Is There a Definitive Answer to How Long Your Personal Injury Case Will Take?
Getting injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligence can result in extreme pain, stress, and financial worries. Frequently, victims must miss work until they have completed their recovery, and some individuals find themselves unable to return to the job they held before the accident. As treatment expenses and monthly bills begin to add up, you may be impatiently wondering how long it will take to settle your personal injury claim.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to these inquiries. The length of your case is dependent on the unique circumstances of your situation and can vary from a few weeks to over two years. A knowledgeable Tacoma personal injury lawyer can explain what you can expect during the process of filing a claim and which factors may impact when you may receive your settlement.
What Are the Stages of a Personal Injury Claim?
It is essential to familiarize yourself with the steps involved in a personal injury claim because it will help you understand how far you’ve come in the process and what you should expect as the case progresses. Insurance companies will frequently offer victims lowball settlements early in the claims process because they know many families feel the pressure of mounting bills and may be inclined to take whatever they can get right away to pay their expenses.
However, accepting less than your claim is worth can lead to financial trouble in the long run.
Patience is vital when pursuing a personal injury claim. Your lawyer should provide frequent updates on the status of your case so you are well informed and have the opportunity to ask questions. There are five main stages that a personal injury case can go through, but because over 97% of claims are resolved without going to trial, your case may only involve some of the following steps.
You should speak with a trusted lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. They can evaluate your claim, determine its potential value, and provide advice on the next steps you should take. Once you retain a lawyer, they can begin contacting the insurer(s), filing claims, investigating the accident, and handling other aspects of the case on your behalf while you focus on healing. Promptly contacting a lawyer also ensures that your claim will be filed within the state’s statute of limitations and protects your legal right to seek compensation for your losses.
Your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company that provides fair compensation for your losses from the accident. The length of the negotiation can depend on the strength of the evidence and the value of your claim. As part of this process, a demand letter will be sent to the defendant’s insurer to inform them of your intent to seek compensation through the court system should an agreement not be reached. In many cases, the negotiation stage is successful, and a mutually agreeable settlement is reached.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you are unable to negotiate an agreement with the at-fault party and their insurer, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against them in civil court. Sometimes, filing a lawsuit is necessary in order to have your claim reviewed by the at-fault party’s insurance company’s attorney and a more senior adjuster.
Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean your case will go to trial. In most cases, the negotiations process is constantly on-going.
The discovery process involves both sides gathering evidence, exchanging documents, and taking depositions from witnesses to build their cases. This step can take six to twelve months or more. During this time, your legal team may continue negotiations or engage in mediation to settle the case before a trial begins.
Getting your trial scheduled in the proper jurisdiction can take time, but once it starts, it often proceeds very quickly. The judge or jury will render a verdict based on whether or not they believe your case is proven by a preponderance of the evidence. If the court rules in your favor, they will determine the compensation the at-fault party must pay. Both sides have the right to appeal if they disagree with the trial’s outcome.
What Factors Can Extend the Length of a Personal Injury Case?
Your lawyers know that you want your case to come to a satisfactory conclusion as quickly as possible. However, it’s an unfortunate reality that some cases take longer than others to complete.
Common reasons for a lengthy settlement process can include:
- Complex claims: Many issues can make a claim more complicated, including multiple defendants, many insurers, and challenges in clearly proving negligence. These are not insurmountable obstacles to your claim, but they may require your lawyers to spend extra time investigating or negotiating your case to achieve the best possible outcome.
- Waiting for maximum medical improvement: Once you have accepted a settlement, you cannot go back and try to recover further compensation if you have more costs related to your accident. If you have serious injuries, you will want to avoid settling until your medical treatment is complete or you have reached a stable point in your recovery where your future medical expenses can be accurately calculated.
- Large damages: High-value cases often take longer to reach a conclusion because defendants tend to fight them more strenuously. Strong representation from an experienced lawyer can be vital to recovering just compensation in these cases.
How Can Our Law Firm Assist You?
While it can feel frustrating to wait, having patience with the personal injury claim process can lead to a better long-term outcome than simply agreeing to a hasty settlement. For tailored information regarding the potential timeline for your specific case, we recommend scheduling a free consultation with one of our helpful personal injury lawyers today. Call South Sound Law Group at 253-383-3328 to set up your no-obligation case evaluation.