Every person who suffers an injury because of the negligent behavior of another person has questions. One common question is how long a lawsuit will take—after all, while you recover from an injury, your income is limited and you face financial challenges.
Your Injuries and The Role in Lawsuit Time Frames
One of the first things you will have to understand is that your injuries and your recovery will play a significant role in how long it takes to settle your case. The reasons for this are the rule known as maximum medical recovery.
- Your time away from work - until you have reached a certain level in your recovery, you will be unable to return to your normal employment. Until then, you cannot know how much lost income you can claim.
- Your medical bills - until you no longer need medical attention for your injuries, you
won't know your out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Maximum medical recovery only means that doctors expect no further improvement. Victims of an accident may never fully recover from their injuries.
Understanding the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Once an accident victim has reached full maximum recovery, your personal injury attorney’s primary task is building a case for compensation on your behalf.
Here are some steps to achieve that goal:
- Establishing proof of liability—your attorney will likely start this process before your recovery is complete. This step involves reviewing accident reports, interviewing witnesses to the accident that caused your injury, and a review of any photos of the scene of the accident and your injuries.
- Demand for compensation—once your recovery is as complete as possible, your attorney will work with you to determine your financial losses. Once your lawyer establishes a firm amount, they will send a settlement demand to the insurance company of the responsible party. The demand will include documents supporting your claim.
- Response to demand—once your attorney receives a response to the demand, they will begin negotiations on your behalf with the insurance company. This process can take several weeks or longer depending on the response from the insurer.
- Court filings when needed—while not every personal injury case winds up in court, your attorney will be prepared to take the matter to court if negotiations with the insurance company fail. Remember, when an insurer makes an offer, your attorney will advise you about it, even when they feel it is insufficient. You always have the option of accepting.
The scheduling of your case is strictly up to the court.
Once the court hears and issues a judgment in your case, the insurance company may appeal the decision. Your attorney can explain this process and the likely timeframes.
Personal Injury Cases Require Complicated, Hard Work
Cases involving personal injury are not always clear-cut. While the statute of limitations allows two years to file a personal injury case, this deadline may increase if the injuries require long-term medical intervention.
Other situations may alter the timeframes for closing out a case. For example, if you suffer an injury in a truck accident and both the driver and the employer bear some liability, you may need to negotiate with multiple insurance companies.
Communication Matters in Personal Injury Lawsuit Cases
One of the most important things following your accident is regular communication with an experienced personal injury attorney. Since every case is unique, there is no simple answer available as to how long a case will take.
An experienced attorney who can review similar cases can give you their best estimate, but ultimately, the specific nature of your injuries and the insurers’ willingness to negotiate a fair settlement will have the biggest impact on how quickly a case may settle.
You should also be aware that most personal injury claims never go to trial. There is very little benefit to either party having a personal injury case go to trial as it simply increases the costs everyone pays.
Remember, while you are not paying any legal fees upfront, the insurance company also has a legal team. Their attorneys charge them for the advice they provide, the answers to each question, and the response to each offer. This drives up their cost of settling.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Soon After an Injury
The best way to settle your case quickly is to seek legal advice as soon as possible after you suffer an injury. While some people believe they are better off negotiating on their own behalf, insurance companies will take advantage of their lack of knowledge about personal injury law.
Insurance companies know you mean business when you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. They understand that most lawyers will not accept a case without merit and they know that they will need to find a way to resolve the differences between the settlement offer and what they want to pay.