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Understanding the Factors that Affect the Length of a Car Accident Lawsuit: An Overview

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A car accident can be frightening and traumatic. The emotional toll resulting from it should not be underestimated, nor should the physical impact on your body.

This is especially true if you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. However, when it comes to getting justice after a car accident, many factors at play can affect how quickly you receive compensation for your injuries or loss.

Here’s an overview of some common factors that affect the length of a car accident lawsuit.

The Severity of the Accident

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around the world, car accidents claim the lives of 1.35 million people every year, with nearly 3,700 fatalities occurring daily. Tragically, more lives are lost to traffic accidents than to HIV/AIDS. Fatal and non-fatal injuries from crashes are expected to cost $1.8 trillion to the world economy from 2015-2030, which is equivalent to an annual tax of 0.12% on global GDP.

The severity of a car accident is a significant factor that can impact the length of a lawsuit. If the accident results in significant injuries or fatalities, it can take longer to gather and evaluate evidence, interview witnesses, and negotiate a settlement. This is because the stakes are higher in cases involving severe injuries or deaths, and both parties may be more reluctant to settle.

For example, as reported in RiverFront Times (RFT), a 34-year-old man was recently sentenced to life plus 17 years in the St. Louis Circuit Court in April 2022 for causing a fatal car accident in 2020.

On July 2020, Deandre Carter was driving a stolen SUV at high speed on Page Boulevard when he passed another car on the shoulder and collided with it. He then veered into oncoming traffic, resulting in the death of one woman and injuries to another. The legal proceedings, in this case, took almost three years to conclude. The judge even dismissed an earlier deal that Carter had worked out previously.

The Complexity of the Case

The more complicated your case, the longer it will take to resolve. This is because more elements need to be addressed for you to get compensation for your injuries.

For example, if you were driving a car that was hit by another vehicle and suffered damages as a result, but there were also other people involved (such as passengers in either vehicle), then this would require an investigation into their injuries as well. And these investigations can often take months or even years before any resolution is reached.

In addition to this complexity, if additional parties were involved, they may have their legal representation and thus add another layer of complexity to the proceedings themselves.

Attorney and Client Communication

Attorneys need to be available to answer clients’ questions and keep them up-to-date on the progress of their cases. Communication is key in any legal situation, but it’s especially important in personal injury cases because you need an attorney who understands your needs and goals as well as those of any other parties involved in the lawsuit.

To ensure efficient and timely communication between the client and the attorney, it is recommended to engage the services of a local law firm. As seen in the St. Louis car accident case we discussed earlier, hiring a St. Louis car accident lawyer can offer several benefits.

Local attorneys are familiar with the local laws, court system, and legal procedures, which can expedite the lawsuit process. They may also better understand the local community and culture, which can aid in gathering evidence and witness statements. Additionally, local attorneys can offer more personalized attention to the case and may be more accessible to the client.

TorHoerman Law, LLC (THL), a law firm based in St. Louis, suggests that once you have addressed your injuries, you should first get in touch with an attorney specializing in auto accident cases to act on your behalf.

The law firm adds that selecting an attorney is a crucial step in the legal process. It is essential to seek out a lawyer who has:

  1. Extensive experience in litigating car accident cases.
  2. Adequate resources to present your case to the fullest extent possible.
  3. Sufficient time and motivation to represent you effectively.

Medical Treatment and Recovery

In a car accident lawsuit, the injured party’s medical treatment and recovery can significantly impact the length of the case. The more severe the injuries, the longer it may take to determine the full extent of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.

Ongoing medical treatment, such as physical therapy or surgery, can prolong the case’s duration, as it may be necessary to wait for the treatment to be completed before reaching a settlement or trial.

In some cases, it may be necessary to wait for the injured party to reach maximum medical improvement, which can also extend the length of the case.

Insurance Company Negotiations

Insurance company negotiations are a critical aspect of a car accident lawsuit. The length of the negotiations and the resulting settlement can vary greatly depending on the parties involved, the severity of the accident, and the damages claimed. Insurance companies will often try to minimize their liability, which can lead to prolonged negotiations or even the need for a trial.

Additionally, the process can become even more complicated and time-consuming if multiple insurance companies are involved, such as in a multi-vehicle accident.

Court Backlog

Court backlog refers to the situation where the number of cases that need to be heard by a court is greater than the court’s capacity to handle them promptly. This can lead to delays in scheduling hearings and trials, which can prolong the length of a car accident lawsuit.

The backlog can be affected by various factors, including the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and the availability of judges and court staff. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many courts to shift to virtual hearings, which may have further impacted the backlog.

Reuters reported that according to a report, the federal courts experienced a 44% slower median criminal case and 7% slower median civil case two years after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in March 2020. Although virtual hearings were allowed, jury trials were suspended at the pandemic’s outset due to the inability to conduct them online.

The widespread use of vaccines eliminated the incentive for parties to plead guilty or settle, which further contributed to the slow movement of cases. Therefore, there was a significant impact of the pandemic on the speed at which criminal and civil cases moved through the federal courts.

The court backlog is an external factor that can impact the length of a car accident lawsuit and is beyond the parties’ control.


In conclusion, the length of a car accident lawsuit can vary depending on several factors. The severity of the accident, the amount of time it takes for the injured party to receive medical treatment and recover from their injuries, negotiations with insurance companies, and court backlog can all contribute to the length of a lawsuit.

It is important for those involved in a car accident to have patience throughout the process and to work with experienced legal professionals who can help guide them through the process and work toward a fair and just resolution.

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