How Long Does a NJ Car Accident Lawsuit Take?
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Car accidents are an all too frequent occurrence in the state of New Jersey with 2020 seeing a five percent increase in traffic fatalities, despite a drop in traffic due to restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, the most recent year with data available as of this writing, there were a total of 276,861 accidents in the state, and numbers are expected to be higher for 2020.
If you were involved in a car accident in New Jersey, you may hesitate before filing a lawsuit, wondering just how long you will be entangled in a legal process before settling and receiving the compensation you need to take care of your medical bills. This article takes a look at just how long a typical lawsuit in New Jersey takes to settle, and can help you prepare for the car accident claim process.
What Is the Car Accident Claims Process in New Jersey?
Of course, every car accident lawsuit is unique, but a typical litigation process in New Jersey usually follows the following path:
- Initial Filing: Your lawsuit will begin when you file a formal complaint with the court. This step usually takes a few days, up to a few weeks to prepare.
- Service Of Process: After you file your complaint with the court, you will then serve a copy of this complaint to the defendant. This usually takes a few weeks, unless the defendant avoids attempts to be served.
- Response: Once the defendant is served, they must file their own response with the court. This typically must occur within a month of the defendant being served.
- Discovery: After the defendants response, the discovery phase of litigation begins. During discovery, both the victim and the defendant request and exchange documents, photographs, and any other evidence that might be used at trial. This process usually takes somewhere between 6 months and a year to complete.
- Trial: Once discovery is complete, a trial date is set, typically within a few weeks. Courtroom proceedings usually last a few days at most.
- Appeal: If either party disagrees with the outcome of the trial, they may file an appeal. By filing an appeal, the ultimate outcome of the trial may be delayed by several years.
Of course, either party can agree to settle the lawsuit at almost any time during the claims process. Settlement offers can be made and agreed to within a few days of the accident occurring, or even the day before a trial is set to take place.
What Factors Could Delay a Car Accident Settlement in New Jersey?
While reaching a settlement that both parties agree to is obviously the preferred outcome, settlements can often be delayed by a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:
- The complexity of the case: When a case involves multiple liable parties or contradictory evidence, these complexities can cause a settlement to be delayed.
- Paperwork errors: Filing a car accident claim in New Jersey involves a lot of paperwork, and if anything is filled out incorrectly, it can cause significant delays.
- Uncooperative parties: Insurance companies are in the business of paying out as little as possible to accident victims, and instead are looking out for their own bottom line. If the insurance company doesn’t want to pay out the compensation that a victim rightfully deserves, it can greatly delay reaching a settlement.
- Extent of injuries: If the injuries a victim sustains are severe, or cause long lasting or permanent disabilities, it may take doctors and medical experts a long time to confidently state the severity of the injury.
Do I Need a New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer for My Claim?
A New Jersey car accident lawyer can make sure all of your paperwork is filed properly, ensuring that the claims process runs as smoothly as possible. In addition, retaining an experienced car accident lawyer will let the insurance companies know you mean business, and can help ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
If you have questions about the timeline of your car accident claim in New Jersey, call the experienced team at Richard Hollawell today. We can be reached at 1-800-681-3550 or by filling out the contact form on our website. Your initial consultation with us is always free.