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How Long Will My Personal Injury Trial Take?

Mediation may be the right choice for your claim

When Nebraska attorney Stephen Gealy represents plaintiffs in a trial, he always tells them the trial process is going to take longer than they think it should. “It almost always does,” he says.

To start, you’ll have to exchange discoveries, in which you request information from the other party, with the defendant and his or her defense lawyer. “Once those initial discovery requests have been responded to, you’re typically 60 to 90 days down the road from the date on which the plaintiff’s complaint was initially filed,” says Gealy. Next, you’ll have to wait for the defense attorney to obtain information from your medical care providers. This process will take another 30 to 60 days, depending on how extensive the medical history is.

“Say you file a personal injury case in June 2018, for example,” says Gealy. “It would be pretty rare for that case to actually go to trial in less than a year and a half.”

The trial procedures may consist of opening statements, cross-examinations, closing arguments, and jury instructions, among other things. After your trial date (court date), of course, the jury comes back with a decision. Gealy says it’s pretty rare that a jury trial ends up with a resolution that makes both sides happy.

“So the disgruntled party appeals,” he continues. From there, the court of appeals can either side with whatever the original jury sided with, or they can reverse the decision, meaning you could end up sitting through another court appearance.

“You’re now two years down the road after the trial,” Gealy says, “and the appellate court tells you to go back to the district court and have another trial. Then, it takes you another six months to a year to get the case back up and set for trial again.”

One other possible turn your trial could take is a decision to the state Supreme Court. After trial at the appeals level, you can petition for the Nebraska Supreme Court to make a ruling on the appeals court’s ruling.

“If they deny, then the ruling of the court of appeals stands. Or the Supreme Court can accept … so you tack even more time on to this process before you have a final decision,” Gealy says.

“You can certainly put together a scenario where it will take a number of years to get a final decision out of the court system,” he continues. “With mediation, in a single day, the vast majority of these cases reach some kind of resolution; in my experience, somewhere in excess of 90 percent of cases that are mediated settle without trial.”

Gealy further notes that a mediator in Nebraska generally charges between $250 and $400 per hour. “If you’re looking at a mediator who charges $300 per hour, you’d be looking at a range of $2,700 to maybe $4,000 for the entire mediation,” he says. “And when you compare that with what it costs to take a case to trial, it just pales in comparison.”

If you’ve been injured or hurt in an accident in Nebraska, consider reaching out to a reputable and experienced mediator or trial attorney for legal advice.. He or she may be able to get your case resolved in a quicker, more productive fashion than by going to trial court.

For more information on this area of the law, see our overview on personal injury law

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