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Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal Injury Lawsuit

How Long do Personal Injury Cases Typically Take Before a Settlement is Reached?

If you have a personal injury claim that you are seeking to settle, it may not be smart to rush it because your compensation may be less than fair.

But what if you don’t relish the idea of your case dragging on month-after-month, year-after- year? If you’re wondering if there is any way to get your case settled quickly, even if that means agreeing to less money, we would have to say yes. But what we won’t say is that this would be a good idea.

Of course, you can reach a quick settlement on a personal injury claim if you’re willing to accept a lot less money than you deserve. You need to think about how much money you’ll be walking away from and if you’re going to need that money to take care of yourself after being injured.

There are reasons why it might take longer than expected to reach a settlement. Let’s discuss these and why it probably makes sense for you to think long and hard before accepting a quick offer.

Why Do Personal Injury Cases Drag Out So Long Before Settling?

The three primary reasons for this are as follows:

  1. Legalities or facts of the case are still in dispute.
  2. A substantial amount of money is at stake.
  3. Victim has not completed treatment or reached maximum medical improvement.

If any or all of these issues are holding your case up, it will take time for it to all play out. To speed things up you would have to agree to accept a fraction of what you would otherwise be entitled to in compensation.

Upon close examination, you can see that these involve highly complex issues:

Legalities or Facts of the Case are in Dispute

What legalities or facts are usually in dispute? The amount of compensation a victim in a personal injury case is legally entitled to depends on two things: who is liable and what the damages are. It basically comes down to whose fault it was and the seriousness of the injuries.

If statements from the parties involved and multiple witnesses are at odds, then it’s not going to be easy proving liability. In a case like this, the insurance company will not offer the victim a reasonable settlement. But if you have an aggressive attorney who is willing to go to court and steps up and files a lawsuit, their attitude may change. It would change even further if your liability experts can show that the defendant (their policyholder) was at fault. However, if the legalities of your case are in question that could be a problem. For example, if the insurance company thinks that you have no legal standing to sue, then they will wait for a judge to rule on that issue before making an offer.

Also, there could be some question about damages. For example, your doctors may not be convinced that your injuries were caused by any negligence on the part of the defendant. The insurance company will never make you a fair settlement offer until they know that your lawyer can put a doctor on the stand who will unequivocally state that the defendant is responsible for your injuries.

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A Lot of Money is Involved

Another issue that often causes a personal injury case to drag out is when it involves quite a bit of money. Insurance companies are not going to make a big payout until they have thoroughly researched your claims.

They will investigate every last detail of your case until they have no choice but to believe that:

  • They have no plausible defense
  • Your injuries are every bit as serious as you claim
  • You and your credibility are above reproach

Furthermore, insurance companies often put off settling big cases hoping the plaintiff gets worn down enough to accept a lot less money than they deserve. Many claimants do not have the financial resources to wait an indefinite period of time to be compensated. Insurance companies are well aware of this and they can afford to wait. 

Your Treatment is Not Complete So Your Condition May Improve

One more reason that it may take much longer than you’d hoped to get your claim settled is that you are still undergoing medical treatment. As long as your doctors are continuing treatment, there is reason to hope your condition will improve. If you have the financial means to wait, it would not be wise to accept a settlement on your personal injury case until your doctors have informed you that you have now reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

This means that you have recovered from your injuries as much as it is medically possible. Once you have reached this point in your recovery you and your attorneys can now determine what a fair settlement would be for your injuries. As long as you are still undergoing treatment, the magnitude of your injuries cannot be fully known or how extensive an impact they will have on your life. So, it really is impossible to accurately determine what a fair settlement would be.

Settling for Less

What happens if you know that you could receive a considerable settlement for your injuries if you could just wait it out, but you really cannot afford to. How do you figure out what you could realistically get if you settled now?

The insurance industry calls these “short settlements.” Typically, the insurance company would offer 30% to 40% of what they might offer you if you could wait until the day before you were set to go to trial. If you’ve been injured and have grounds for a personal injury case, but do not want a long legal process, it would be best to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney. This way you would receive expert advice on your particular case and understand the risk you would be taking by accepting a quick settlement.

