How Long Does A Lawsuit Take in Kentucky on a Car Crash Case?
A potential client contacted me two weeks ago about representing her. The insurance for the other side made her an insufficient offer. Presumably because she didn’t have a lawyer ☹. Her statute runs in two days and she texted me yesterday asking how long does litigation take. The answer is below:
Filing a Kentucky Personal Injury Lawsuit
The process of filing a lawsuit isn’t difficult if you have done it before. The Complaint is basically an outline of the parties, the allegations, the jurisdiction, and the damages sustained by the injured party. I can draw up a simple Complaint on a Louisville car crash within 20 minutes.
The more complicated the case the longer it will take to draw up a Complaint. Things like multiple defendants, a delivery driver, or corporate car make the Complaint longer. Uber, Lyft, Yellow Cab, Jimmy Johns, Papa Johns Pizza and all sorts of corporations put drivers on the roadways of Kentucky. If they crash into you then I sue them along with the driver in an individual capacity.
Once the paperwork is printed (and you can e-file everything now as well) a summons is drawn up. This is pulled from the court’s website. It’s fill in the blank on the parties and where they should be served by the Sheriff.
All this paperwork is taken to the Clerk of Court along with a $268 check in Jefferson County, Kentucky and filed. Your car crash case is now active and the statute of limitations is preserved.
Moving forward let’s pretend I file this Complaint on January 1, 2020.
Serving of The Defendant in Kentucky
Are you Mr. Dettman? Yes. YOU ARE SERVED! TV makes a big deal about this process. It can be a real pain if the defendant tries to evade service. Most of the time the Sheriff can go track someone down and just give them paperwork. This depends on how busy the sheriff is. It is also possible to serve out of state defendants by serving the Kentucky Secretary of State.
If someone evades process I file a Motion to Appoint a Special Bailiff. That is basically a private investigator I pay to go serve someone if the police cannot get them. My Special Bailiff has “LIVE” on is right knuckles and “HARD” on his left knuckles. I’ve never had him not get someone, but it can take some time depending on how tricky the Defendant is being.
Service by the sheriff: February 7, 2020.
Service by a special bailiff because Defendant is evading process: April 1, 2020
The Defendant Responds
Upon being served with the Complaint the Defendant has 30 days to file an Answer. Most of the time the Answer is a boilerplate denial of everything in the Complaint. Defense lawyers file them on behalf of the Defendant. Different Insurance companies use different law firms or lawyers on a pretty regular basis. In Kentucky, I can tell you with relative certainty what law firm will be hired based on the insurance company of the Defendant.
If a defense lawyer is too busy it will cause delays. If a big firm lawyer is hired to defend they usually ask for an extension. Car crash lawyers that defend cases on a regular basis get their Answers filed on time.
If I file a lawsuit on January 1, 2020 and it is served right away, I expect an Answer March 1, 2020.
Discovery on a Kentucky Personal Injury
Interrogatories, Admissions, and Requests to Produce are the most common forms of discovery in Kentucky. These are written questions and demands like: Tell us what happened? Where did it happen? Admit that you did this thing wrong. Give us a copy of the insurance policy.
The Plaintiff and the Defendant will both send Discovery to the other side. Once it is sent 30 days is the required turn around. In all reality it’s more like 60 days before a response is filed depending on the case.
Car Crash cases in Louisville are relatively uncomplicated to get a response if the Defendant is in communication with their lawyer. Corporate defendants take more time to respond. If the Defendant lives out of state or refuses to communicate with their lawyer this process will be drawn out.
We are probably looking at May 1, 2020 before discovery responses are filed.
Depositions on a Kentucky Personal Injury Case
Depositions will be taken by both sides in a disputed liability car crash case in Louisville, Kentucky. A client will come to my office and answer questions under oath for the other side. It usually takes two hours. If one side is clearly at fault I may not depose the Defendant right off the bat. This would change if I could get potentially damaging information on the defendant or want to put pressure on the other side.
Depositions are usually set when discovery sent or responded to. I ask the Defense when they would like to depose my client when I receive discovery. Normally this is two months out from the date I receive the paperwork.
We are at June 1, 2020 assuming no unnecessary delays.
Defense lawyers write up reports to insurance company adjusters after depositions. This report analyzes the Plaintiff and other strengths and weaknesses of a case. I usually give two to three weeks for a defense lawyer to write this report before reaching out to move the case forward. Depending on the case a mediation may make sense. However, in lieu of mediation a pre-trial/trial date might be better. This happens when liability is disputed or an insurance company seriously undervalues a case.
The mediation will be held at either law firm. The goal of a mediation is to get the case resolved and eliminate risk. If the other side puts up enough money my client will be paid within 20 days or so. If the defense won’t pay enough the case gets set for trial.
Mediation will be set September 1, 2020.
Getting a Trial Date on a Kentucky Personal Injury Case
My next step is to set a Notice Motion Order at the courthouse. That is a hearing where I will ask the judge for a trial date. Depending on the judge we may be given a final pre-trial and/or a trial date. How long it takes depends on the docket. Some judges set cases out six months. Others can be a year. It is rarely before six months.
Some judges set multiple trials on the same day. This happens because judges know that a lot of cases settle before trial. A problem occurs when two cases are set for trial on the same day are “going.” In this scenario the “older” case usually goes. This is the case that has been in the courthouse the longest. If a criminal case is set on the docket that case will always take precedence over a civil trial.
October 1, 2020 is the hearing on the Notice Motion Order
Judge will set the trial 8 months out on average. June 1, 2020.
As discussed, if my client’s case is set for trial but is “younger” than the other case the judge will bump my case out another six to eight months. I anticipate getting bumped at least one time on every case due to how busy the trial dockets are in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
December 1, 2021 after filing a lawsuit on January 1, 2020 is quite some time. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.
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