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Updated July 31, 2020
Car accidents are often devastating, and the aftermath can be overwhelming. How are you going to pay for medical bills, doctor visits, pain medication, and car repairs? In many cases, you may be able to receive compensation for damages through litigation.
The attorneys at WKW can help you negotiate a settlement and navigate the car accident lawsuit process so you and your family can focus on recovery. We’ll be with you every step of the way—no matter how long it takes.
The answer to this question is, unfortunately, “it depends.”
Overall, most car accident cases end in a settlement, not in the courtroom. Both parties can decide to negotiate a settlement at any point before, during, or even at the end of the car accident lawsuit process.
If all parties cannot agree to a fair settlement before trial, the case will proceed to court. Auto accident lawsuits can take a few months or several years to finish, depending on the length of each step in the process. A majority of car accident lawsuits that go to trial take at least one year to complete.
Due to settlement options and a variety of other factors, the litigation process for car accidents will differ from case to case. In general, there are five stages: complaint, response, discovery, trial, and, potentially, an appeal.
The first part of the car accident court process is to file a complaint, officially starting litigation.
After the complaint is filed, it must be sent to the defendant. It could take several days, weeks, or months to track down the defendant.
Next, the defendant responds to the complaint. Courts have a requirement for when an answer to the complaint must be received, usually about one month.
The discovery stage is when evidence is analyzed by both sides. Evidence in a car accident lawsuit can take many forms, such as photographs, witness statements, police reports, and medical records. Examining this evidence takes time. Discovery can last from a few months to more than a year.
Trial lengths can vary widely, consisting of jury selection, opening statements, presentations of evidence from both sides, closing arguments, and jury deliberation. It may take several days for a jury to reach a verdict, but a few hours is more common.
If either party is unsatisfied with the result of the trial, an appeal is possible. There are several levels of appeals, each having the possibility of adding months or years to the car accident lawsuit process.
Indiana has a set of laws called the statute of limitations that dictate when you can take legal action after an accident. These deadlines are different based on the type of claim you are filing. For personal injury cases such as car accidents, the Indiana deadline for filing a claim is generally two years from the date of the accident; however, there are many exceptions to the rule.
Some of the exceptions can actually shorten the time you have to file a claim, such as if your accident involved a government vehicle. Other exceptions can lengthen the time to file, such as when a child is injured. However, the deadline is generally strict, so it’s important to act quickly to find qualified legal representation after a car accident.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, contact the Indianapolis Car Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you and your family fight for the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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