The goal at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP to bring justice to those who have been harmed by the wrongdoing of others by seeking full compensation for their losses.  We retain the finest engineers, physicians and other experts to obtain the highest possible recoveries.  We are proud to play a role in keeping the justice system strong by protecting the rights of the individual.  We are results driven attorneys who bring a strong combination of education, experience, and practical knowledge to the representation of our clients.

If you have been seriously injured due to someone else's negligence, contact a personal injury attorney at the law offices of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley today. We provide free consultations in order to evaluate your case and discuss the legal options available to you.

(Source: 1 )

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP. The information presented in this article is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.


Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal Injury Lawsuit

Should you become injured or harmed in some way due to the negligence or actions of another, you may be legally entitled to compensation from the responsible party. Unfortunately, this often requires the filing of a personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits take time and typically go through a number of stages before winding up in court.

Here’s what typically happens at each stage of a personal injury case before it finally lands in civil court:

Seek Medical Care

After being hurt in an accident, you need to immediately seek medical treatment. This comes first before anything else. Go right to the hospital or make sure you’re seen by a doctor. You need to do this for your health and wellbeing. If you wait to see a doctor long after the accident, the insurance company and the jury might simply assume that your injuries weren’t that serious.

Find a Good Attorney

Unless your injuries are fairly minor, you will need to find yourself a lawyer. You should do this as soon as you can after being injured. Settling a small personal injury claim by yourself may not be a problem, although legal representation can be helpful even for small claims. However, if you suffered substantial injuries and/or other losses you will definitely need a good lawyer by your side to handle your personal injury claim.

How do you know if your claim is big enough to warrant an attorney? Generally speaking, you really should hire an attorney if the accident caused a broken bone, forced you to miss work for longer than a couple of days, and/or your medical bills are over $2,000.

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Before hiring an attorney, you should speak to several over the phone before meeting with them in person. Once you’ve chosen the lawyer you have the most confidence in, you will be asked to sign the fee agreement before he/she can begin handling your case.

Claim is Investigated by Your Attorney

Your lawyer will first want to thoroughly investigate your claim, which will start with them asking you all sorts of questions. You will be asked about your background, to explain what happened in the accident, the extent of your injuries and the medical treatment you received. Your attorney will make sure he/she finds out everything you know so there are no surprises down the road. It’s important that you provide every last detail when answering all questions.

Next, your lawyer will seek to obtain all your medical records, including bills that relate to the injuries suffered in the accident. He/she will likely request all medical records involving any treatments you’ve ever received related to the medical condition in question. This could take several months.

Once your lawyer obtains all your medical records, he/she will review them all to determine whether you have a case. If your lawyer believes that you don’t have a case, you’ll probably be notified as soon as this determination is made.

Your Attorney Weighs the Options

If your personal injury claim is smaller than most, it could be settled before you even have to file a lawsuit. If your attorney believes that they can get your case settled, they will go ahead and make a demand on the opposing side’s lawyer or on their insurance company.

If not, your lawyer will have no choice but to file a lawsuit. If you’ve been permanently injured or impaired, it is very unlikely that your attorney would settle the case before filing a lawsuit. 

Also, a good attorney would never make a demand until the victim has recovered to the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is when the victim has completed their treatment and recovered to the point that no further improvement is possible. Until the victim reaches MMI, his/her attorney has no idea what they are entitled to in terms of compensation.

Any good attorney would also wait until MMI before filing a lawsuit because if the victim has not yet reached MMI when the case goes to court, the jury award may not be sufficient.

Even though it could take months or even years before the victim reaches MMI, a good attorney will wait as long as the victim can afford to financially. However, if the victim needs the money, their lawyer would file the lawsuit as soon as possible.

Filing the Lawsuit

Once the lawsuit is filed, the clock starts ticking down on when the case would be set for trial. Each state has its own pretrial procedures, but it typically takes one or two years before the trial would start in a personal injury case. There are legal time limits in each state for filing a lawsuit, which are determined by the statute of limitations.


Discovery is the process whereby each side investigates the other side’s legal claims and how they plan on defending their case. Each side requests documents from the opposing side as well as answers to their questions. They also take depositions of important witnesses, usually starting with the plaintiff (victim) and the defendant in the case. Discovery can take up to a year since it depends on how complex the case is and the deadlines set by the court.

