Personal injury lawsuits occur when you’ve been injured in an accident that was not your fault. A serious injury can affect your quality of life for years, but luckily, you can take legal recourses to get the compensation you deserve.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim? Here are the key things to know.
How Long Does It Take To Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
Car accident settlements can take months to years. If the defendant was clearly at fault and the insurance company is willing to settle without going to court, the process can take several months. If this is the case, consider yourself lucky!
The more common timeline is years–yes, years. Most often, settling a personal injury claim takes from one to three years. But what goes into the long, drawn-out timeline?
When you’re dealing with an insurance company claim, they won’t just hand you a check a week after the accident. There is a legal process that they’ll follow, and this can take a long time.
A personal injury lawsuit falls under the category of tort law, meaning it’s a civil suit (if someone ran into you with a car on purpose, that would be a criminal act, which is a whole different ball game.).
For you to emerge successful in a personal injury lawsuit, you have to prove two things, and you have to prove them clearly. You need to establish fault, and you need to prove that damages occurred due to the other party’s negligence.
The trouble with proving fault is that you may be partially culpable for the accident, even by as much as half. Whatever the case, if you share even a fraction of the fault, the picture then becomes less than clear cut.
And the more grey area there is, the more an insurance company will dig in and argue against awarding you damages. Or they may be willing to settle but at a far lower amount.
And guess what? The entire process can take time. Not only is the insurance company likely backlogged with claims, but your accident attorney has other cases they’re working on before they can get to yours.
The second thing you must prove in a personal injury case to receive a settlement is damages. You need to prove that the accident led to damages, to your property as well as your body.
Consider the most common types of personal injury cases:
- Car Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Medical Malpractice
- Defective Product Injuries
Many insurance accident claims, especially for incidents like car wrecks, don’t involve bodily injury. For example, if someone crashes into your parked car while you’re in your office, you obviously won’t have any injuries to claim.
But for a personal injury settlement to pan out in your favor, you need to have received injuries–just as the name implies.
To establish damages, the most critical piece of evidence you need to produce is medical testimony. Hospital records that document your injuries are the best source of proof of your injury.
So seek immediate medical attention after an accident. Not only for your own well-being but also because you’ll need your hospital stay as evidence for your settlement.
And it’s not just the medical care immediately following the accident that you need to record. You’ll also need records of any necessary rehab services in the weeks and months after the accident. From chiropractor visits to physical therapy to pain meds, the expenses can keep coming, and you’re entitled to this compensation.
Can the healing and rehab process after an accident take time? Of course, it can, and even though your medical treatment may not be the main driver of your settlement’s long timeline, personal injury cases often won’t resolve until you’ve completed your therapy.
Once you’ve submitted your claim, which can take months of record gathering and paperwork, the insurance company then has the chance to pick through your case. Line by line, the company can very easily argue against what you claim as damages, giving them leverage to offer you as little compensation as possible.
Can this process take time? You bet it can. But the right legal help can eliminate any unnecessary waiting by taking all the right steps when it’s time to act.
The Disappearing Defendant
One wild card factor worth noting that can add time to your personal injury claim is if the offending party goes M.I.A. As odd as it sounds, it happens more often than you think.
The problem is that a case really can’t proceed without the defendant’s cooperation. In certain cases where they know they’re at fault and can’t afford to lose their insurance, they may ghost you.
Even worse, if they carry their insurance with a less-than-reputable provider, the insurance company itself can play the waiting game. Their aim is that you’ll most likely go away, and in some cases, this may work.
The LaBovick team will aggressively pursue your case until the end. We will make sure that you don’t lose valuable time to willful negligence or incompetence of others.
What You Can Do
Much of the inherent bureaucracy of a personal injury case is out of your control. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure that at least you’re not responsible for any of the time bloat.
After an accident, make sure to take these three critical steps:
- Seek Medical Attention
- Keep Records of Everything
- Get a Lawyer
The statute of limitations for a personal injury settlement varies by state. You can have anywhere from one to six years to file your claim after an accident. The longer you wait, the longer the overall process will take.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim? It can take years. However, the sooner you seek the right accident attorney, the sooner you’ll see compensation for your accident.
Contact us today for a consultation. We can help resolve your case sooner than later.