Unfortunately, lawsuits can take years to resolve. The good news is that most of the time, a car wreck insurance claim can be resolved without having to file a lawsuit. But sometimes, lawsuits are unavoidable, like when the insurance company won’t accept responsibility for a wreck, is being unreasonable, or when our client’s injuries are so severe that they are still treating when Louisiana’s one-year prescriptive period (aka “statute of limitations”) comes around.
Lawsuit delays can be very frustrating for an injury victim, especially if an accident has caused them to lose their job or fall behind on their bills. At Flattmann Law, we try to ease this frustration by letting our clients know what is happening in their case every step of the way. Even if there are delays in their lawsuit, at least they can understand the process and the steps we are taking to move things along as fast as possible.
Insurance Companies Don’t Mind Delays. They Want To keep Their Money:
There is an old saying: “He who has the most money wins.” Insurance companies have a lot of money, and they know that injury victims typically do not. Insurance companies bet on the fact that, as time goes by, an injury victim’s bills pile up, and they become more and more desperate to settle their case. As far as insurance companies are concerned, the longer the process takes, the longer they hold on to their money, and the less they may have to pay to the victim.
Waiting For Jury Trials:
In Louisiana State Courts, jury trials (as opposed to Judge-tried trials) are usually requested in civil cases, like car wrecks, especially by insurance companies. The law changed several years ago in Louisiana to decrease the jury threshold, meaning the amount that must be at issue in order to request a jury trial. It used to be that the amount at issue had to be $50,000 or more to request a trial by jury. Due to tort reform, that amount decreased to $10,000. This opened the door for many more civil cases being eligible for jury trials, which are almost always requested by the insurance companies.
The increase in jury trial requests in civil cases places a tremendous burden on the Louisiana court system. To make matters worse, criminal jury trial typically take priority over civil trials, meaning that even the most serious personal injury case may take years to finally have its day in court.
Procedural Delays, Scheduling Challenges, And Court Calendars:
Once a lawsuit is filed, the procedural and legal delays begin. Initially, the Sheriff must serve the defendants with the lawsuit and a “citation” demanding that they formally answer the lawsuit. This process usually takes a few months, between tracking down and serving defendants and waiting for them to answer the lawsuit.
The next major part of the case is discovery, which includes written questions and requests for documents between the parties, depositions, gathering medical records, etc. Have you ever tried coordinating a date for a bunch of people to get together for dinner? It’s hard, right? That’s kind of like the process for coordinating depositions. Not only must the deponent be available, but all of the attorneys for all of the parties must also be available. Coordinating the depositions of doctors is even more challenging.
Delays can take place even after discovery is complete and the case is ready for trial. That’s because things come up that can delay (or “continue”) trial such as a key witness not being available or a party getting sick. Sometimes, the Court itself may postpone a trial because another case is running long. This can be extremely frustrating after preparing so much.
Steps We Take To Move Things Along As Fast As Possible:
At Flatmann Law, sitting still is not in our DNA. We understand that lawsuits can be a lengthy and frustrating process for our clients. That’s why we do everything in our power to move cases along and why we take time to update our clients every step of the way.
Before filing a lawsuit, we give a great deal of consideration to where we will file the lawsuit (the venue). Sometimes, depending on factors such as where the accident occurred and where the parties are from, we may have the option of filing a lawsuit in Federal, rather than State Court. Depending on the case, there are advantages and disadvantages to both State and Federal Court. One possible advantage of filing in Federal Court is that a case may move a little quicker due in part to stricter scheduling orders and rules of civil procedure. If we think a case will benefit by being filed in Federal Court, we will consider that option.
In State Court, early in a lawsuit, we typically file a motion with the Court for a scheduling conference so that we can get a place in line on the Court’s calendar, including a trial date. A scheduling order also provides the parties with pre-trial deadlines, such as when to complete discovery, exchange expert reports, etc.
When it is time to conduct discovery, we get our questions and requests to the other parties and respond to discovery directed to our clients as soon as possible. The other side, including the insurance company, should know enough about our client’s injuries and damages in order to enter into good faith settlement discussions, if they so choose. We make sure that at any time during the course of a lawsuit, the ball is in the insurance company’s court if they are seeking an amicable resolution.
Have You Been Seriously Injuried And Need A Personal Injury Attorney To Help Move Your Case Along?
If you have been seriously injured and are wondering how long your case will take to get to Court, contact us online or call our Covington office directly at 985.590.6182 to schedule your free consultation today. Flattmann Law serves clients on the Northshore, including Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Bogalusa, Franklinton, Folsom, Madisonville, Goodbee, Hammond, Lacombe, Pearl River, and Slidell.