A common question when considering whether to retain a personal injury lawyer is how long your case will take to resolve. There is no short answer to this question, unfortunately. Depending on how various factors play out, your claim could take a few months to a few years to resolve.
Recovery Time Is a Big Factor Affecting How Long Your Personal Injury Case Takes to Resolve
One of the biggest factors in determining how long your personal injury case will take is your medical treatment. A primary goal of your personal injury case is to get you back as much as possible to your normal life before the accident, and to compensate you for the costs necessary to get you back to normal. A settlement with the liability insurer for the adverse party is final. The settlement cannot be reopened down the road if you discover you need additional treatment. So you should not resolve your claim until you have fully recovered from your injuries, or have at least reached maximum medical improvement, so the costs of future care can be estimated and factored in. The amount of time it takes for a person to recover from their injuries can, of course, vary hugely.
Factual Issues Also Can Affect the Time to Resolve Your Claim
Disputes as to how the accident happened can have a significant impact on how long it takes your personal injury claim to resolve. Contentions by the other driver in an auto accident case that the claimant was partially at fault, for example by not signaling, will be asserted by their insurance company to contend that the claimant’s overall recovery should be reduced by some percentage to reflect comparative fault. Or in a chain car crash involving more than one vehicle, fingers of fault may be pointed up and down the chain. In a slip and fall or trip and fall case, the property occupier’s insurance company frequently contends that the claimant was partially at fault for not looking where they were going. Such disagreements as to how fault should allocated can slow down resolution of a case.
Questions concerning the extent of your injuries from a personal injury accident can also affect the time it takes to resolve a claim. Insurance companies routinely ask for medical records from before the personal injury accident to determine if there are any pre-existing conditions that can arguably be blamed for a claimant’s post-accident complaints. If you are involved in any post-accident incidents that could arguably be contributing to the problems you experience following your accident the insurance company’s investigation into these can lengthen the time it takes to resolve your personal injury claim.
The Size and Complexity of the Case Also Are Factors
Another factor that affects the time it takes to resolve a personal injury case is the size and complexity of the case. Insurance companies often postpone making large payouts for as long as they can. Personal injury claims involving multiple parties and insurance companies usually take longer to resolve. Some claims require investigations by and opinions from experts, which can take additional time.
Filing a Lawsuit
If your lawyer is required to file a lawsuit, this will lengthen the time it takes to resolve your personal injury case. You may have to file a lawsuit because your attorney is not able to negotiate a settlement with a comfortable cushion before the statute of limitations expires. Filing a lawsuit may be necessary if settlement negotiations have stalled or broken down. Once a lawsuit is filed, the parties will likely engage in a formal discovery process before settlement negotiations resume. If settlement negotiations are still not successful, then trial will be necessary to resolve your personal injury case. All of this takes additional time.