Unfortunately, this question has no reliable answer to this question. The best answer that we can give — and we don’t mean to be glib — is, “As long as it takes.” Any lawyer that attempts to place a finite time limit on a case is selling a false bill of goods, and should be dealt with with some skepticism.
There are a huge number of factors that effect the length of a personal injury case. For example, the severity of the injuries involved, and the depth of the medical treatment necessary to treat those injuries, effect the length of a personal injury case. Only under very rare circumstances should a personal injury case be settled before the injury victim has reached maximum medical improvement following treatment by a physician.
Additionally, the insurance company involved in the case may effect the length of a personal injury claim. Some insurance companies are very quick and efficient at handling claims, and work hard to make reasonable settlement offers in order to bring claims to a close. Other insurance companies are difficult to work with, very rarely make reasonable settlement offers, and often force cases into costly and time-consuming litigation. Unfortunately, accident victims have little control over this process, which can be very, very frustrating.
The facts and circumstances of an accident can also have an effect on the length of the case. If the facts of a case are complex, or if the case has many witnesses that need to be interviewed, deposed, or found, this can add months (or years) to the length of a case.
A personal injury client would be best served being patient with the process. He or she should remember that most personal injury lawyers receive no fees until a recovery is made. This means that the lawyer generally has great incentive to push cases through to their conclusion.