Settlement Discussions

When the discovery process comes to an end, lawyers on both sides typically start discussing a settlement. Often times, they can reach a settlement through these discussions, but sometimes they agree to mediation. This is a process whereby both parties and their attorneys go before a mediator to present their case in an attempt to reach a settlement

Going to Trial

Mediation is often effective in reaching a settlement. But if not, a trial date is set for hearing arguments before a judge and jury. Personal injury trials can be over in just one day, or last up to a week or longer. However, in states where they only hold trials in half-day morning sessions, the trial can last much longer. While this doubles how long trials last, it gives lawyers and judges time to get other work done during afternoon hours.

Regarding this timeline, although a lawsuit may be set for trial on a specific date, that does not necessarily mean that the case will actually go to trial on the scheduled date. Judges have very busy schedules, so it’s not unusual for trials to be delayed due to rescheduling. If this happens in your case, do not jump to the conclusion that the lawyers are deliberately dragging things out or that your case is in jeopardy. Trial dates are cancelled all the time, and often for reasons that seem to make no sense.

O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP is a personal injury law firm serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our attorneys represent clients in a wide array of serious personal injury claims.

The partners at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley have more than 50 years of experience protecting the rights of victims. We have successfully negotiated thousands of cases and have tried and presided over more than 250 jury trials. Our experience and courtroom skills are unparalleled. Let us put this experience, knowledge and expertise to work for you.

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP. The information presented in this article is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.

(Source: 1 )

The statute of limitations states how much time you have to file a lawsuit if you’ve been wronged. The law requires most lawsuits to be filed within a specified time frame. Generally speaking, once the statute of limitation passes, your claim is no longer legally valid.

The length of time you have to file a lawsuit depends on which type of legal claim you’re making.

Personal Injury Claims

If you’re making a personal injury claim, you have a full 2 years from the date you were injured to file your lawsuit. However, if you did not realize you were injured right away, then you are given 1 year from the date you discovered your injury.

Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims
Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims

Claims Against the Government

If you’re making a claim against a governmental agency, you are allowed 6 months, or for certain types of cases, 1 year of when the incident occurred to file your claim with that agency. If the agency denies your claim, you can file a lawsuit in court. However, there are certain limits on when this must be done. Please read the information below on Claims Against Governmental Agencies, then read the chart below on the laws regarding statute of limitations.

Claims Against Governmental Agencies

If you intend to sue a governmental agency, you are required to file an “administrative claim” with that particular governmental agency or office before you actually file your lawsuit in court. The government has a special form that must be used when filing the claim.

  • If this is a personal property damage claim or personal injury claim, you have a 6-month window for filing your administrative claim from the date of the damage or injury. However, there are a number of exceptions to this, which you can read about in California Government Code section 905 and section 911.2 plus it would be in your best interests to speak to an attorney.
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Once your claim has been filed with the proper governmental office or agency, they must respond in writing within 45 days. If they respond by denying your claim, you are allowed 6 months from the date you received the denial (in the mail or via personal delivery) to file your lawsuit in court. If you do not receive a denial letter, you’re allowed 2 years from the day of the occurrence to file your lawsuit.

But you cannot rely on having a full 2 years to file your lawsuit because the statute of limitations regarding governmental claims is quite complicated. Speak to an attorney if there is any doubt in your mind about how long you actually have to get your lawsuit filed. The Law Firm of O’Connor, Runckel and O’Malley will provide you with a free consultation and may even be willing to represent you on your case.

What if the statute of limitations is tolled?

There are times when the statute of limitations gets tolled (suspended) for a period of time before it starts running again. In cases in which the defendant is in prison, a minor, legally insane, or out of state, tolling may occur. When the justification for the tolling is over, (when the defendant is released from prison, turns 18, is declared legally sane, comes back to California), the statute of limitations begins running again.

Cases in which tolling is an issue are very complicated, so it is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you review and fully understand the laws that pertain to your specific issue since there may be other more applicable laws pertaining to the facts of your case or even exceptions. Speak to an attorney to ensure that you have a full understanding of the statute of limitations that pertains to your particular case.

Type of Case (or Problem)

Period of Time in Which You May File a Lawsuit or Have a Lawsuit Filed Against You

Person is injured: The defendant injured you whether intending to or not. For example, an assault or battery, wrongful death, personal injury accident, negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent act, or wrongful act, and etc. See California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1.

2 years from the date the injury occurred.

