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How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take in California

Personal Injury Lawsuit

From Start to Finish: How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take in California

Ever wondered how long does a personal injury lawsuit takes in California? This query resonates deeply with many who find themselves embroiled in such legal battles. In the Golden State, the duration of a personal injury lawsuit hinges on multiple factors. 


Simply put, personal injury law deals with legal disputes that arise when one person suffers harm from an accident or injury, and another might be legally responsible for that harm. These cases can involve intricate negotiations or, at times, lengthy trials. 

Quick Summary

  • Personal injury cases in California can vary in duration, ranging from a few months to several years.
  • Factors affecting case duration include insurance company decisions and the nature of the case.
  • Delays can occur due to strategic actions by insurers, lawyer involvement, severity of injuries, higher compensation claims, multiple defendants, contested liability, and legal challenges.
  • Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can help recover losses, pay medical bills, seek justice, and ensure responsible parties are held accountable.
  • The process of a California personal injury claim involves pre-litigation, treatment completion, demand letter, negotiation, litigation, and post-trial appeals.
  • The litigation phase can last approximately two years, including steps like complaint, discovery, trial, and appeals.
  • Settlement duration varies but averages 2 weeks to 5 months, depending on agreements and trials.
  • Delays in settlements can result from incomplete documentation, uncertainty about liability, disputes over compensation, legal hurdles, and insurer tactics.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take in California?

How long it takes to settle a personal injury case can differ greatly, influenced by various elements. In California, this process could be as quick as a few months or extend over several years. The timeline of your case hinges on numerous factors. 

Some of these are under your and your lawyer’s influence, while others are predominantly governed by the insurance company’s decisions.

What Are the Factors That Could Delay My Personal Injury Case?

Several elements may influence the duration of your personal injury case, and these can differ with each situation. Keep in mind that your lawyer will strive to minimize any hold-ups during the procedure. Key factors that play a role include:

Strategic Delays by Insurers

Insurance firms often extend the time before settling injury claims. Each day they delay compensation for your injuries means another day they keep your funds without incurring interest. Your lawyer can employ strategies to counter these delaying maneuvers by the insurance companies.

Unnecessary Delays

Victims can actively progress their personal injury cases, though not all lawyers are equally proactive. It’s crucial to choose a lawyer dedicated to preventing your case from being neglected.

Severe Injuries

When dealing with serious injuries, be prepared for a longer legal process. This holds particularly true for cases needing extended care. Settlements typically await the point of full recovery.

Higher-Value Claims

Higher compensation claims usually require more time to settle. While insurance companies tend to expedite smaller injury claims, they often proceed more cautiously with larger ones.

Involvement of Multiple Defendants

As the number of defendants in a case increases, so does the complexity of the legal process. With several parties involved, both the discovery phase and overall litigation tend to extend over a longer period.

Contested Liability

When a defendant disputes their responsibility for your injuries, it often leads to a trial. Cases that go to trial typically take much more time to resolve compared to the usual personal injury settlements.

Why Should I Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you’re dealing with a severe injury that wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t endure it quietly. You also shouldn’t be burdened by mounting medical bills. Someone should step up to take responsibility for your situation and start making amends.

A personal injury lawsuit can assist you in recovering your losses, handling medical costs, and aiding your recovery. It can also seek justice for your case and ensure the responsible party faces appropriate consequences. However, it’s important to note that these processes do take time to reach completion.

What is the Process Involved in a California Personal Injury Claim?

Below is the process involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit in California.

Pre-Litigation Phase

The initial phase of a personal injury case, known as pre-litigation, encompasses all actions preceding formal litigation. This phase commonly spans about six to eight months. In some instances, cases are settled out of court during this period, avoiding the need for a trial. 

However, when cases involve severe injuries and disagreements over responsibility, they usually proceed to the formal litigation process, resulting in longer durations. The pre-litigation phase involves the following key steps:

Intake and Investigation

In the initial phase of a California personal injury claim, your attorney conducts intake and investigation, gathering crucial details to assess the claim’s viability. This determines the appropriate course for legal action by examining evidence like witness statements, photographs, and medical records.

Completion of Treatment

After the intake and investigation, the next step is finishing medical treatment to ensure full recovery and understand the extent of injuries. Waiting until this point to assess expenses and the impact on your life contributes to a more accurate evaluation of damages during negotiations or potential litigation. 

Retrieving Records and Sending a Demand Letter

Using the medical information, your lawyer collects bills and reports to support your claim, then creates a demand letter outlining your case, sought damages, and legal reasons, initiating negotiations.


Following the demand letter, your attorney negotiates with the other party to settle without formal litigation, using skills to secure fair compensation, potentially leading to a quicker resolution and sparing you the stress of a prolonged legal battle.

Litigation Phase

Typically, the litigation stage of a personal injury case spans approximately two years, making it the lengthiest phase. It commences with the crucial steps of preparing and filing the complaint. Within the litigation phase, several key steps are undertaken, including:

Complaint and Response

The litigation phase of a California personal injury claim begins with the filing of the complaint. This document outlines the plaintiff’s allegations, detailing the injuries suffered, the responsible party, and the legal basis for the claim. Once the complaint is filed, the defendant is served with a summons, prompting them to respond to the allegations.

The defendant’s response, typically referred to as an answer, addresses the plaintiff’s claims. It may admit, deny, or partially admit to the allegations, setting the stage for a legal dispute. This initial exchange between the parties lays the groundwork for the litigation to come, defining the issues in contention. 


The discovery process serves as a means for each party involved in a lawsuit to obtain evidence held by the opposing party or, in some cases, a third party. One significant benefit of this process is the oversight it receives from the court. When the opposing party resists providing requested evidence, you have the option to petition the court for an order compelling them to do so. 

