One of the most common questions accident victims have when they meet with a personal injury lawyer is when will my injury case settle. It is understandable that you would be concerned about the timeline for your personal injury case. You may have medical bills that need to be paid, or you may have been out of work for weeks or months recovering from your injuries.
Our personal injury lawyers understand your feelings and concerns. We want to get you the most money possible for your personal injury claim as quickly as possible. However, certain factors impact how quickly your personal injury case can be resolved.
Let’s review some of the things that must be resolved before we can settle your personal injury claim.
Factors That Impact the Timeline of Your Personal Injury Case
Understanding the following factors may not make the time go by faster, but it can help you understand what must happen before you can recover a fair settlement for your personal injury claim.
Maximum Medical Improvement
One of the most significant factors in the timeline of your personal injury case is your medical treatment. It is never wise to settle an injury claim before you complete your medical treatment. Until your doctor is ready to declare that you reached maximum medical improvement, it is impossible to know the extent and severity of your injuries.
Maximum medical improvement is the point in your recovery when your doctor states that no further improvement is expected. For some accident victims, maximum medical improvement is a full recovery.
For instance, suppose you broke your leg in a car accident. After surgery and physical therapy, your doctor states that you have made a full recovery.
Let’s assume you sustained a spine injury in a motorcycle accident. After surgery and months of physical therapy, your doctor states that you have reached maximum medical improvement. However, you still experience pain, have trouble standing, and have limited range of motion.
Your doctor issues an impairment rating because you sustained a permanent disability. You can work, but your work may be limited. Therefore, you can include a claim for compensation for the permanent back injury and future loss of income or diminished earning capacity.
Suppose you had settled your personal injury claim before you completed medical treatment. In that case, you most likely would have received a settlement amount that was far below the actual value of your injury claim.
Investigating the Cause of the Injury
To recover money from another party for damages caused by an injury, you must have evidence proving the other party was responsible for the accident or incident that caused your injury. Depending on the type of personal injury case and the facts of the case, it could take months or over a year to complete the investigation.
For example, in a complex product liability claim, we may work with experts who must evaluate the product to determine how it caused your injury. We must then gather evidence proving that the manufacturer or other party is responsible for the defect that resulted in your injury. That evidence often involves proving how the defect occurred, which can be a complicated, lengthy process.
On the other hand, if a driver hits a pedestrian, there could be a traffic camera video of the pedestrian accident. If so, liability may not be an issue. In that case, an extensive investigation is not necessary, so the claim might settle quickly after the person reaches maximum medical improvement.
Another factor that could arise during the investigation is allegations of comparative fault. The other party or insurance company might state that you are partially to blame for your injury. For example, you were speeding at the time that the truck accident occurred. Therefore, you are partially responsible for causing the truck accident.
According to Florida’s comparative fault laws, you are not entitled to full compensation for your damages if you contributed to the cause of your injury. Your compensation is reduced by the percentage of your fault for the accident.
If the other party tries to shift the blame to you for the cause of your injury, it could take longer to investigate and gather evidence proving you were not to blame for the cause of the accident.
The Response to a Settlement Demand
Negotiating a settlement with an insurance company for a personal injury claim can be a slow process.
The insurance company may be slow to respond to a settlement demand. It may request additional information or documents before making a decision regarding your settlement demand. A settlement demand package could be hundreds or thousands of pages of documents.
The demand letter outlines the facts of the case and the argument for fault and liability. The attorney describes the damages and the amount you are willing to accept to settle the case. The other documents are generally medical records and other evidence that supports your claim.
The parties may correspond for several weeks as they make counteroffers and demands. In some cases, the parties may meet to have face-to-face settlement negotiations. When negotiations fail, the parties may agree to mediation to try to settle the claim without the necessity of going to court.
If the insurance company is acting in bad faith or refuses to negotiate a fair settlement amount, your lawyer may proceed with a lawsuit. Also, if the statute of limitations (deadline for filing a lawsuit) is about to expire, your attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit to protect your legal rights.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Most personal injury cases settle without going to court. However, there are cases in which filing a lawsuit and taking the matter to court is the only way to protect your right to fair compensation for economic damages and non-economic damages.
A personal injury lawsuit could take a year or longer to complete. There are several phases of the lawsuit that must be completed before the case can go to trial, such as the discovery phase and pre-trial motions. The court’s schedule also impacts how quickly a case moves through the judicial system.
The Bottom Line – Each Personal Injury Case is Unique
An experienced personal injury lawyer will tell you that rushing to settle your injury claim could result in losing thousands of dollars in compensation. It can be extremely frustrating to wait for the money you deserve after being injured by a negligent or careless person.
An insurance claims adjuster may offer you a quick settlement before you talk with a lawyer. Be cautious of quick settlement offers. The insurance company may be trying to obtain a settlement agreement before you understand the full extent of your injuries and damages.
Once you sign a settlement agreement, your case is closed. You cannot go back to demand more money or file a personal injury lawsuit, even if you discover additional injuries or damages.
Settlement agreements prepared by insurance providers are designed to favor the at-fault parties. The agreements release all parties from all claims, known and unknown. Before signing a settlement agreement for your personal injury claim, it would benefit you to obtain legal advice regarding your rights and options for settling your claim.
Call Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you have questions about a personal injury claim, contact our office to schedule your free case review with a Miami personal injury attorney. Discuss specific issues that impact how long it will take to settle your personal injury case in a no-obligation, free consultation with a lawyer.