How long does it take to resolve a lawsuit?

February 23, 2024

By: Karen Hulan

Beckett Personal Injury Office's Scales of Justice's article image

This is one of the most common questions an injured person has when they are about to retain a lawyer. Any lawyer you are meeting with cannot say with certainty how long it will take. The honest answer is, it depends.


A case cannot be settled without a medical prognosis about what your future condition could be. It usually takes a minimum of two years from the time of an injury to obtain a prognosis because generally, an injury will improve over this period but sometimes it takes much longer.


The length of time a lawsuit will take to reach a settlement, mediation or a trial is also very difficult to determine because there are many factors impacting the lawsuit. Some of those factors include:


  1. How quick you are to respond to your lawyer’s requests for information and documentation.
  2. The degree of co-operation your lawyer receives from the defence lawyer(s) in arranging and conducting examinations for discovery.
  3. How long it takes for your lawyer to obtain a medical prognosis from the doctors involved in the case.
  4. The degree of co-operation your lawyer receives from the doctors and other health professionals in providing her with copies of their clinical notes and records, when those records are requested.
  5. The degree of co-operation your lawyer receives from the doctors and other health professionals in providing detailed and comprehensive medical-legal reports when requested.
  6. The degree of co-operation your lawyer receives from other people and institutions from whom requests for records are made such as a request for police notes and records from the investigating police force, a request for school records from schools and colleges, personnel and employment records from past employers, income tax returns from Revenue Canada, OHIP records from the Ministry of Health and so on.
  7. How long it takes for various assessments to occur after your lawyer receives a medical prognosis from physicians, as well as how long it takes for the various assessors to deliver reports.
  8. How long it takes for the defence lawyer to arrange various defence medical examinations, which are usually arranged after the various assessments of you have been conducted and reports delivered.
  9. How long it takes your lawyer to obtain an economic loss report, which is the last expert’s report received and which is only requested by your lawyer after all other assessments (not including the defence medical examinations) have been completed and reports delivered.
  10. How long it takes, after examinations for discovery are completed, to obtain pre-trial conference and trial dates from the Superior Court of Justice. When your lawyer appears in trial scheduling court to schedule a trial date the important determining factors are the availability of Court resources, the anticipated length of the trial (generally speaking, the shorter the length of trial, the sooner the court has available trial dates), the availability of witnesses and the schedule of the lawyers involved in the case.

This is not to suggest that your case will not be resolved at an earlier stage. Settlement discussions, mediations and negotiations can occur at any point in litigation. The above list is simply meant to illustrate the steps of the proceeding and factors affecting the maximum length of time you can expect.

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