How long does a car accident case take to finish?

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How long does a car accident case take to finish?

My husband was in a car wreck back in 09/09 (he was not at fault). He hired an attorney based on contingency in 12/09. The Attorney does not stay in contact – my husband has to e-mail him 2 or 3 times before he’ll get a response; if he calls he leaves a message and half the time will get no call back. It seems like my husband always has to initiate calls, e-mails, etc in order to find out where the case is. Also, the attorney promised to send documents that were supposedly sent out to the insurance company but we’ve never received them (the attorney said that he sent them out twice but my husband finally had to drive to his office to get them).  A settlement was offered in 12/10, at which point he declined and told the lawyer to file a lawsuit. It’s now April and the lawyer just now tells him that they are still looking for the person that hit him and that and that he has not even contacted the insurance company to see what they are going to do (ie hire an attorney for the at-fault party). On top of that, it was discovered that discovered that his lawyer has moved offices and did not even bother to let my husband know. The process seems to be taking too long. He has lost faith in this attorney and think that this case is not being taken seriously or is not a priority. Can my husband fire the attorney for “good cause”? Would he still be bound to the original payment agreement of 40%? Or would he just be responsible for attorney expenses? Or is my husband being impatient? How long should an accident case typically take to file? And how long should it take from beginning to end?

Asked on April 6, 2011 under Accident Law, Texas

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Since your husband rejected the settlement offer in Dec. 2010,  the case will now go through litigation which may take several months or possibly a year or more from the time the lawsuit is filed if it goes to trial.  It is possible that the case may settle prior to trial without going through all phases of litigation which will significantly reduce the time before it is resolved.

Without litigating the case, the amount of time the case would have taken to reach the settlement offer depends on various factors such as how long your husband's medical treatment lasted until he was released by the doctor, the length of time to obtain the medical report(s), medical bills and documentation of any wage loss, the other driver's insurance company's response time to the demand letter, etc.  It is not uncommon for these items to have taken about a year as occurred in your husband's case.

Your husband can fire his attorney with or without cause, but will then end up paying two attorneys out of the eventual settlement of the case.  The first attorney would have a lien on the settlement which would probably be an hourly rate.  The second attorney would be paid a contingency fee.  Paying both attorneys will significantly reduce the amount of compensation your husband receives. 

The attorney should keep your husband informed of case developments, return phone calls, respond in a timely manner to correspondence and should have informed your husband of the change of address.


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