How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take To Settle In Lafayette, LA?

If you’ve been in a car accident and have retained a personal injury attorney, you might wonder what happens next.

Many injured people struggle with medical costs, lost wages, and more, especially if their injuries are catastrophic and life-altering.

Most personal injury claims from car accidents settle before reaching trial. However, the timeline of that settlement can vary dramatically. 

What Does It Mean if a Case Settles?

What Does It Mean if a Case Settles?

If a case “settles,” it means that it’s resolved before it reaches the courtroom. Settlement is the most common outcome for personal injury claims — about 95% of all civil lawsuits are settled before the trial stage.

In a settlement, your legal representatives and the opposing party’s representatives agree on a sum of money to be paid to you. In return, you release the responsible party from further liability. That means you won’t pursue them for further damages.

Lawsuits can take an extremely long time. In most cases, both sides would prefer to avoid a trial. Understandably, car accident victims also tend to want their settlement money as quickly as possible.

How Long Do Car Accident Cases Take?

Some car accident claims can be settled within a few months. Other claims may last for years before settling.

This timeline depends largely on when the case settles. Car accident claims are often settled during the insurance claims process. 

Car accident claims often proceed like this:

  • You file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company (or your lawyer files it on your behalf)
  • The insurance company offers you a certain sum of money
  • Your lawyer negotiates with the insurance company’s lawyers 
  • If both sides agree, the case is settled, and you receive the money

What if both sides can’t agree? In this situation, your case may progress to a lawsuit. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will go to trial. A case can be settled at any point before the trial starts. 

Often, these cases settle after the discovery phase but before the trial phase. In the discovery phase, both sides gather and exchange evidence for the trial. As you might imagine, this can be a long process — usually lasting anywhere from a few months to over a year.

Understanding the Timeline of a Car Accident Lawsuit

Some car accident claims are resolved without filing a lawsuit. However, filing a suit shows the opposing party that you’re serious about recovering compensation. Thus, some attorneys choose to file a lawsuit during the claims process.

Here’s a look at the steps involved in filing a car accident lawsuit. Remember that a case can be resolved at any point during this process.

Filing and Serving a Complaint

The first step in initiating a lawsuit involves filing a complaint with the court. The complaint alleges that the defendant was negligent (and that negligence caused your injury). You also must serve a copy of the complaint to the defendant.

It can take some time for the defendant (the responsible party) to file an answer to the initial complaint. In Louisiana, defendants have 21 days after they receive the complaint to file an answer. In the answer, the defendant has an opportunity to list out any counterclaims against you.


Once you have filed a complaint and the defendant has filed an answer, the lawsuit proceeds to the discovery phase. This is when your attorney and the attorney for the opposing side start to gather evidence for use in the trial. 

The following are types of evidence often used in car accident cases:

  • Photos of the crash scene
  • Copies of the police report 
  • Testimony from witnesses and first responders
  • Photos of bodily injuries sustained after the accident
  • Medical bills and testimony from healthcare providers
  • Other supporting evidence (for example, social media posts from the defendant claiming responsibility for the crash)

During the discovery process, both sides have an opportunity to fully understand each other’s arguments. As a result, many cases will be settled at this stage.

For example, a defendant’s legal team may be unaware of some evidence against their client. If the legal team sees that your lawyer has built a strong case, they might prefer to settle instead of risking a trial.


Not many personal injury lawsuits go to trial. Both sides present their evidence to a judge or jury during the trial stage. This is what’s known as a “civil trial.” The court isn’t trying to determine whether the defendant is responsible for a crime. Instead, it’s trying to determine whether the defendant’s negligence caused your injury and warrants compensation. 

If the court determines that the defendant was responsible for your injury, it will order the defendant to pay you a certain amount of damages.


Not all car accident trials end in appeals. However, just like after a criminal trial, the defendant in a civil trial may appeal if they’re unhappy with the result. Appeals can drag on for months and even years. During the appeals process, the defendant can avoid paying the court-ordered amount.

Lawsuits can be settled during this stage, too. Sometimes, a defendant may tell you they will file an appeal if you don’t agree to accept a lower amount. Many injured people take this option as medical bills and living expenses accumulate.  

Contact a Lafayette Car Accident Lawyer for Help with a Settlement

A car accident is a terrifying ordeal. But if you’ve suffered an injury as the result of an accident, you know that the initial crash is just the beginning of a particularly trying time. It can feel impossible to get out from under medical bills, lost wages from being unable to work, and more.

Fortunately, there’s hope. When you choose Kenny Habetz Injury Law, you’ll be matched with an attorney who will fight tirelessly to recover the compensation you deserve. Money can’t take away the trauma of a car accident injury, but it can make it easier for you to get your life back. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation! You can call us at (337) 399-9000.