The type of injury that you have sustained will affect whether or not your case can settle quickly. An injury may not be very serious. In those instances, insurance companies generally like to settle these cases quickly because they do not wish to go to court over matters that may be more costly to litigate than to settle. In some instances, insurance companies tend to settle cases when there is no doubt as to who is responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.
Sometimes, the at-fault person will admit that he or she caused the accident. Then, the case proceeds in a more straightforward manner.
Why Serious Injury Cases Take Longer
When the injuries are serious and liability is in doubt, the at-fault insurance company purposely wastes time and delays matters by doing the following:
- Disputing that their driver/client was at fault
- Suggesting that the injuries are due to a pre-existing condition and not the accident
- Disputing that the claimant is injured, and
- Claiming that the injured contributed to the accident
Serious injuries mean that there will be more visits to the doctor’s office, more medical records and more billings for the lawyers to gather and examine to submit to the insurance carrier. Your Lakeland personal injury lawyer will need more time to build a case that supports your claims in order to maximize any potential settlement or recovery.
Another reason that personal injury cases involving serious injury take longer to settle is because these cases are more likely to be taken to trial. The shortest lawsuit is usually around six months, but you can also expect yours to last one, two, and in some cases three years before you receive a settlement or jury verdict.
What Happens Throughout Those Years?
If your case takes several years to complete, this will be because each side will need to perform several tasks. The first year will be spent evaluating your health before and after the accident by reviewing all of your medical records, as well as the bills. This needs to be done in order to determine what your injuries are and what your prognosis will be. From there, we will have to decide how much treatment you are going to need in the future. However, consideration will be given to your past medical history before anyone can decide on what a proper and fair settlement would be.
When an insurance company receives records or bills, the lawyers ordinarily take 30 business days to examine them. Then, they take about two weeks to decide what the settlement offer they would likely recommend be made. If your case settles, another two weeks will be spent working out the remaining details and drawing up legal documents that are required to be signed.
Which Injuries Are Considered to Be Serious?
Serious injuries include brain injuries, back injuries, neck injuries, birth injuries, broken or fractured bones, severed limbs and death. It can also include injuries that result from medical malpractice. Illnesses due to exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace or in the environment may be considered to be serious injuries as well. If you are suffering from any of the maladies listed above, it will take longer for your case settle, but you may be entitled to higher compensation.
Accepting a Lower Settlement
As a rule, insurance companies do not want to voluntarily pay large settlements, and cases that involve serious injuries require them to do that. Therefore, they try and avoid making these payments by delaying your case as long as they possibly can. Their intention is to try and make you accept a lower settlement because you cannot afford to wait for the case to run its course.
It is within your rights to accept less monetary compensation than you deserve so that you can move on with your life. However, this will mean that your settlement will be lower than it would be if you wait until the most pressure can be exerted against the insurance company.
The Two Most Important People
Basically, the time frame of personal injury cases largely depends on two people: you and your Lakeland personal injury lawyer. It is entirely up to you to decide to wait for a larger settlement from what is initially offered, but this will cause the process to take longer.
Your personal injury attorney is also instrumental in determining how long this process takes because he or she will be charged with collecting evidence and imparting it to the opposing side when this information is requested. For this reason, you must contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that this sometimes-lengthy process can begin right away. If you’re wondering about timing of filing your lawsuit, read our article on how soon after a Florida car accident should I file a lawsuit.
When to Pursue a Settlement
Although you are advised to immediately consult a Lakeland personal injury lawyer, he or she will advise you not to pursue a settlement until you are medically stable. Generally, this will be when you have made a full recovery, or you have learned what your prognosis will be. In other words, a medical expert opinion will be needed in order to explain how your injuries will affect you from now into the future.
The dangerous alternative is to settle before you know these things, but the full extent of your injuries may not have presented themselves. It’s possible that you could develop another medical condition that is related to the accident and will require further medical treatment. A good example of this is soft tissue injuries and whiplash from car and truck accidents. If you settle early with the opposing side, you will not be able to ask for an increase in compensation.
Hiring an Attorney
It is common for insurance companies to work very hard not to offer you a fair settlement that would truly benefit you, or in many cases they will deny personal injury claims altogether. For these reasons, a personal injury attorney is necessary. Although the process may take years, your lawyer can help shorten it, and the fee you would have to pay will be worth the price.
If you or a family member have been involved in an accident and are considering a personal injury claim, fill out our free case evaluation form today and our Orlando and Lakeland Personal Injury attorneys will let you know if you have a case.
How Long Do Personal Injury Cases take To Settle – by Tim David
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