Individuals injured because of another party’s negligence who are considering filing a lawsuit may be wondering about a time frame in which to expect potential compensation. This question is not easily answered because there are numerous factors to consider, with each having the potential to affect a personal injury suit’s duration. Many lawsuits take months or even years to resolve fully. For this very reason, it is common for personal injury cases to be settled well before they reach the trial stage.
Below are some of the determining factors that dictate the length of a lawsuit.
Medical Care and Medical Records
Individuals injured through someone else’s negligence should always seek medical attention as soon as possible. One should be medically evaluated to uncover evident injury as well as underlying, hidden injuries. Additionally, a medical professional can document the diagnosis and set forth a treatment plan. If the victim decides to pursue legal action, these medical documents can help an attorney determine a potential financial amount to use when requesting compensation in a lawsuit.
All medical care does not have to be fully completed for an accident victim to reach a settlement. However, rushing to accept a settlement offer too quickly may result in shortchanging the plaintiff. Generally, it is best to prolong a decision until the physical condition has stabilized and a long-term care plan has been determined.
Not only are medical records vital, but a solid personal injury lawsuit also hinges on other substantial documentation that effectively proves the claim. For example, photographs taken at the accident scene, written recollections of the incident, and contact information of all witnesses can be invaluable in helping to demonstrate who is responsible for the damages.
Consulting With a Lawyer
In most instances that involve a personal injury accident, it is advisable for the victim to seek legal counsel from a qualified and skilled attorney with a successful record of winning such cases. Bear in mind that the attorney will want to meet with the victim to thoroughly summarize all pertinent facts and then set out to investigate all details thoroughly. This will involve a complete review of all records, researching all regulations and laws, and communicating with experts. Of course, all of these steps require a good bit of time to complete.
Demand Letter and Response
Upon completion of the initial investigation, it is not unusual for the victim’s attorney to send a demand letter to the party responsible for the accident, plus the insurance company and its attorney. This letter verbalizes an amount of financial compensation that will be considered acceptable in order to settle the case before a trial.
In some instances, an accident victim may be contacted by the at-fault party’s insurer or lawyer concerning a proposed settlement amount before the victim’s lawyer sends a demand letter. If this happens, the victim’s attorney can discuss options and choose whether to counter with an alternate amount, completely reject the offer, or accept the settlement amount.
Filing the Lawsuit
Just because settlement negotiations are occurring does not mean that a settlement is going to be reached. If no offer is accepted, a lawsuit will then be filed by the victim’s lawyer. After the paperwork is filed and served upon all defendants, there is a 30-day period for them to file their response. When the other parties see that a victim is serious enough to file a lawsuit, settlement talks often resume.
Going to Trial
Once the filing takes place, trial preparation comes next. Remember that the court gives a discovery period of six months for evidence to be openly exchanged between both sides. The documents and information received frequently become building blocks on which a strong case is built.
The last step in the journey involves going to trial and letting a jury hear and decide the case. The trial may not get scheduled for many months or even years after the victim was injured, based on how heavily crowded a judge’s docket is.
What Takes So Long in Settling a Case?
There are three specific issues that can cause a personal injury case to be prolonged.
- Legal or factual problems – When there are disputes over who is responsible or what the damages actually are, this can drastically slow down a case. Additionally, when liability is not easy to prove, insurance companies will typically not make a decent settlement offer until after the lawsuit has been filed by the victim’s attorney and experts have stepped in to prove the defendant’s negligence.
- Large amounts of money are involved – Insurance companies typically will not pay large settlements until they thoroughly investigate all aspects and then perhaps see if the victim will take a low amount upfront. Because some claimants are desperate financially, insurers often find success with this tactic.
- A maximum medical improvement point has not been reached – When an accident victim reaches the point where recovery has progressed as much as it ever will, this is referred to as MMI or maximum medical improvement. This does not mean that a full recovery has taken place. Instead, a stable point has been reached in treatment and will be consistent going forward. Only now can a monetary figure be determined as a value for medical expenses, damages, and long-term implications.
What About Early Settlement?
Each case is unique, so there are no concrete rules concerning settlements. Insurers are known for offering upfront settlement amounts that fall far below the amount they would offer on the eve of a trial date.
Even if an injury victim thinks a quick settlement is needed due to financial hardships, it may prove beneficial to speak with a personal injury attorney. An attorney will give tailored advice about potential options that could lead to a higher overall settlement in the long run. A case could be worth far more than an accident victim initially anticipated, and a seasoned injury attorney may be able to help obtain this higher amount.
A personal injury attorney can provide information regarding available options to help prevent the need to accept the defense’s first settlement offer. Plaintiffs who need financial assistance during a prolonged legal process can look into lawsuit funding from companies such as The Legal Funding Group.
Receive a Cash Advance While You Wait For Your Settlement
During the lengthy legal process, injured plaintiffs will be facing mounting bills and expenses that they are unable to pay. This situation is worsened if the plaintiff’s injuries prevent them from going to work and earning income. The Legal Funding Group provides non-recourse funding to injured plaintiffs whose cases qualify. You can get the money you need to pay your bills while you wait for your lawsuit to resolve. No credit check is required, and repayment is not required unless you win your case.
Contact (912)-777-3997 or fill out an online contact form to find out more.