If you’ve been injured on the islands and are thinking of filing a lawsuit, you may wonder how the process works and what stages your lawsuit will go through. And, you may be shocked to find out just how long the process can take.
On average, a personal injury case in Hawaii takes a couple of years to conclude. It can take even longer if the case goes to trial, but it can also be much shorter if the parties are reasonable and a settlement is quickly reached. Each case is different and a lot depends on the complexity of the legal issues, how many parties are involved, and the severity of the injuries.
Your case begins with the filing of your complaint. This is a written document that alleges what happened to you, who is responsible, and under what legal theory you contend they are responsible for your injuries. The person or entity that injured you (known as the defendant) next files an answer responding to the allegations you made. The defendant may also file a motion to dismiss the case, instead of filing an answer.
If the judge denies the motion to dismiss, the case will proceed to a process known as discovery. Discovery usually takes about six months. During this time, the parties obtain information from each other and from people and entities not involved in the lawsuit, such as medical providers. Your lawyer may try to settle the case after the discovery process is concluded.
If your case doesn’t settle, your attorney may recommend mediation at some point. A mediator is a neutral party who tries to get the parties to reach a settlement. Many cases are successfully resolved through mediation.
Almost all personal injury cases will settle at this point, prior to trial. However, if the defendant is offering a very low settlement amount, your case will proceed to trial. The length of the trial will vary according to the complexity of the case.