Failure to adhere to such a court order can result in being held in contempt of court. Below are some of the key tools employed during the discovery process.


In a deposition, you can question a witness outside the courtroom, with the recorded exchange serving a crucial role. Any conflicting information can be used in trial to challenge the witness’s credibility, and deliberately lying may lead to perjury charges with potential imprisonment.


Interrogatories consist of written questions that one party submits to the opposing side. Similar to a deposition, it’s important to recognize that intentionally lying about a significant matter in response to these questions constitutes perjury. 

This includes situations where a person falsely claims not to know something when they possess that knowledge. Honesty and accuracy in responding to interrogatories are crucial to maintaining the integrity of the legal process.

Requests for Evidence

You have the option to ask the opposing party for permission to examine documents, real estate, or any physical objects they have in their possession. For instance, in a truck accident scenario, you could request to access the data stored in the truck’s “black box,” also known as the event data recorder. 

This data is essential for reconstructing the details of the accident, helping to establish what transpired during the incident.

Requests for Admissions

A request for admission asks the other party to confirm certain facts, like admitting a recorded voice belongs to the defendant, simplifying the legal process by streamlining agreed-upon facts and directing the trial to focus on disputed matters.


The culmination of the litigation phase in a California personal injury claim is the trial. This is the stage where both parties present their cases before a judge or jury. It’s a formal and structured process that allows each side to call witnesses, introduce evidence, and make arguments to support their positions.

A judge or jury carefully considers the evidence, listens to witness testimonies, and deliberates to reach a verdict. The trial can be a pivotal moment in the personal injury claim, as it determines whether the plaintiff will receive compensation and, if so, the amount awarded. 

While trials can be lengthy and complex, they are a fundamental part of the legal process for resolving personal injury cases in California.

Post-Trial Appeals

In case either you or the defendant suspects that harmful mistakes took place during the trial, there is an option to file an appeal to a higher court. The post-trial appeals procedure can extend from several months to a couple of years. Should the trial court’s ruling be overturned on appeal, it may necessitate a fresh trial to reevaluate the case. 

This additional legal step adds to the overall duration of the process and introduces the possibility of a different outcome.

How Long Does It Take for My Personal Injury Claim Settlement to Be Paid Out?

The duration for receiving a personal injury settlement can differ from case to case. While an average settlement typically falls within the range of two weeks to five months, the timeline can significantly vary. If both parties swiftly agree on a settlement, it might only take as little as six weeks for processing.

However, if the case proceeds to trial, reaching a final decision on the settlement could extend over several months. Additionally, the possibility of an appeal being filed could introduce further delays. Ultimately, the timeframe for obtaining a personal injury settlement hinges on the unique circumstances of each case.

What Can Cause Delays in My Personal Injury Claim Settlement?

Numerous elements influence the time required for a personal injury case to be resolved. These factors encompass the extent of the injury, the procedures employed by the insurance company in settling claims, and the relevance of specific laws. Nevertheless, there are also typical factors that can lead to delays in the negotiation process.

Documentation Gaps

Before initiating settlement discussions, all the necessary documentation to support your claim must be both comprehensive and precise. Any omissions or inaccuracies in the documents can have the effect of causing delays in the process.

Uncertainty Regarding Liability

To establish responsibility for an injury, investigators need to ascertain the events and identify the party at fault. When there’s any doubt regarding liability, it can extend the time needed to reach a settlement agreement.

Discrepancies in Settlement Figures

Settlements frequently hinge on the extent of the injury and the potential damages involved. Disputes arising from differing opinions on the compensation deserved by the injured party can result in delays when it comes to reaching a settlement agreement. 

Dealing with insurance adjusters can also pose challenges, particularly when they aim to intentionally reduce the estimated settlement amount, which can further prolong the process.

Legal Hurdles

In certain cases, legal obstacles may arise, necessitating additional investigations or even court actions. Such occurrences have the potential to extend the duration of the settlement process.

Delays Caused by the At-Fault Party’s Insurer

Insurance companies might employ tactics to postpone settlement talks to diminish the compensation awarded to individuals. Sometimes, insurers are simultaneously managing multiple claims or have intentions of pursuing the settlement through legal channels. 

However, having a skilled personal injury attorney can be instrumental in preventing such delays and ensuring a fair resolution.

In personal injury cases, patience is key, and collaborating with professionals well-versed in claim resolutions is crucial. This partnership ensures you secure a just and prompt settlement for your injury.

Swift and Competent Legal Assistance for Every Victim in California

In the winding journey of how long does a personal injury lawsuit takes in California, having adept legal guidance can drastically change the game. Conlogue Law LLP stands as a beacon of experience, offering unparalleled legal services to navigate these often intricate waters. 

With a team of trusted personal injury lawyers, we pride ourselves on our ability to efficiently manage the timeline of a case, ensuring that each client receives prompt and effective representation. This approach not only expedites the legal process but also maximizes the potential for a favorable outcome.

For those entangled in the complexities of personal injury lawsuits, we offer a strong solution. With a deep understanding of California’s legal landscape and a commitment to client-centered service, our law firm is equipped to handle the most challenging cases with finesse. 

If swift, competent legal assistance is what you seek, reach out to Conlogue Law LLP. Let our legal team assist in navigating your personal injury lawsuit with skill and dedication, paving the way for a resolution that aligns with your best interests. 

Our law firm can also represent you in Pedestrian Accident, Longshore Claim, and Maritime Accident. Schedule a free consultation today and take a decisive step toward resolving your legal concerns.

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