How Long Does a Civil Lawsuit Take?
Understanding the Normal Timeline of a Civil Suit in Massachusetts
How long your lawsuit takes will depend on a variety of things, including opportunities for settlement during the process.
Generally, if a suit goes all the way through trial, you should expect it to take about two years. Right now, courts are still dealing with a backlog from COVID, so this time period is longer for pending cases. It remains to be seen how quickly courts will be able to get back to a more normal schedule.
Within that time, the first two or three months are when the complaint is filed and answered, either with an answer or a motion to dismiss. After that is a period of discovery, lasting usually 9-12 months. How long it takes to get to trial after discovery ends depends on whether the defendant files a motion for summary judgment, and when the court has availability for your trial.
You should know, also, that over 97% of civil cases end in settlement sometime before trial. You should talk to your attorney about your settlement expectations, and finding opportunities in the schedule to try to resolve the matter with the other side.
Learn more here about what to expect as a plaintiff in a civil suit in Massachusetts.
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