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“What Is Taking So Long?”

Being a personal injury attorney in Suffolk and Nassau County, Long Island for over 20 years very often do I get asked…

“Why is my personal injury case taking so long to be resolved?”

I wish I had a simple cookie cutter answer, but there isn’t one. Every case is different and some many things factor in that extend or speed up the process. There are many reasons why some cases are resolved quickly, while others drag on for years.

Some of the reasons are literally hidden from you. Tricks by insurance companies or defendants to make you settle for less is nothing new – and we feel you deserve to know them.

A Case isn’t settled until the person recovers from their injury

All medical documentation should be considered before being resolved. So if the person is still receiving treatment, the case will not yet be settled. This is important because pain and suffering and mental anguish are contributing factors for money that a person is entitled to receive for their personal injury, and waiting until treatment is completed means the best accurate compensation.

Settling a case before someone is physically better can be risky because healing from an injury is unpredictable. Sometimes there are setbacks, complications or even unexpected surgery. If a case settles, all the pains, physical and emotional, from the injury are documented. And likely, the plaintiff will end up being short-changed as respects to the amount of money they actually need for all of the pain, suffering and mental anguish.

If there is no full recovery, a case won’t be settled until maximum recovery is reached

Unfortunately, some injuries will never recover completely. But this doesn’t mean the case will never end. In these instances, it’s important that the person reaches maximum medical recovery before the case is settled. Often times an expert is needed to determine the extent of pain and suffering in the future as well as the costs of the medical treatment that goes along with it. They may also determine future lost wages when the personal injury is permanent.

It’s always a good idea for the victim’s lawyer to use the time wisely by building the case. This is where accident investigation, gathering of witness statements and consultation with experts should coincide with the recovery of the injured party. Capitalizing on this time will reduce delays and speed up the process of the case.

The defendant needs to be a part of the case resolution

The defense also plays a key role in the resolution of any case, and this is another reason why a case might be delayed. The defendant might be unwilling to discuss a settlement, and this can cause a serious delay in resolution. This can happen for two reasons:

  1. Genuine Dispute in the Case – In the case of a car accident for example, they might claim that the accident, and in turn the injury, was not their fault and the injured party was responsible.
  2. Using the legal process to cause delays – This is the case when there is not a legitimate defense. For example, if there was a significant injury and the insurance company involved knows the settlement is going to be large, they will often delay the resolution of the case with needless litigation hoping the injured party will have no choice but to settle the case quickly for less. And sometimes in those cases, that injured party can’t work and is under great financial pressure, and they might need to settle to avoid financial ruin.

Protracted Litigation

When the insurance company is delaying settlement, this often results in “protracted litigation”. Protracted litigation is when a case has to now make its way through the court system, possibly all the way to a trial date. As you may have guessed, this is both costly and time consuming. However, having a skilled personal injury attorney can reduce that delay time using aggressive litigation tactics such as a motion for proactive order and/or a motion for a summary judgement, halting endless discovery demands from defense counsel.

There are however, multiple stages during litigation that have to happen before the case can be tried.

  1. Initiated with summons and complaint – this can take several weeks even up to several months.
  2. “Discovery” must occur – This is the exchange of information between the parties regarding the case. It is required for every personal injury case. It includes providing a physical examination of the plaintiff, medical records and performing depositions. Discovery is also lengthy in time and often takes a few months. In complex situations where there are complicated law issues or multiple defendants discovery can take years to complete.


Now, that protracted litigation is completed, the case is scheduled for a trial. Once again, this is a time consuming process and it can take several months for the trial to begin since the court system is typically backed up with cases. Scheduling a trial date is especially tricky when there’s many witnesses that need to be coordinated.

For the trial itself, it’s best if possible that the plaintiff allow the case to run it’s course without any time constraints or pressure. The attorney wants to get the most amount of money for it’s clients in the least possible amount of time. The optimal result however, can be effectively achieved with patience of the client.

As someone who has been representing clients for 20 years, my focus is to take the stress out of the equation for the injured parties. At Palermo Law, we deal with all of the unnecessary legal paperwork and insurance forms so that our clients can focus on their recovery and get their compensation as fast possible.