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How long will my case take?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question.  With respect to matters pending in court, the length of time before any case is resolved (whether at trial, by settlement, or otherwise) will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The particular court in which the case is pending.  The Small Claims Division of state court, which handles summary ejectment (i.e., eviction) and other civil disputes in which the amount at stake is $5,000 or less, is designed to resolve cases within a matter of weeks.  More significant matters filed in the Superior Court Division of state court or in federal court may take as long as a year, or more, to reach trial.
  • The parties’ willingness to settle. The vast majority of civil cases filed in North Carolina and across the United States – over 90 percent – are resolved by some means other than a courtroom trial.  Most often, this occurs through a settlement reached by the parties and their attorneys.  How soon – or late – in the litigation process this takes place depends on each side’s willingness to compromise.
  • Appeals.  In those cases that do get resolved by trial or by court rulings, the losing party typically has a right to appeal.  The appeals process – while an important right and a protection against incorrect outcomes – will further delay the ultimate resolution of a contested legal matter.
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