Why is My Settlement Taking So Long? Part I of II
While a personal injury case is ideally settled swiftly, there are many reasons why cases might take a long time to settle:
- The medical treatment is still progressing.
Victims who have incurred major injuries but have not yet attained maximum medical improvement will have future medical costs. These future costs are impossible to assume. It is not covered by the settlement if the victim’s condition does not improve as expected.
This is why serious and long-term injury claims take longer to resolve. Sadly, these are the cases where victims accrue large medical bills and are financially pressured to settle.
- An attempt to increase the settlement.
The victim’s counsel may purposely prolong a settlement to gather further proof. That proof might prove the victim’s losses or who caused the disaster. A settlement may be delayed if a similar case is ongoing in court and awaiting the conclusion of the other case if it will improve the worth of the victim’s claim.
- Concerns must be resolved, legal or factual. Cases might take a long time to settle if crucial legal or factual issues remain unresolved. Factual conflicts include how much the victim’s medical care and lost earnings really cost.
A legal or factual dispute might slow down the settlement process. The case’s worth might vary depending on the outcome. The victim will expect a higher settlement, while the defendant will make lower offers or refuse to settle. Settlements might be difficult to reach when the parties’ expectations are off.
- A backlogged court
If the court is backlogged, the period between filing and trial will be extended. Important hearings, including the settlement conference, will be postponed. There is less pressure and more time to settle without the trial deadline. Defendants can use this to draw out the lawsuit and force the plaintiff to accept a lesser settlement.
- The defendant stalls the case
Defendants can extend the process in several ways. Some of them use these tactics to prolong the lawsuit. They do this if they believe the victim is in a financial bind and needs the settlement money quickly. These defendants use the financial pressure to delay settlement. Victims need compensation payments more as time passes. Victims become quicker to settle, inclined to drop expectations, and take less.
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.