I’m often asked how long it takes to take a nursing home lawsuit all the way to verdict. Although each case is different, it generally takes an average of 18 months to 2 years.
When the lawsuit is filed, the defendants, generally the nursing home and any liable staff, must be served. Once all the defendants have been served, the law provides 30 days for them to file an answer to the lawsuit. An answer sets out their defenses and rebuttals to the allegations.
After an answer is filed, the parties begin a six month “discovery” period. During discovery, the parties exchange documents and request written statements regarding the case.
More importantly during this time, the parties will depose important witnesses, treating doctors, nursing home staff, and experts. Depositions are an extremely valuable tool for pursuing a case. It is one of the first opportunities to shine the light on what happened.
Due to the complexity of nursing home cases, the discovery period is generally extended by several months, and sometimes lasts over a year.
Often, courts will require the parties to mediate the dispute. Mediation is a non-binding alternative dispute resolution method, in which the parties plead their case to a neutral mediator. The mediator will attempt to settle the case. Many, many cases are settled at mediation.
If mediation is unsuccessful, there is generally a period of time for filing what are called “dispositive motions,” the kind of motions that can dismiss a case before it even gets to trial. This can last several months.
After discovery and dispositive motions, cases are then placed on a trial calendar, in the order in which they arrive on the judge’s docket.
Depending on the number of weeks in the judge’s trial term, and the number of cases on the docket, the case my linger on the trial calendar from several weeks to several months.
The trial itself may take from as little as 3 days to a couple weeks.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a nursing home or assisted living facility, and have question about how long it may take to receive compensation, it is very important that you call and speak to one of our experienced injury lawyers today.