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Personal injuries exact a huge toll in the United States, costing over $1.2 trillion in 2021 alone.

On a personal level, sustaining an injury is often a devastating and life-changing experience.

Of course, it can happen in many ways. Maybe you were involved in a car accident.

Maybe you tripped and fell on a slippery floor on someone else’s property. Or maybe a car hit you while you were crossing the road. 

Regardless of what happened, it’s helpful to understand the personal injury lawsuit process. This article will provide you with an overview of that process.

We’ll also discuss a possible timeline for filing a personal lawsuit and how to file a personal injury claim in North Carolina.

Finally, we’ll discuss how our North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, can help you every step of the way.

Personal Injury Lawsuit: Definitions and Process Overview

personal injury lawsuit process

Let’s start with definitions. A personal injury lawsuit is a legal claim filed by an individual who has been injured as a result of the negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing of another party.

The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to obtain compensation for the damages the injured party has incurred.

This generally includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other related losses.

Process Overview

Navigating the personal injury lawsuit settlement process can prove to be a challenging and time-consuming endeavor. The personal injury lawsuit process can be broken down into several stages. 

Initial consultation

The process begins when you consult an attorney. After doing some research, you’ll meet with an attorney for an initial consultation.

During this consultation, the attorney discusses the specifics of your case and determines whether you have a viable claim. The attorney may also provide an estimate of what your case may be worth.


After you’ve hired an attorney, they will investigate your case by gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts. This investigation can take several weeks or months.

Demand letter 

Once the investigation is complete, your attorney may send a demand letter to the defendant or their insurance company.

This letter will outline the damages you’re seeking and provide evidence to support your claim.


The defendant or their insurance company may accept your demands outright. Or they respond to the demand letter with a settlement offer.

Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to try to reach a fair settlement. Most lawsuits actually end in settlements. 

Filing a lawsuit

If you cannot reach a reasonable settlement, your attorney may file a lawsuit on your behalf. This will initiate the formal legal process.

There are many procedural hurdles to surmount during this time. A qualified attorney will be aware of these, but unrepresented plaintiffs may find themselves surprised.

Occasionally, even people with excellent cases can lose on procedural grounds. That is why it is critical to have an attorney represent you. 


After some initial conferences, the parties in a lawsuit receive an opportunity to conduct discovery. During this time, both sides will exchange information and evidence related to the case.

This can include requests for documents and interrogatories. Discovery can also include depositions. This is when one person is interviewed under oath by an attorney. 

Pre-Hearing and trial

Once discovery is complete, the parties will have an opportunity to submit prehearing motions. One example of this is a motion for summary judgment.

This asks the court to grant you relief without having to go to an actual hearing. Mediation sessions can also occur in the time immediately before the trial.

After the trial, which will take at least several days or even weeks, the jury will reach a verdict. If the verdict is in your favor, you will be awarded damages.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline

The personal injury lawsuit timeline can vary based on the particular circumstances of the case. The average timeline of a personal injury lawsuit can range from several months to well over a year, contingent upon various case-specific factors. These may include the intricacy and duration of the evidence-gathering process, as well as the extent and seriousness of the sustained injuries.

Generally, the process can take anywhere from several months to even years.

The timeline varies according to several factors, including:

  • The severity of the injuries,
  • The complexity of the case,
  • The willingness of the defendant or their insurance company to negotiate a settlement, and
  • The current judicial workload. 

Other factors may also play a role in your case’s timeline.  

Act Quickly

Under North Carolina law, there is a statute of limitations that sets a time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit.

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in North Carolina is three years from the date of the injury.

If you don’t file your lawsuit within this deadline, you will likely be barred from recovering compensation for your damages.

How to File a Personal Injury Claim in North Carolina

To file a personal injury claim in North Carolina, the injured party must file a complaint with the court that has jurisdiction over the case.

The complaint must contain a detailed description of the incident that caused the injury, the damages that were suffered due to the injury, and the legal basis for the claim.

Once the complaint has been filed, the defendant will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations and present their own evidence.

Our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You

Now you have seen how the personal injury process works. Hopefully, you can see some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

At Mehta & McConnell, we understand that the personal injury lawsuit process can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys have over 30 years of combined legal experience. In addition, our attorneys actually worked for insurance companies in the past.

Thanks to those experiences, we have unique insight into the legal strategies that insurance companies use to deny or reduce claims.

On top of that, our attorneys are dedicated to providing outstanding customer service to our clients.

We pride ourselves on being responsive, communicative, and available to our clients throughout the entire legal process.

We understand that every case is unique, and we will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Finally, we offer free initial consultations to all potential clients so that you can discuss your case with us without any financial obligation. 

Author Photo

Jason McConnell

Jason McConnell is the managing attorney of Mehta & McConnell Injury Lawyers, a Charlotte, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm. In his free time he enjoys playing golf, cooking, traveling and following the UNC Tar Heels and Carolina Panthers.

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