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Is My Lawyer Taking Too Long to Complete My Personal Injury Case?

It is undeniable that we live in a society of instant gratification. Customers often choose fast food restaurants because the food is immediately available, and a drive-through line allows them to avoid going inside the building. One can similarly obtain an oil change without ever leaving the car and with a guarantee that it will take 10 minutes or less.

And technology has only exacerbated the situation. Smart phones allow us to order products and services online, at any time of the night or day. An Uber can be summoned at a moment’s notice, as long as it isn’t too far away.

But Americans seem to be growing more impatient by the day. One blog cites a study indicating that 96 percent of American people will intentionally consume extremely hot beverages and food, even though it will burn their mouths. Talk about taking impatience to the extreme! The same blog reports that the majority of Americans will hang up the telephone rather than wait a minute or more for someone to answer.

In some contexts, patience is still a virtue. One of them can be when you are trying to maximize a personal injury settlement. Unfortunately, though, there are times when an attorney can take too long to complete a case. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between the two situations.

Legitimate Reasons that Personal Injury Litigation May Take Substantial Time

There are many factors that affect litigation, and each case is different. However, there can be some common themes that occur. Below we will discuss several legitimate causes of delay in a personal injury case.

1. Complexity

Some cases are much more complex than others. For example, a medical malpractice case may require multiple expert witnesses. A complicated car or truck accident case may require accident reconstruction specialists and other experts.

Cases can also be made more complex if difficult legal principles or issues are involved. An example would be insurance coverage questions that have to be litigated when many insurance policies are involved. These complexities can cause preparation of the case to take longer. By the same token, a simple case without complexities should be resolved more quickly.

2. Plaintiff’s Medical Status

An important part of a plaintiff’s damages are medical expenses, both past and future. Additionally, a plaintiff’s recoverable damages can include permanent injuries. An injured person can also recover damages based on a future inability to work.

However, it is often difficult to assess a plaintiff’s permanent condition until sufficient time has passed to properly assess his or her medical condition and prognosis. Therefore, there are times when a plaintiff’s attorney believes that delay will allow a full understanding of these damages and maximize recovery.

3. Discovery

The legal system understands that discovery, or the process of fact-gathering, is an important part of the dispute resolution process. Thus, some delay is built into the system.

4. Court Backlogs

Even when the parties are ready to go to court, there may be delays due to backlogs. Some courts deal with this problem routinely, but the situation was greatly exacerbated during the pandemic. Due to an inability to hold trials during the lockdowns, courts had a lot of cases to work through the system when things opened back up.

Inappropriate Reasons Causing Delay in Personal Injury Cases

Unfortunately, there can also be inappropriate causes for delay in resolving a personal injury case. A couple are highlighted below.

1. Fear of the courtroom

You may think that all lawyers are trained and experienced in the courtroom. Not only is that inaccurate, but there are many attorneys who are not comfortable in the courtroom and will do almost everything in their power to avoid trial. Cases can really lag for litigants who are represented by one of these lawyers.

2. Lack of Specialization in Personal Injury Cases

All types of law require specialized knowledge. Thus, you would not commonly see a bankruptcy lawyer trying a murder case. But some lawyers who do not specialize in personal injury law will attempt to represent a personal injury client, probably hoping that it will be lucrative and result in a settlement. The problem is that the case may stall, and the attorney may not know how to complete it.

Call with Questions

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person, you likely have questions about your rights. Please contact us for a free consultation so we can answer them all. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, our experienced personal injury lawyers specialize in handling injury cases all across Oregon. We settle cases when we can, but only if we can obtain the settlement our client deserves. We are experienced trial lawyers and are always prepared to push a case to trial if a timely settlement is not possible. We believe that we must do whatever is required to hold negligent wrongdoers accountable for their actions. After all, that is the only way to make society safer for all of us.