It is impossible to predict how long a personal injury claim or lawsuit will take to resolve. Sometimes a claim can be settled out-of-court in a few months, while others go to trial and may take more than a year.
The most important thing to remember is that your attorney will always advocate for your best interests and ensure you understand the unpredictability of the timeline needed to secure fair compensation. Although individual cases vary in the time necessary to conclude, they are all subject to a similar process and require specific tasks to get there. However, some claims will require more steps than others to ensure all options for restitution have been exhausted.
The Process for Securing Compensation in a Personal Injury Claim
It can be vital for an attorney to take as much time as needed to navigate the system effectively while avoiding cutting corners whenever possible. All legal cases are unique, and attorneys must strategically follow specific processes to reach a favorable outcome.
The time and number of steps it takes to secure compensation depends on many factors, including your case’s complexity and the severity of your injuries. However, the process for a typical personal injury case might look like the following:
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Initial Steps After an Accident
Before you proceed with legal actions after an accident, it is vital to seek the medical care you need for your injuries, even if they seem minor. Your initial emergency room or hospital visit will be the impetus for your claim, as it establishes that you did suffer injuries, now evidenced by medical records. In addition, overseeing medical professionals can determine the cause of your injuries and what treatment you may require now and in the future.
Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer
You should consult an attorney who handles personal injury cases once your health condition is relatively stable. If you contact our law office, we can further explain the claims timeline and what you might expect. We will investigate your case, and collect evidence, such as police reports or medical records, to help prove liability and what damages you have suffered and may sustain in the future.
Waiting Until You Have Fully Recovered
Your attorney may advise you to wait to settle your claim until you have recovered from your condition and cannot be expected to improve further. This is because you will have a much better understanding of what damages you will need to pursue and their value. Waiting this out can take significant time but ensuring your claim accounts for all your past and future expenses is vital. Moreover, if you later encounter more medical bills not included in your claim, you will not be entitled to compensation to cover them.
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Negotiating with an Insurance Company
The goal of an insurance settlement is to secure the money you need to pay for all your injury-related personal, financial, and legal expenses. After your attorney has identified and calculated your losses, they can present a demand letter to the liable party’s insurance company asking for compensation. If the insurer does not agree to this initial demand, they will make a counteroffer. If you do not accept this, you will respond with another counteroffer.
Negotiations will continue back and forth as long as necessary to reach a consensus, which can take several weeks or months. In many cases, the parties eventually agree on an amount to save the time and expense of going to trial. In other situations, however, a settlement cannot be reached, and the injured party decides to pursue a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit and Going to Trial
The injury survivor (the plaintiff) can file a civil lawsuit against the liable party (the defendant). They can do this regardless of whether they have already attempted to settle with the insurer. The defendant will be served with a formal complaint, and their insurance company will be tasked with delegating an attorney to defend their case. Even after a lawsuit is initiated, there is time to settle if the parties agree to negotiate further.
The pretrial phase includes a discovery phase in which attorneys share information relevant to the case, according to the American Bar Association (ABA). In addition, the parties may be legally mandated to attend mediation at this time. This is a meeting intended to encourage the parties to settle before trial. The mediator can make settlement recommendations and help reconcile the parties’ offers and counteroffers with each other.
A court date will be set if the parties still cannot settle. Personal injury trials are expected to last just a few days, but some can take longer. If the verdict is in your favor, the defendant may appeal, which can take several months or more to resolve. If their appeal is successful, you may have to go through another trial.
Get Help with Your Case from a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Due to the many factors involved, it is impossible to determine precisely how long a personal injury claim will take to resolve. However, an attorney can provide insight and give you an idea of your case’s complexity and which legal options might be more time-intensive than others.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Schiller & Hamilton today for a free consultation. We can review your case and explain the timeline and process of securing compensation for your personal injury.