How Long Will It Take to Resolve A Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury victims are often eager to resolve their case so they can use the money from the settlement or verdict to pay their medical bills and focus all of their attention on their recovery. For this reason, many clients often ask during the initial consultation how long it will take to resolve their case. This is a difficult question for any personal injury attorney to answer since there are so many factors that could affect the time it takes to wrap up the case. Here’s a look at some of the factors that could cause your personal injury case to drag on longer than expected:
Going to Trial
Only about 5% of all personal injury cases make it to trial—the rest are resolved through settlements that are negotiated out of the courtroom. Cases that are settled outside of the courtroom are typically resolved much faster than those that go to trial. If you end up going to trial, it’s important to understand that this means it could be months or even years before you recover compensation.
The value of your claim can also affect how long it takes to resolve your case. If you are not seeking a significant amount of compensation, the at-fault party’s insurance company should be willing to work with you to resolve the case quickly. However, insurance adjusters will be far more careful in high-value cases. They will painstakingly review all of the evidence to look for weaknesses in your case that could lower the value of your claim. Reviewing evidence can be time-consuming, especially if the insurance adjuster attempts to discredit the records or witness testimony that you have provided. The insurance adjuster will typically not make a large offer to you unless he is absolutely certain that after reviewing the evidence, there is no way for him to dispute liability or the legitimacy of your injuries.
Length of Recovery
A personal injury attorney will not initiate negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company until you have reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI. You will reach MMI when a doctor has determined that you should not expect your condition to improve any further in the future. Some victims will be fully recovered when they have reached MMI, but others will not. For example, a victim with a broken bone will be completely healed when the doctor determines they have reached MMI, but a victim with a traumatic brain injury may still experience symptoms that are not expected to improve when they have reached MMI.
Your attorney will not be able to accurately calculate the value of your claim until you have reached MMI. Using the example above, the victim with the broken bone probably will not be entitled to any damages for future expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering, however the victim with a brain injury will. A personal injury attorney cannot determine if you should receive damages for your future expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering until you have reached MMI. In addition, it’s impossible to estimate how much compensation you are entitled to for your medical expenses before you have completed treatment. Therefore, the longer that it takes for you to reach MMI, the longer it will take to resolve your personal injury case.
Insurance adjusters know that some personal injury victims are eager to recover compensation. These victims have massive medical bills and may not be able to work and earn an income due to their injuries. Instead of showing compassion, insurance adjusters often use stall tactics to delay the case further. They may request additional documents that they claim they need to review before making an offer or they may start off with an incredibly low offer so you are forced to engage in lengthy negotiations. Some insurance adjusters will continue to delay the case in anyway possible in order to see if you are wiling to give in and accept an offer that is much lower than you deserve. However, a good personal injury attorney should be able to prevent these tactics from affecting your case.
Every type of personal injury case has its own complexities, but there are some that are typically more challenging than others. Medical malpractice, product liability, and truck accident cases tend to be more complicated than others. In these cases, expert witnesses often have to be called in to provide testimony that supports your version of events. Multiple parties could be to blame in these cases, which is another reason why they are usually more complex. Dealing with one insurance company is hard enough, but it becomes even more difficult with multiple insurance companies involved. In general, the more complex a case it, the longer it will take to resolve.
Disputes Over Liability
Sometimes, the insurance adjuster will immediately accept that their policyholder is to blame for the accident. But, if the insurance adjuster is not convinced that the policyholder is to blame, this could affect the time it takes to resolve your case. An insurance adjuster will not even think about negotiating a settlement if they are not certain that their policyholder is to blame. It is up to your attorney to present evidence that clearly shows the other party was at fault, but building this type of case takes time. If liability is being questioned, you should expect a delay in your case.
If you have been injured due to the negligent acts of another person, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman right away. Our personal injury attorneys will work tirelessly to recover the compensation that you deserve as quickly as possible. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with our team of knowledgeable lawyers.
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