Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Why Does it Take So Long to Get to Trial?

We make an effort in every personal injury case to settle before trial. But sometimes a case just can’t settle, most often because the negligent party or their insurance company is being unreasonable and not offering fair compensation. When this happens, you have to have a jury trial. The culmination of most personal injury cases is trial. It’s what all the work that goes into the case is for. However, clients are often surprised and annoyed that it takes so long to get to trial. Here’s why.

First, the judge whom your case is in front of probably has a tremendous caseload and won’t have an opening for a jury trial until probably a year out. Most circuit court judges in Missouri not only have a docket of 300-500 personal injury cases, but also hear domestic cases and criminal cases. They typically go on rotations for each type of case. So you’ll have a 3 to 4 month stretch where the judge only hear divorces, then another 3 to 4 month stretch where the judge only hears criminal cases. Then, they’ll have a stretch where they hear their personal injury cases. These are heard usually in order of the filing date. So the older cases get tried first. This is why it can take over a year before a judge can hear a personal injury case.

In addition to the judge’s calendar, the trial has to fit into the lawyer’s calendars. If one of the lawyers is not available at the judge’s first opening, then we move on to the judge’s next opening, which may not be until the next rotation. At our firm, jury trials are top priority, so if we have a conflict at the judge’s first opening, we cancel or move the conflicting appointment to ensure an earlier trial date.

Sometimes, in addition to the judge’s and lawyer’s availability, we have to contend with a witness’s availability. For example, if you need to have your doctor come testify at trial about your injuries, you will have to work with his schedule when setting the case for trial. This can add to the difficulty in securing a trial date.

I hope you have a better understanding why it takes so long to get to trial in a personal injury case. If you have any other questions about personal injury trials or anything related to personal injury cases, please do not hesitate to contact the firm at any time.