How long does a personal injury lawsuit take?

Question: How long does a personal injury lawsuit take, and  how quickly will my case be resolved?

Answer: We often tell clients that their case will be over just as soon as the wrongdoers (or their insurance companies) agrees to pay full and fair compensation for their injuries. 

With less serious injuries, early settlement can often be possible. For example, relatively simple car accident cases with clear fault and non-complex injuries are often settled within six to nine months after your medical treatment is complete. 

On the other hand, hard fought personal injury cases where the plaintiff is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars can take several years.

For example, in the lawsuit by school groundskeeper, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, against Monsanto for failure to warn about the cancer risks in its common weedkiller RoundUp, the case was filed in 2016 and finally went to a jury trial in 2018. The trial itself lasted nearly a month.

By the time of trial, Mr. Johnson was dying from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The jury unanimously ordered Monsanto (now Bayer) to pay $289.25 million in damages to Mr. Johnson, but it took nearly two years from the filing of the lawsuit to the verdict.

Monsanto also appealed the large damages verdict, which took over a year to resolve in the Court of Appeal. However, other complicated personal injury cases can take up to five years to resolve due to court backlogs. 

Of course, most cases fall somewhere between being simple and catastrophic. Such cases might be settled anywhere between 9 months and a year after medical treatment is complete. 

Furthermore, most personal injury cases are settled and never go to trial. It is the rare case these days that actually goes to trial due to the enormous expense for both sides, as well as the unpredictable outcome of a jury trial.

For more information, see our detailed article covering the most important personal injury questions