If you have been injured in an accident, you may have decided to hire legal representation while dealing with medical issues and loss of income, to get some of the stress off your shoulders. As the paperwork gets finalized and the claim gets filed, some questions may be running through your mind: when will my personal injury claim finally get settled and when will I get compensated?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to have a single universal answer that will satisfy everyone who has filed a personal injury case. This is because every case is different and your injuries and losses will not be the same as anybody else’s.
What is the biggest factor affecting the timeline of your case?
Although many factors play a role in how these cases proceed and how fast they settle, the single most important factor deciding how long a claim will take is the extent and severity of your injuries. If your injuries can be classified as minor, you may find that your case settles in a matter of months. If your injuries are extensive, complicated, and you are still in the midst of receiving medical treatment, you may be looking at years before the case settles.
Should you receive an offer and decide to settle while you are still in the process of recovering your health, you may regret doing so in the future when you confirm that the amount you received was insufficient to cover your medical expenses.
Once you have either fully recovered or reached the point that is considered your maximum improvement, your doctor will have a clearer idea of how these injuries will impact the rest of your life. In some cases, you may yet be referred to a surgeon or a specialist, which will make the process longer and increase the money needed to treat your injuries. Having all this information will also help your attorney better estimate the compensation you should seek.
So, although you may feel as if everyone around you is dragging their feet, the reality is that there is simply more information that needs to be gathered before the case can settle.
Should you wait to file until you are fully healed?
Although, in theory, it would make sense to wait until you are either completely healed or have reached your maximum improvement, another factor needs to be taken into consideration in personal injury claims. That is the statute of limitations, which dictates how much time you have to file a claim from the moment you are injured.
In many states, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. And even though this may seem like plenty of time, your injuries may call for a protracted treatment. Also, there are certain steps that your personal injury attorney should follow to build a strong case on your behalf, and that takes time as well. That is why it is crucial to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident so that time will be on your side and not against you.
Are there other factors that can affect the time it takes for a personal injury claim to settle?
Several other factors also impact the length of time that your case may take to settle. Among them:
Factual or Legal Problems
If there are conflicts with the facts of your case, the settlement may take longer. Some of these conflicts may be cleared up through an investigation, which takes time. Your lawyer may find that they need to obtain medical bills and records, treatment notes from your physicians, results of diagnostic images, and other medical details. Additionally, it may be necessary to gather reports from accident reconstruction specialists, witness testimonies, photographs of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and the injuries, as well as all information that will back up your claim of financial hardship.
This may include information on your employment and the wages you have lost, bonuses you have not received, and other financial statements. All this information should obviously be framed by the parameters that medical specialists have set for when your maximum possible recovery can be expected.
Large Settlement Amount
Suppose your injuries are so extensive that the medical bills associated with your treatment involve large sums of money. In that case, it is likely that the insurance company will take longer to settle your claim. They may drag their feet and make you a lowball offer that both you and your attorney consider unacceptable, or they may argue that they need more time to conduct their own investigations. In any case, there may be limits imposed by the existing policies as well as reward caps marked by the laws in your state. However, your personal injury lawyer will fight to make sure you receive fair compensation.
Filing a Lawsuit
You and your personal injury lawyer may have reached a point where no further negotiations are possible with the insurance company and have concluded that the best way to move forward is to file a lawsuit.
If this is your case, personal injury lawyers Wattel and York want to remind you that most cases end up settling out of court. However, if there is no other option available to you because the insurance company is either stalling or denying your claim, filing a lawsuit and going to court will certainly contribute to the length of time your case will take to reach a conclusion.
The best recommendation at this point is to be patient in order to make sure you receive fair compensation. And if you are still dealing with the aftermath of the accident, it will pay to concentrate your focus on recovering your health while your lawyer keeps on fighting on your behalf. In the end, there is nothing more important than your health because it can have a huge impact on your future.