If you were injured in a personal injury accident that was not your fault, you may be eligible to pursue compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit. “How long will it take my personal injury case to settle?” is a common question many clients ask. Unfortunately, there’s no standard answer to this question since every case is unique and there are many factors that can impact when or if a case can be settled.
What to Expect When You Have a Personal Injury Case
Going through the personal injury claims process alone can be overwhelming for anyone who does not have extensive knowledge of personal injury law. In fact, accident victims will often have a much better chance of a successful claim once an insurance company learns they have hired legal representation. An attorney can handle all the paperwork, as well as all interactions with the insurance company, including settlement negotiations, which can be a very frustrating and time-consuming process. This will allow the client to focus on their recovery and have peace of mind knowing that their claim is in the very best hands.
The typical timeline for this legal process is as follows:
Contacting the Insurance Company
Once you’ve been injured in an accident, whether it’s a slip or fall, dog bite, or auto accident, a personal injury lawyer will contact the insurance carrier and open a legal claim. An insurance company will either accept liability for the accident or deny it. In other cases, they may still be investigating the accident and have not determined who was liable.
Investigating an Accident
To receive compensation, an attorney must prove the other party:
- Had a duty of care
- Breached their duty of care
- The accident victim was injured as a result of the negligent party’s breach of duty
If an attorney can prove these elements, the accident victim has a good chance of receiving the compensaiton they deserve.
During this time, a personal injury attorney will investigate the accident, gather and analyze evidence, and prepare to present their case to the insurance carrier if the claim is disputed.
During the course of the investigation, an attorney will gather persuasive evidence, including:
- Police crash report which details the police investigation
- Photos of the accident scene and of the injuries sustained
- Security footage, if available
- Eyewitness statements
- Expert witness statements
- Insurance documents
- Medical evidence detailing the physical injury sustained and required treatment
- Health insurance documents
- Billing statements to demonstrate medical expenses for treatment
Personal Injury Damages
In a personal injury compensation claim, you may be eligible to pursue economic damages and non-economic damages for all personal injury expenses.
These damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical costs
- Loss of earnings
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium
Your attorney will determine which damages you’re eligible to pursue and will estimate the value of your case based on many factors.
Valuing a Case
Once the accident victim has completed their medical treatment, an attorney will order all of their personal injury incident-related medical bills and records as they compile supporting documentation to put together a personal injury settlement demand packet, complete with the initial demand. Typically, initial demands are often much higher than what an attorney believes a case to be worth. Attorneys often base these estimates on a number of factors and variables, such as:
- The severity of the accident
- How the accident has impacted the injured party’s life
- The extent of injuries sustained
- Frequency and duration of treatment
- The cost of medical care
- Pain and suffering
- The treating physician’s prognosis
- Any out of pocket expenses
Negotiations are another major part of the personal injury claim process. An experienced injury lawyer will often wait for a period of two weeks to allow the insurance carrier to review the demand packet and follow up with a settlement offer. If the accident victim’s injuries were severe, the attorney may wait for up to thirty days for the insurance carrier to complete its evaluation. Once they have made their initial injury case settlement offer, the attorney will speak with the accident victim and get the approval to make a counteroffer. An attorney and an insurance company can go back and forth several times before the personal injury lawyer is able to procure the best offer, which they will then review with their client. If the accident victim wants to settle, it can take up to one month before they receive their financial compensation.
Average Settlement Length
How long it takes to settle a case will vary. The average time can range from as little as two months or as long as two years.
If the accident victim is not satisfied with the insurance adjuster’s settlement offer, they may wish to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit. Their attorney may recommend that they accept the settlement offer or agree that they should pursue compensation in the form of a personal injury lawsuit and present the case in front of a judge and jury. It can all depend on whether the attorney believes their client has a better chance of receiving a higher award in court, or if the settlement offer is fair.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
The personal injury lawsuit process is much more complex. If a case goes to trial, the litigation process can take years. In many cases, an insurance company will be more likely to offer a fair settlement once an attorney files a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact Lem Garcia Law Today
If you were injured in an accident and need legal services from an attorney with experience, the legal team at Lem Garcia Law can help. At our personal injury law firm, we offer free, no-obligation case strategy sessions. When you meet with us, we can discuss the facts surrounding your case, explain the settlement process, and answer any questions you may have. If you decide to work with our firm, we can begin an investigation right away and advocate on your behalf throughout the entire claims process. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free case strategy session.