How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
After a car accident or another injury-causing incident, it can take months or even years to settle your case. We know that many people are anxious to settle their injury claims. If you’re unable to work due to your injuries, the growing pile of medical bills and other expenses can feel overwhelming, and most people are eager to put the trauma behind them and move on. However, before you accept a quick settlement, you should always consider the long-term impact.
For most people, properly considering their options means consulting with an experienced injury attorney. At Crosley Law, our team aggressively pursues victims’ personal injury claims, even during the COVID-19 shutdown. We know that your case is important, and we work hard to get our clients the compensation and closure they deserve.
When Should I Settle My Claim?
After a wreck, the insurance company may pressure you to settle quickly and without a lawyer. However, that may not be in your best interest. It’s not a good idea to settle your claim until you truly understand the extent of your injuries, your ability to return to work, your future medical needs, and other factors.
Many victims wait until they reach “maximum medical improvement” or “MMI” before they settle. MMI occurs when your medical conditions will no longer improve with treatment, and you’ve reached your “new normal.” If you settle your case before you reach MMI, you may undervalue your claim by failing to include necessary medical care and rehabilitation costs in your settlement.
Understanding the Timeline of a Lawsuit
In most personal injury cases, settlement negotiations begin very early. There are three common stages in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Pre-Litigation: When your injury lawyer investigates your claims and begins to negotiate with the insurance adjuster
- Litigation: Your lawyer files a complaint with the court, which starts your lawsuit. During this stage, you’ll participate in discovery (a formal process where you share information with the other side), attend hearings, and continue settlement negotiations.
- Trial and Appeals: Your lawyer presents your evidence and arguments to a judge and jury. If either party disagrees with the verdict, they may be able to file a series of appeals.
Many victims don’t realize that cases can settle at any time, even during an appeal.
Settling Your Injury Claim Is Serious Business
When you settle an injury claim, you’re giving up your right to additional compensation — forever — in exchange for a lump payment. Once you settle, you can’t go back and demand more money, even if your condition worsens or you discover new evidence. That’s why it’s important to carefully investigate your claim, calculate your losses, and apply a strong legal strategy from the very beginning.
Your injury claims are unique. While there are some common issues we see in injury claims, like distracted driving, traumatic brain injuries, and back pain, every lawsuit has a unique story. That’s why our lawyers take time to get to know our clients and carefully investigate their claims. We often uncover facts that strengthen and change their claims, including:
- Additional insurance policies that cover their claims
- Medical evidence that explains their symptoms and connects them to the crash or incident
- Company records that document a culture of carelessness and safety violations
- Expert testimony that identifies the precise causes of a crash or incident and the extent of your injuries
- Other wrongdoers, like companies that made defective or dangerous products or bars that overserve drunk drivers
Then, we use this evidence to build compelling arguments, accurate settlement demands, and jury presentations.
4 Factors That Might Slow Your Settlement Down
Most injury claims settle in a few months to a year, although some take more or less time. Generally speaking, the more complex and catastrophic your injuries, the more time your claim will take.
At Crosley Law, we strive to handle our clients’ cases as efficiently as possible. However, some factors can slow down even the most efficient and aggressive lawyer.
1. You Need Extensive Medical Treatments and Multiple Surgeries
As we mentioned above, it can be risky to settle your case before you reach maximum medical improvement. If you’re facing a difficult recovery that involved intense rehabilitation, multiple surgeries, and complex medical issues, it will take longer to value your injuries properly. This also is true if you suffer complications, like a failed surgical repair or infections, during your recovery.
Your lawyer should carefully track your recovery, medical care, and your specific needs. They may also consult with medical and life planning experts to help speed up the process of assessing your injuries and calculating your damages.
2. There Are Legal or Factual Issues With Your Case
When an insurance company evaluates a claim and decides how much money it is willing to pay out, they carefully consider the facts and law surrounding a case. If the insurance company has defenses or your evidence is weak, the insurer will offer you a tiny settlement or deny your claim completely.
Other times, the insurer may question your credibility, claiming that you’re not as injured as you say. They may even hire private investigators to track your activities. Or, they’ll try to reduce your compensation through unfair victim-blaming.
You’ll need an experienced trial lawyer who knows how to respond to these allegations, build up your evidence, and fight back. Our team has seen almost every insurance company tactic in the book, from focusing on pre-existing conditions to hiring biased “independent” medical examiners. We can help you respond to these strategies and outmaneuver the insurance company.
3. You Have a High-Value Injury Claim
Small claims that involve minor injuries often settle quickly. However, when the insurance company knows you have an expensive claim, they’re more likely to use drastic measures and delay tactics to slow your claim down. Many times, catastrophic injury claims settle right before or during the trial.
In these cases, mediation and alternative dispute resolution are often beneficial. During mediation, a neutral party (usually a specially trained lawyer) will help the parties negotiate, looking for common ground. We’ve found that mediation is a powerful tool; Crosley Law has a history of mediating record-breaking settlements.
4. You’re Unrepresented
When you don’t have a lawyer, the insurance company has an advantage. Sometimes, they’ll draw out a claim by ordering countless medical records, sending you to multiple medical exams, and avoiding your phone calls, hoping that you’ll give up and take an unfair settlement.
“When you don’t have a lawyer, the insurance company has an advantage. Sometimes, they’ll draw out a claim by ordering countless medical records, sending you to multiple medical exams, and avoiding your phone calls, hoping that you’ll give up and take an unfair settlement.”
Crosley Law Values Efficiency and Understands You Need Help Now
At Crosley Law, we know that, no matter how “minor” your accident seemed, it’s dramatically changed your life. We pride ourselves in our attention to detail and efficiency. When you hire our injury law firm, we’ll immediately get to work. We’ll start by requesting your medical records, notifying the insurance company of your claims, and performing a careful investigation. We’ve settled complex injury claims in less than a year thanks to our cutting-edge techniques and work ethic.
Crosley Law: Fighting for San Antonio’s Accident Victims
If you’re ready to resolve your injury claim, our team can help you understand the settlement process and your legal options. Call Crosley Law today at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or fill out our quick and easy contact form. We’ll set up your free consultation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death. If you’ve been injured, fill out the form for a free consultation, or call 210-LAW-3000.