Why Do Lawsuits Take So Long?

For 2006 physician medical malpractice payments, the mean delay between an incident that led to a payment and the payment itself was 4.88 years, according to data from the National Practitioner Data Bank. 5 years is an awfully long time to wait for your case to be resolved, either by settlement or trial.

There are a number of factors that explain the duration of a lawsuit, but the two biggest reasons are: (1) the insurer of the defendant wants to drag out litigation as long as possible and wait until the last moment before they have to decide whether to settle the case; and (2) some counties have way too many cases relative to the number of judges and this results in long delays in getting the case scheduled for trial. You may ask the Court for a trial date and receive a date for the trial that is a year or more down the road.

There is one simple answer to this problem: file the lawsuit as soon as it is determined that the case has merit and make sure that the Court imposes deadlines for every step of the lawsuit, such as specific dates for depositions, defense medical examinations and the exchange of discovery responses. This will prevent the lawsuit from the inevitable delays presented by defense attorneys and their insurers and keep the case on the proverbial “fast track” to trial.

Keep this in mind: the defense will not settle your case until you get to trial. If you think the defense will want to settle as soon as your lawsuit is filed, or after the depositions have been completed, forget it! It is for this reason that you need to make sure that your lawyers keep your case on the fast track to trial and focus on representing you at the trial, not simply settling for whatever they can get.