Okay –- you’ve been negligently injured, you’ve been unable to work, medical bills are draining your bank account and now you want justice. You talk to a personal injury attorney and together you decide to file a lawsuit to best protect your legal and financial rights. Everything is moving right along and now you have one big question:
How long do I have to wait for my settlement?
Legitimate question, one that’s put to injury attorneys every day.
You have a right to ask. You have a right to know. And the answer is…
“IT TAKES HOW LONG IT TAKES!”
Ouch! That’s not the answer you wanted. That answer sounds like an answer a parent would give a child when pressed about how long the drive to grandma’s will take.
In all reality – that is precisely the right answer. It takes how long it takes.
The last thing in the world any lawyer worth their salt should do is tell you something that’s not true – like, you’ll get your settlement in two weeks, when it’s going to take four weeks. That’s not fair to anyone, especially the injured.
Every single personal injury claim settlement is unique based on varying factors like the accident itself, the injury, the circumstances, the parties involved, the medical care, the dollar amount(s) requested and the negotiations themselves and potentially many more factors. While some car, truck and motorcycle accident settlements are quite simple and may only take a few weeks, other injury lawsuit settlements are more involved, require more sophisticated legal experience and due to this, take more time.
However, there is a natural progression, or phases, to each and every lawsuit and settlement. Again, nothing – like life itself – is a guarantee, but the following phases will give you a good idea of how long it will take to get your settlement.
THREE PHASES TO DETERMINING WHEN YOU WILL GET YOUR SETTLEMENT:
Phase one is the “healing from your injuries” phase. What this means is that we (our lawyers) will want to wait to ask for a specific dollar amount until after your doctors, therapists and assorted medical professionals have ceased medical treatment or determined that you have recovered as much as you’re going to recover. As you know, healing mind and body from accident injuries can take hours, days, weeks or even months. In a normal personal injury case, the victim would let us know that they have been released from medical care and then we would begin this phase: preparing a settlement to present to the insurance company, which may include factors like property damage, extent of physical injury, medical costs, loss of salary, companionship, longer term care etc. In brief, the first phase is using factors like the injury itself, monies lost, projected monies lost in the future and compiling all of this to let the insurance company how much of a settlement we expect.
This phase is a lot of back and forth negotiations. After the settlement proposal has been submitted to the insurance company, they will usually respond to this proposal within 1-2 months. During that time they will do their own investigations and come up with their own number as to what they think the settlement should be worth. Invariably, the two numbers are not very close, which is why usually extensive negotiations take place during this phase. The personal injury lawyers are trying to get the most money possible, while the insurance company is trying t pay out the least amount possible. All the while our lawyers and in constant contact with the client (the injured party) as the back and forth takes place. This phase can take anywhere from days to weeks to months depending on the complexity of the case.
Now, this phase may be all that’s needed. It depends on whether or not the insurance company
settles on a financial amount that makes sense to you and your lawyers. If they offer enough, then
the negotiations are over. Sometimes the negotiations are not successful and a settlement is not reached. In this instance, everything would move to the next phase.
This phase has to do with one thing: litigation. This is what happens when settlement negotiations break down and you and your lawyer agree that the best route is to head towards a trial. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the lawsuit will go to trial – as there are still so m,any options. In our vast experience settling claims for our clients we have found it is not always desirable to litigate, but we will if the insurance company won’t offer enough to fully compensate our clients for all the physical, emotional and financial pain they have been through.