year in advance. This may sound exasperating, but worse still is the likelihood of your case getting bumped off the daily docket by another case. Dockets are fluid, always changing and shifting. Your trial date may be moved several times, which can feel personal, but we assure you it is not. There is nothing to be done at this stage but await your court date, and prepare.
Continuances are an all-too-common practice in the courtroom. Even after you’ve made it to your trial date, there is no guarantee that things won’t get postponed yet again.
Although disheartening, these delays are simply one piece of the puzzle that is Personal Injury law. If you’ve been in an accident or have otherwise been injured and think you may have a Personal Injury case, contact the Personal Injury attorneys at Montagna Law in downtown Norfolk. We can’t speed up the process of these always-lengthy lawsuits, but we can assure you that your case is being handled with care and focus.
Call today for your free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Attorneys.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.