Why is My Settlement Taking so Long? Part II
The Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury case might take months or years. Aspects of the case include the victim’s injuries, whether the victim is willing to accept a lower settlement amount to speed up the process, whether the victim was partially to blame for his or her injuries, whether the defendant is an insurance company or an individual, and how desperately the victim wants to go to trial.
Other cases may settle quickly when a victim accepts an insurance company’s first settlement offer, or if the victim’s injuries are minor, they have reached maximum medical improvement, and the defendant’s liability is clear.
Some take considerably longer. If the defendant is footing the bill, they are less likely to settle and hope for a favorable outcome. Serious or expensive injuries, or disabilities, may likely take considerably longer to resolve. An appeal can significantly lengthen the process.
The sufferer will be treated after the accident. An insurance adjuster from the defendant’s insurer will contact the victim in the coming weeks. The adjuster will make the first offer.
This offer is timed to appear as appropriate compensation for the victim’s losses. To safeguard the insurance company’s profit line, it underpays the victim.
If the victim accepts the initial compensation offer, he or she must sign a waiver releasing the insurer from further legal action. An injury claim is closed.
If the victim refuses the initial settlement offer, a demand letter is prepared and sent. This note explains the accident, specifies the victim’s injuries, assigns blame for the victim’s injuries, requests compensation for those injuries, and warns the defendant that if the demand is not satisfied within a particular time frame, the victim will file a personal injury lawsuit.
The demand letter is sent to the person who caused the accident, their employer if they were working at the time of the accident, and their insurance company, generally their automobile insurance company.
Different replies include paying the desired amount, offering a counteroffer to settle the lawsuit for less, or refusing the demand.
Not satisfied with the defendant’s response, the victim and their lawyer might submit a complaint. A case for personal harm tells the victim’s case, demands recompense, and argues why the defendant should pay.
Defendant then files a response. The defendant answers to each accusation in the complaint by:
Admitting, denying, or not knowing enough to acknowledge or deny.
Then both sides go on the hunt. This is when the plaintiff’s attorney and the defense team gather evidence. This can be eyewitness accounts, police reports, victim medical records, depositions, and interrogatories.
The evidence uncovered by each side will help determine how much, if any, compensation is due to the victim. This will help the personal injury settlement talks.
During the discovery phase, the court will push the parties to settle. The court may order the parties to mediation and will usually arrange a settlement meeting.
If no settlement is made, the matter will go to trial. Very few personal injury cases get to trial.
To make an educated choice about when to settle, accident victims should carefully consider hiring a professional accident attorney. Many victims want a rapid settlement to get their money. Many personal injury and auto accident lawyers advise clients to hold out as long as possible. From pain and suffering to property damage, victims have a legal right to complete recompense. Victims seeking to settle typically forego a significant percentage of their entitlements.