Against governmental offices or agencies: In a case like this you must file an “administrative claim” with that exact governmental agency or office before you can file a lawsuit in court. A special governmental form must be used in filing your claim.

If the governmental office or agency:

  • Responds within 45 days by denying your claim, you can file your lawsuit in court within 6 months of receiving the denial letter in the mail or by personal delivery. See Government Code sections 912.4, 912.6.
  • Fails to respond within 45 days to your claim, you have 2 years from the occurrence to file your lawsuit in court. Government Code section 945.6 (a)(2).
  • You are advised to consult with an experienced lawyer to ensure that you file your administrative claim and your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expire.

6 months from when the injury occurred to file your administrative claim.

When you’re allowed to file a lawsuit in court depends on whether the governmental office or agency denied your claim or failed to respond to it. If you do not get a response regarding your claim, speak to an attorney to find out when the deadline is for filing a lawsuit.


O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley LLP is a highly experienced personal injury law firm that serves the people of the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our lawyers represent clients in many different types of personal injury claims.

The law partners at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley have over 50 years of experience representing victims and protecting their rights. We take pride in having negotiated very generous settlements on thousands of cases while having presided over and tried over 250 cases before juries. Our vast experience and courtroom tactics are unparalleled. We can put our knowledge, experience and tactics to work to see that you prevail in your case.

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP. The information presented in this article is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.

O'Connor, Runckel and O'Malley LLP would like to announce our 2019 law school scholarship recipient, Kristina Nakao. Kristina received her Political Science B.A., Magna Cum Laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles. Upon graduation, she worked as a Legal Assistant at a family law firm assisting in dissolution matters. Kristina is committed to serving the Asian and Pacific Islander community and is a volunteer with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Kristina is currently a first year law student at the University of San Diego School of Law.

2019 Law School Scholarship Recipient
Kristina Nakao

We look forward to seeing Kristina succeed in her upcoming years at the University of San Diego School of Law.

According to the California Highway Patrol, this powerful head-on collision resulted in “catastrophic damage.”

The California Highway Patrol has reported that two people have died so far, and five others were badly hurt in an apparent wrong-way crash that occurred in the early hours of the morning last Sunday, not far from Orinda.

Although the investigation is still in the early stages, it is suspected that the male driving a Saturn Vue was traveling east in the westbound lanes of Highway 24 between Fish Ranch Rd. and Wilder Rd. when his vehicle crashed head-on into the Toyota Camry, the CHP reported. 

The CHP said that a male passenger riding in the Saturn Vue was pronounced dead by first responders at the scene. The Saturn’s driver was rushed to a local hospital, where he later died.

The Toyota was carrying five males, all apparently in their 20s, when the two cars collided. They all sustained major injuries and were taken to various local hospitals, according to the CHP.

The CHP reported that the Saturn’s driver may have been driving with alcohol and/or drugs in his system when the cars collided. The Toyota’s driver was not under suspicion of driving under the influence.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Wrong Way Car Crash Wrongful Death
Wrong Way Car Crash Wrongful Death

Anyone who witnessed or has information about this car crash is asked to reach out to the Contra Costa CHP by calling (925) 646-4980.

Wrong Way Driving accidents in the U.S. each year cause the deaths of 300 to 400 people, which accounts for about 1% of the number of fatalities in traffic accidents annually. This may seem like a small percentage, but since crashes involving a wrong-way driver are head-on or sideswipe crashes going the opposite direction at high speeds, they tend to be far more severe than other types of traffic accidents.  

Wrong way driving results from drivers entering onto a freeway or highway from an exit ramp going the wrong way. It can also result from a driver losing control and/or crossing the center divider into the traffic lanes going the opposite way. Accidents resulting from wrong way drivers is a constant problem on roadways in the U.S.

A wrongful death is defined as a death resulting from the intentional, careless, reckless or negligent act of someone else or even a corporation. Every state in the U.S. guarantees victims’ children and families the right to compensation in the event of a wrongful death.

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The Law Firm of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley has more than 50 years of experience litigating or taking wrongful death cases to court. Our track record of gaining substantial settlements and winning in court proves our expertise. If you or a family member has been victimized by motor vehicle negligence it could be of great benefit to talk with a Bay Area attorney who specializes in auto accidents, so please contact us. We will listen to what happened, answer any questions you have while explaining your legal rights and how best to protect them.

(Source: 1 )

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP