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How Long Will My Case Take?




How Long Will My Case Take?

How long will my case take?  Many new Plaintiffs ask this question.  The short answer: In Arizona, the length of your new case is based on how much your case is “worth” (financially).  The more money you’re asking for, the longer your case will take.  The most time consuming part of any case is discovery.  Once discovery is complete, most cases end relatively quickly. 

How Long Will Discovery Take?

In most cases, Arizona segments cases into one of three “tiers” based on the how much the Plaintiff sues for.  When a case is relatively small—but not too small—the case is classified as “Tier I.”  In Maricopa and Pima Counties, those cases where the Plaintiff seeks between $10,000 and $50,000 are deemed Tier I and are required to undergo mandatory arbitration.  “Discovery” in these small, Tier I cases has to be completed within 180 days.  Cases “worth” some amount between $50,001 and $300,000 are assigned to Tier II and also have to be completed within 180 days.  The key difference between Tier I and Tier II cases is that Tier II cases do not have an arbitrator involved while Tier I cases do.  Discovery in cases where the Plaintiff sues under complex legal theories or where the amount claimed is more than $300,000 have an additional 60 days to complete discovery, leaving the parties 240 days to complete discovery.        

Summary

As a rule of thumb, adding three to four months onto the time discovery takes will accurately describe how long your case will take.  The first month of litigation is typically slow paced:  First, the Plaintiff serves the Defendant with a “Complaint,” and the Defendant comes back with their “Answer” within 30 days.  The Final Month after discovery concludes is similarly slow paced unless the parties are preparing to go through with a trial. 



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