How Long Will It Take My St. Petersburg Personal Injury Case To Settle?

How long does a personal injury lawsuit take? Settling a personal injury case can take weeks, or it can take years. There is no formula for how long it will take to settle any particular personal injury case. That depends on a great many factors. It is possible, however, to identify the factors that exert the greatest influence. That might allow you to “plug in” the facts of your case to reach a ballpark estimate of the time it might take you to reach a settlement.

It is worth noting that if you are filing a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim in response to a car accident where your damages do not exceed $10,000, your claim will proceed considerably more quickly than the process described below.

Phase 1: Wait Until You Reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

Phase 1: Wait Until You Reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is the point during your treatment when you have improved as much as you ever will. In other words, your doctor doesn’t expect you to get any better no matter what you do. 

In a best-case scenario, this means you recover fully. On the other hand, you might suffer permanent disability. You might even need continuing medical treatment, such as kidney dialysis. Reaching MMI typically takes a few weeks, although it could take longer.

Simultaneously: Prepare Your Personal Injury Claim

You can save time by spending the time you are spending waiting for MMI for a second purpose: investigating and gathering evidence for your claim. You will need to collect the following information and gather evidence for it:

  • The place, date, and time of the accident that injured you;
  • The exact sequence of the accident, to the extent that you are able to reconstruct it;
  • The names and contact details of any eyewitnesses;
  • A description of your injuries, 
  • The name of your healthcare provider; 
  • Details of your or the at-fault party’s liability insurance coverage; 
  • Proof of your lost earnings and other out-of-pocket expenses; and
  • A report from an expert witness if your case involves a complex claim such as medical malpractice or wrongful death.

Your evidence might include recorded interviews with eyewitnesses, photographs, a police report (if any was prepared), your medical records and bills, your insurance policy or the insurance policy of the at-fault party, documentation from your employer, and more. With occasional exceptions, your evidence needs to comply with the Florida Rules of Evidence.

This process typically takes a few weeks if you have a qualified St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer to help you.

Phase 2: The Negotiation Stage

Let your lawyer negotiate your claim for you. The other side will probably be an insurance company, and insurance adjusters are professional negotiators. If you have an attorney to represent you, you’ll even the playing field with the other side.

Once you hire a lawyer, they can contact the other side and tell them to direct all further communications to your lawyer. Any further direct contact with you then becomes harassment.

The entire negotiation stage could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The goal is generally to arrive at a settlement agreement that makes you whole again as best as possible – but your aims might be different. It’s really up to you – with legal guidance and help from your attorney – whether you wish to proceed to litigation.

Phase 3: The Litigation Stage

This is the stage where you take your claim to court. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve given up on eventual settlement, although you might want the other side to think you’ve given up. Taking your claim to court can accomplish at least three purposes:

  • It puts psychological pressure on the other side, especially after the judge sets a trial date.
  • It complies with the statute of limitations deadline to file a lawsuit. Once you file a lawsuit, you have permanently beaten the statute of limitations, no matter how long your lawsuit takes. 
  • It qualifies you to participate in the pretrial discovery process (see below).

The first step in the litigation process is to file the lawsuit.

Initiating a Lawsuit

Take the following steps to initiate a lawsuit.

  • Filing a formal complaint. The complaint is a powerful legal document that you must draft with precision. Ask your lawyer to draft it for you.
  • Paying the filing fee.
  • Arranging for a neutral third party to deliver a summons and a copy of the complaint to the defendant (known as “service of process”).

The defendant will need to file a formal answer to your complaint within 30 days to avoid a default judgment.

Filing Motions

A motion is a written request for the court to do something. That might mean a motion to dismiss the case, a motion to suppress evidence, or a motion to change the venue of the proceedings, among other possible motions. This happens during a window of a few weeks between the time you file the lawsuit and the trial date set by the judge.

Participating in the Pretrial Discovery Process

The pretrial discovery process is a great way for both sides to gather out-of-court, under-oath evidence that is in the possession of the other side. You may seek four major types of evidence:

  • Depositions: Testimony from hostile witnesses, elicited by out-of-court cross-examination.
  • Interrogatories: Written answers by one party in response to written questions from the other side.
  • Requests for production: A demand that the other side produces physical evidence for inspection or documents for copying. Even the human body constitutes “physical evidence” that can be inspected.
  • Requests for admissions. Every fact must be either proven or admitted. Each side tends to cooperate with the other to admit facts that the other side doesn’t want to prove. This helps limit the scope of the trial to the important issues in dispute.

If the other side refuses to cooperate, you can motion the court to compel them to do so. The discovery process usually takes a few months, but sometimes it takes up to a year. Nevertheless, in a best-case scenario, it can yield so much evidence that the opposing party will respond with an immediate and generous settlement offer in order to avoid trial.  

Phase 4: The Moment of Truth

Once you have filed a lawsuit, gathered all of the evidence that is available to you, submitted evidence in response to requests from the other side, and tried to negotiate a settlement, your case comes down to whether you will settle or go to trial. A brief description of both options follows. 

Final Settlement

Once the two sides agree on the terms of a settlement, you will need to draft a written settlement agreement that binds the other side to pay the agreed-upon settlement and binds you to abandon any further claims regarding the same accident. 

This should take a few days at most. Once both parties sign, it becomes a binding legal contract. If the defendant refuses to pay, you can sue them in court on a contract claim.


If you cannot settle your case, a trial might be your only option. Most trials only take one day (or less) to complete. 

At trial, you must select the jury through a competitive process, give opening statements, examine and cross-examine witnesses, present evidence, give closing statements, wait for the judge to give jury instructions, and wait for the jury’s verdict. If you don’t like the verdict, you have 30 days to appeal it. 

Let Your St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Handle Your Claim for You

If you try to settle your personal injury case, the party you negotiate with will probably be an insurance adjuster. This is not good news if you are representing yourself because insurance adjusters are professional negotiators. Luckily, so are personal injury lawyers. Contact Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers their skilled St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer might be able to multiply the amount of compensation you receive. Call us at (727) 349-1728 today to get a free consultation.