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In general, complicated cases involving several parties or complex legal issues will take longer to resolve than cases against only one defendant where liability is clear.

The length of time will also depend on the willingness of both parties to settle a case and the availability of court dates for trial.


There is a rule requiring plaintiffs to set their matters down for trial within five years of commencing an action against a defendant. However, this does not mean that a case will be finished in five years. Setting down a case for trial is a formal process whereby a plaintiff signifies to the court that a case is trial ready and requests a trial date from the court. Typically, trial dates are set two or three years in advance. If a plaintiff waits until the fifth anniversary of a claim to request a trial date, it could be another two or three years before the case is heard at trial. This works out to seven or eight years from the anniversary of starting the claim that the case ends up in trial.


Complicated cases are not always ready for trial by the fifth anniversary of starting the claim. In those cases, the parties can agree to a timetable for next steps instead of setting the matter down for trial. This can further extend the timeline for trial. Sometimes this can lead to cases lasting 10 years or more before resolving.


On the other hand, where liability and damages are clear, cases can resolve within one or two years if both sides are willing to compromise.


This means that most personal injury claims take anywhere between one to 10 years to resolve. It is very stressful for an injured plaintiff to wait years not knowing when or if his or her case will settle or when it will come to a conclusion. Our practice is to have a case trial ready as soon as possible in order to resolve a case at its earliest opportunity.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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