One of the first things many clients want to know is how long it will take to settle their case. Unfortunately, there is no easy or precise way to answer this question as there are so many variables involved. As much as a client may not want to hear this, the most truthful answer may be “it depends….”
Some personal injury cases can be settled rather quickly. In these cases, “quickly” means one to three months. More complicated cases can take a year, or even several years, to resolve.
To resolve a personal injury case, your lawyer must negotiate with the insurance companies and/or those responsible for your injuries to reach a settlement that all parties agree to in writing. If no settlement can be agreed upon, then your lawyer must file a lawsuit on your behalf. However, it should be noted that lawsuits are often settled before trial. Therefore, just because your lawyer files a lawsuit, this does not necessarily mean that you will have to endure a trial.
Here are some of the factors that can influence how long a personal injury claim takes to resolve:
1. How long it takes to gather the needed evidence.
2. How long medical treatment takes and if the case can be settled before medical treatment ends.
3. How reasonable the parties are in settlement negotiations and how many rounds of counter offers it takes to settle the case, assuming it can be settled without a lawsuit. Some insurance companies are more reasonable than others.
4. How experienced your attorney is at settling your particular type of personal injury claim.
5. If the case has to go to trial, how full is the court docket. In California, it can take up to a year to have a trial once your attorney requests one because the dockets are so full.
6. How long you wait before seeking help from an attorney. The longer you wait, the more difficult the case may be. The more difficult the case, the longer it can take. Therefore, it is a good idea to seek the guidance of an attorney as soon as possible.
7. How long it takes to pay the bills and distribute funds.
8. If you’ve had previous claims or not. If you have had previous claims, the insurance company may take a much closer look at your case and this can cause the case to take more time.
Regarding #2 above, it is important to point out that once a case is settled, it cannot be opened back up. Therefore, if you have substantial physical injuries, your attorney may decide it is best to wait until you have healed completely or your doctor decides you have healed as much as you are going to heal, i.e. that you have sustained permanent injuries. This is sometimes called “maximum medical improvement” or “medical end.” Your medical team will also need to determine how your injuries will impact your ability to work and if you may be subject to additional complications that could potentially make your condition even worse. In these cases, waiting ensures that you will receive all the compensation you are entitled to receive and you won’t be left holding the bag further down the road.
Personal Injury Claims Take Time
Some things just take a certain amount of time, no matter how good your attorney is or how cooperative everyone is in the negotiations. For example, once a settlement demand has been submitted to an insurance company, they have to be given enough time to review it and respond. This is usually twenty to thirty days. Here’s another example. If a lawsuit has to be filed, the defendant has thirty days to respond to the suit. Also, if a lawsuit is filed, there is a period known as “discovery” where depositions are taken and information is exchanged. If there are a lot of people involved that need to be deposed, this can take a considerable amount of time.
It can be difficult for the injured party to be patient when a case is taking a long time to resolve. This is because there is always a certain amount of stress and hardship during a settlement negotiation or lawsuit. However, having a really good attorney who will hold your hand through the whole process and take most of the burden off your shoulders can make the experience much less stressful and far more tolerable.
California Personal Injury Claims Lawyers
The May Firm takes great pride in treating every client with a great deal of respect and personal understanding. We know when you’ve been injured due to the neglect or another person(s), you may be at your most vulnerable and you need a good support system. We take care of as many details of the case as possible leaving our clients in a position to focus on taking care of themselves and getting well. If you are in need of a personal injury attorney, give us a call at (805) 980-7758. Contact us today, we offer a free initial consultation and we are very experienced in California at handling all types of personal injury cases. We have law offices in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Fresno, and Bakersfield. Call to speak with a personal injury attorney if you have questions about how long it will take to resolve a personal injury claim.