How Long Could My Uber®/Lyft® Passenger Lawsuit Case Take?

It's not easy to predict when your rideshare passenger injury case will settle, or if yours is one of the rare cases that go to trial.

If you've suffered any kind of injury as a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, and you're considering a lawsuit over the accident or incident, you're likely wondering about the process and what to expect in terms of timing. No matter what kind of harm you've suffered, the first thing to know is that like any other kind of personal injury case, a typical rideshare passenger injury claim proceeds through a number of distinct stages. And while every case is different, a number of factors will determine the timeline of your case.

The Uber®/Lyft® Passenger Injury Lawsuit Process

Here's a snapshot of the key phases of a typical lawsuit over injuries suffered in a rideshare vehicle:

  • The Uber®/Lyft® customer (now the "plaintiff") files a civil complaint in court. The complaint is the document that starts the personal injury lawsuit. It describes the plaintiff's case and claims against the "defendant"—usually the rideshare driver or other at-fault driver (perhaps even Uber® or Lyft® themselves). Note that plaintiffs sometimes name multiple defendants, as might happen when a customer sues both the driver and the rideshare company
  • The defendant files an answer to the complaint.
  • The discovery process begins: The plaintiff and defendant exchange information, medical records, and other evidence through written questions (interrogatories), sworn testimony (depositions), and document requests.
  • Pre-trial motions are filed and hearings are held: Both sides of the lawsuit try to persuade the judge to allow or disallow certain evidence (testimony from a proposed expert witness, for example) or to dismiss all or part of the other side's argument.
  • Trial takes place: The plaintiff and defendant carefully set out their arguments in front of the judge or jury, and the judge or jury decides whether the defendant should be held financially responsible for the plaintiff's injuries and other losses (damages) arising from the rideshare accident or other incident.

Those are the basics of the process, but the two sides could discuss (and finalize) a settlement at any point (more on this later). Now let's take a closer look at factors that have the biggest impact on how long the lawsuit process might take in cases like these.

Rideshare Passenger Injury Cases Can Get Complicated

Especially if you and your lawyer decide to pursue a case directly against a rideshare company (in addition to or instead of one against the rideshare driver), legal issues can get pretty thorny. And especially if your injuries are significant, there will certainly be stacks of medical records to sift through, and perhaps expert witnesses to hear from (maybe even multiple experts on both sides of the case).

All this means some of the phases mentioned above will undoubtedly take longer than they might in a less complex lawsuit (one stemming from a standard car accident, for example). That's especially true when it comes to the discovery process and the filing of pretrial motions that will set the ground rules for any trial.

The court's calendar may also affect the timeline of a rideshare passenger injury case. If the calendar is clogged, hearing and trial dates might get pushed back by weeks or months.

Your Uber®/Lyft® Lawsuit Could Settle at Any Time

As discussed above, any lawsuit over injuries suffered in an Uber®/Lyft® vehicle is bound to follow roughly the same path from the filing of the complaint through a trial, but it's important to note that settlement of the lawsuit can take place at any time.

For example, soon after the complaint is filed the plaintiff's attorney could send a demand letter to the other side, detailing the plaintiff's harm and asking for a certain dollar amount as compensation. This letter could spur serious settlement talks, and if a settlement agreement is reached before trial, the lawsuit will be dismissed. Especially as the trial date gets closer and the parties get a better sense of the case landscape (and of their respective chances of prevailing), there's a good chance they'll at least test the settlement waters. And even if the two sides don't come together on their own to try to resolve the case out of court, depending on the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit is filed, the court is almost certain to require that the plaintiff and defendant attend at least one mandatory settlement conference before trial takes place. Learn more about how personal injury settlements work.

The Timeline Is (Partly) up to You

One of the biggest variables in determining how long your Uber®/Lyft® injury lawsuit will take is you. If the defendant offers you a settlement early on, you'll certainly end up with some fast cash, but you might not be getting full and fair compensation for your losses. (More: How much is an Uber®/Lyft® passenger injury case worth?)

Early settlement usually isn't a good idea if there are still big unknowns, including:

Before any of the formal litigation steps described in this article, the first move for a potential plaintiff is consulting an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to explain the rules in your jurisdiction and your strategic options. An attorney can present the pros and cons of settlement, including the fact that once you settle, you can't go back and ask for more money, even if it turns out your injuries are worse than you first thought. Learn how to find the right lawyer for you and your rideshare passenger injury case.

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