How Long Does a Civil Lawsuit Take in Minnesota?

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If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in an accident in Minnesota, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit. How long a civil lawsuit takes in Minnesota depends on many factors. Civil cases typically take several months or years to resolve, but a Minnesota personal injury lawyer from Sieben Polk Law Firm can help accelerate the process. Your lawyer can also help you meet relevant lawsuit deadlines.

How long does a civil lawsuit take in Minnesota? Depending on the case’s complexity, civil lawsuits in Minnesota can take several months or even years. 

A skilled Minnesota personal injury attorney can help speed up an insurance claim or civil lawsuit. They can also explain Minnesota’s procedural rules, ensure you meet all deadlines, prepare all court filings on your behalf, negotiate for an out-of-court settlement, and advocate for you in court, if necessary. Book a free case consultation with a Sieben Polk Law Firm attorney to learn more about your legal options.

How Long Does a Civil Lawsuit Take in Minnesota?

The time it takes to resolve a civil lawsuit in Minnesota depends on how many parties are involved, the case’s complexity, the extent of the investigation needed, and the parties’ cooperation to resolve the matter. Generally speaking, cases that resolve without litigation may only take a few months to a year, while cases that go to trial may take several years. Cases that involve appeals have the longest timelines.

To learn more about the timeline for your case, talk to Sieben Polk Law Firm. Our skilled Minnesota lawyers can thoroughly analyze your case and determine your timeline. We can also help you speed up your civil dispute or lawsuit.

Timeline for a Civil Lawsuit in Minnesota

Here is a breakdown of the typical steps in Minnesota civil lawsuits:

  1. Pre-lawsuit: One week to a few months. During this step, parties investigate underlying facts, review documents, receive legal advice from their lawyers, and attempt to negotiate a resolution. Straightforward civil lawsuits may resolve within a week, but more complicated cases could take several months.
  2. Pleading stage: One to two months. After the pre-lawsuit stage, one party begins the civil lawsuit by serving the defendant with a summons and complaint. Service of the summons and complaint compels the defendant to appear in court to defend themselves against the lawsuit.  
  3. Disclosure and discovery: One to six months. The disclosure and discovery stage involves exchanging information about evidence and witnesses with the opposition. This phase includes exchanging interrogatories, which are written questions about the case, and requests for the production of documents. It may also include depositions of the parties and other witnesses. This step can take several weeks if the parties agree to expedite the process, but it usually takes a few months. 
  4. Motion stage: One to three months. Motions are formal requests for desired orders, rulings, or judgments. For example, a motion for summary judgment asks the court to rule on part or all of a defense or claim. If a party can show there is no genuine issue requiring a trial, the judge will probably dismiss the opposing party’s defense or claim.
  5. Pretrial stage: Approximately one month. During the pre-trial stage, parties file requests and motions before the pre-trial hearing, also known as the trial management conference or settlement conference. The judge may suggest a one-day mediation during this period if there is no winning motion or settlement. 
  6. Trial and decision: One day to three months. Most civil cases require one to three days of trial time, but complicated cases may take up to two weeks. If the case has post-trial motions, it may take up to three months to resolve.
  7. Appeal: Six months to over a year. Most civil lawsuits do not reach the appeal stage, but if they do, appeals must generally be filed with the court within 60 days of a decision. After filing the appeal, it may take half a year or more to receive a decision from the state court, the Minnesota Court of Appeals. An appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court will take much longer.
  8. Post-judgment: One month to many years. If you get a judgment at any stage of the case, you can try to collect the judgment. If the judgment debtor agrees to pay, the winning party may receive payment within a month. However, you may need many years to collect if the debtor does not cooperate or lacks the personal property to pay.

How You Can Speed Up a Civil Dispute or Lawsuit

Here are some ways to speed up a civil dispute or lawsuit:

  • Consult a lawyer as early as possible.
  • Try narrowing the scope of the trial.
  • Always keep open communication throughout the case.
  • Consider alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration.
  • Respond to requests, pleadings, and discovery as soon as possible.
  • Build the most compelling case by documenting everything and gathering all supporting evidence. 
  • Develop a legal strategy and identify possible negotiation positions.
  • Encourage the other party to settle.
  • Ask the other party to informally exchange all information without formal discovery.

Talk to your lawyer to learn more about accelerating your lawsuit or civil dispute.

Common Factors That Cause a Civil Case To Take Longer

Here are some factors that cause cases to have protracted timelines:

  • The law is unclear.
  • The facts are contested.
  • There is a lot of evidence to review. 
  • One or both parties fail to respond promptly.
  • There are many witnesses. 
  • One or both parties are uncommunicative.
  • A new judge or attorney is added to the case. 
  • An important witness changes their story.
  • The parties refuse to consider settlement options.

What Generally Happens With Civil Disputes That Just Started?

After a civil dispute starts, you and the other party may informally try to determine what happened and how to resolve the issue. If there is no resolution, you should seek legal advice. If the legal advice clarifies the issues, both parties may consider settling out of court. 

However, if there is no resolution, you may try to find new facts, get expert opinions, and find new witnesses, which could take several weeks. If there is no progress after several weeks, one of the parties may consider starting a lawsuit.

What Deadlines Must Be Met for a Civil Lawsuit in Minnesota?

Civil lawsuits require parties to meet several other deadlines, including deadlines for:

  • Filing suit
  • Amending pleadings
  • Adding parties
  • Completing discovery
  • Disclosing expert witness opinions
  • Filing motions
  • Filing exhibit and witness lists
  • Going to trial

If an attorney is representing you, you may have the opportunity to create schedules for the judge’s approval. If the judge does not approve of the schedule, they will set litigation deadlines.

What Happens if a Party Fails To Follow Deadlines?

If a party fails to follow time limits, they may lose their case or face sanctions. For instance, the defendant might decline to participate in discovery. As a result, the judge may issue sanctions against them or limit the evidence they can present at trial. An experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney can help you establish and follow your case’s deadlines.

Can the Court Extend Deadlines?

Yes, the court can extend deadlines upon request. However, judges do not automatically offer extensions. Under Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 16.02, both parties must have a good reason to request an extension. 

Does the ‘Pocket Filing Rule’ Affect Deadlines?

Yes. The pocket filing rule refers to Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 5.04(a), which requires the plaintiff to have served the summons and complaint in the proper court within a year unless the parties agree otherwise. If the plaintiff fails to do this, their case will automatically be dismissed unless they can reinstate the case under Rule 60.02.

Does the Statute of Limitations Affect Court Deadlines?

The statute of limitations is the first deadline you must meet in a civil lawsuit. This time limit determines when you should start a lawsuit. A lawsuit is commenced by filing a complaint and serving the defendant with it and a summons. Minnesota has a six-year statute of limitations, or deadline, for personal injury claims. 

Our Personal Injury Attorneys Are Here To Help

United States civil lawsuits have multiple deadlines, making them overwhelming and confusing. Fortunately, Sieben Polk Law Firm’s trusted attorneys can handle your case and help you file everything on time. 

We have over 200 years of combined legal experience serving Minnesotan personal injury victims. Our lawyers handle numerous types of claims, including the following:

  • Car accidents 
  • Motorcycle accidents 
  • Truck accidents 
  • Wrongful death 

If you or a loved one have suffered pain and injury from an accident, call Sieben Polk Law Firm’s experienced Eagan personal injury attorneys at 651-437-3148 or contact us online for a free consultation. 

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