Personal Injury Timeline

As a practicing personal injury and insurance claim attorney in Chicago, Illinois, I am often asked by clients and potential clients alike:  “What is the exact timeline for recovery?” or more commonly, “When will I get my money after suit is filed?”

If you have a recently filed lawsuit in the First Municipal Division in Cook County Illinois or plan to file suit, you may wonder how long it will take before there is a resolution of your case.  On February 1, 2011 I attended a roundtable for judges and the presiding judge for the division provided the attorneys with a fairly precise timeline from the moment of service of the defendant with the suit papers!

The upshot is, it takes approximately 1 year from the date the defendant is served for your case to get to arbitration, a mini trial where your case is evaluated by arbitrators.  Let’s take a sample case filed on January 1.

1.    January 1 suit filed.

After the suit is filed, the defendant must be served with the papers so that s/he has notice that s/he is a party to a lawsuit.  It may take a few tries to serve the defendant 30, 60, 90 or more than 120 days.  For purposes of this timeline, let’s assume he is served within 30 days.

2.    Defendant served February 1.

When suit is filed it automatically set on a progress call by the court approximately 90 days out to allow for service of the defendant.

3.    Progress Call April 1.

The first court date is the progress call.  At the first progress call, if the defendant is served the court sets an All Discovery Closure or “ADC”.  Depending on the size of your case, the court will allow 90 or 120 days to complete discovery.

4.   All Discovery Closure Date August 1.

During the discovery phase of the case you will answer interrogatories which are written questions about your injury, medical bills and other damages.  You will appear for a deposition which are oral questions about your how the accident happened, injury and medical bills.

5.    Arbitration October 1.

The arbitration is basically a mini-trial where your case is heard by a panel of three attorney.  You must appear along with the at-fault party to testify about the facts of the damages.  Based on the testimony and other evidence in a document called a Rule 90(c) package, a decision will be made by the arbitrators about how much they think your case is worth.

6.    Acceptance or Rejection Period October 30.

After the arbitrators enter an award in your favor or the defendant’s favor, each side is given 30 days to accept or reject the award of the arbitrators by filing a rejection with the court and filing a fee.

7.      Judgment on the Award December 1.

If the award is accepted, at the hearing for the Judgment on Award a judgment is entered and the case is dismissed.  If the plaintiff was awarded money the process for obtaining a settlement draft will take place, if it has not do so already.

Approximately 50% of cases settle after the arbitration.

If the award is rejected, approximately three weeks later, the matter is set for trial status before a trial judge.

8.     December 22, Trial Setting.
If your case does not settle, then the case will be sent to a trial judge approximately three weeks after the Judgment on Award.  At the Trial setting your case will be set for trial at a time convenient for the parties and available to the judge.