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:
- Legalities or facts of the case are still in dispute.
- A substantial amount of money is at stake.
- 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.
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.
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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.