The answer is that it depends upon a lot of different factors. In general, in New York City:
From the date you file a lawsuit to the date you get a trial date, it’s between two and a half to three and a half years to the date you get a trial date. Sometimes it can go up to four or five years, but I would say an average is about three years.
Slip and Fall Lawsuit Timeline
As far as a timeline is concerned, within 60 to 90 days you hope to have all of the players that are going to be involved. Meaning you hope to have the insurance companies on line, and that they’ve told you about what kind of coverages exist, so that you know who you’re dealing with.
Within about six months of an accident happening, you’ve hopefully gathered all medical records to that point. So, within 90 days you have everybody who you need to be at the table, all the parties that you’re intending to bring claims against are present and accounted for. And then within six months you hope to have all the medical records, up to that point, gathered.
At that point, depending on certain factors, you may want to try to resolve the case. If the treatment is coming to an end, if there has been no ongoing treatment or ongoing care, and if that’s just the way that it’s going to be, then there should be efforts made to try to resolve a case.
From that point, six months to, let’s say a year, you’re trying to get a case resolved. And if you do realize within that timeframe, within that 6 to 12 month timeframe, that the case just isn’t going to be settled, then you can put the case into a lawsuit, and then you litigate.
I would say that this timeline is in play for a smaller case where the injuries are not exactly easily identified from the outset. So a lot of times you’ll have somebody with a soft tissue type injury or an injury that is in the soft tissues of the body, like a disc injury or a tear of the knee or the shoulder or something like that, and you just don’t know what the injury is until that person has received some treatment, has received some care.
So you’re three months in and you still don’t know exactly what the diagnosis is, but you know the person is still treating and having issues. That is where that first timeframe would be applicable.
A different kind of case may have a different timeline. Let’s say you have a trip and fall accident with a significant fracture and immediate surgery, assuming you can prove liability, that case is immediately into a lawsuit. You’re not going to wait that six months or eight months to gather records and see how things develop.
Once a case is put into a lawsuit then the first phase is the discovery phase. You serve a lawsuit, summons and complaint, and the defendant answers. Once you get all the defendant’s answers, let’s say you served two or three people, two or three entities, you sued them.
All three of them have to answer. And once that occurs, then you enter into this discovery phase, which is where both sides lay out their cases. “This is what I intend to prove. These are my injuries. This is why you’re responsible for them.” The defendant says, “No, no, no. I don’t believe your injuries. This is what my doctor says about them. This is why we’re not responsible for them.” And then you tell the court you’re ready to go to trial.
The discovery process usually lasts, depending upon the number of defendants, anywhere between a year and two years. And then when you tell the court you’re ready to go to trial, depending upon the county that you’re in, you basically get in line and wait.
You wait for a trial date. During that time, there’s always the possibility to negotiate a case and resolve a case. There’s always a possibility to go to a mediation, which is a way to resolve a case outside of court.
And then you get your trial date. So from the date you file a lawsuit to the date you get a trial date, and counties like let’s say Queens County or New York County or even Kings County, it’s between two and a half to three and a half years from the date you start a lawsuit to the date you get a trial date. Sometimes it can go up to four or five years, but I would say an average is about three years.
In a county like the Bronx, which is the most visited county for plaintiffs in our state at least, and probably the most overburdened courthouse in our state, the unfortunate truth is that cases take probably double that. So if you are looking for a case in the Bronx and you’re fully litigating it, you’re probably waiting for about six years before you can get the case out to trial, as crazy as that sounds.