This is one of many questions personal injury victims often have about the legal process. They see medical bills piling up and may be missing work because of their health issues, so they may feel anxious about getting that settlement check.
Below, learn more about how long personal injury lawsuit settlements may take and the factors that may prolong a case or cause a resolution to happen relatively quickly. To get a better idea about the potential timeline that may be involved in your claim, contact Schmidt Kramer for a free consultation.
Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
There are several steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit. The process can be halted at any stage if the insurance company or attorney for the at-fault party offers a settlement and you agree to accept it.
Negotiating Before Filing a Lawsuit
Most injury attorneys will attempt to negotiate a claim before filing a lawsuit. Your personal injury lawyer will gather evidence of the other party’s liability and your damages and use this information to support a demand to the opposing party.
Filing the Case
If the insurance company did not offer fair compensation, your lawyer may file a lawsuit. The process begins when you file a petition with the court laying out the facts of the accident and your damages. You must file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.
Discovery is the process through which each side obtains information about the case. This helps determine what the claims and possible defenses are. Your lawyer may send the defendant a series of questions to answer about the case, called interrogatories. He or she may also ask for documents or ask the opposing party to appear at a deposition in which his or her testimony is recorded. Likewise, the other party can send discovery requests that you must complete. This process often takes several months to complete.
As the trial date approaches, the parties may participate in mediation, in which a trained professional attempts to guide the parties toward settlement.
If the parties have still not agreed to settle the case, the case proceeds to trial. The trial may last a day, a week or longer, depending on the complexity of the issues involved and the court’s schedule. During trial, lawyers present evidence and question witnesses. The judge or jury weighs the evidence and makes a final decision on whether the defendant was responsible for the accident and how much damages the plaintiff is eligible for, if any.
Factors that Can Draw a Case Out
There are several factors that can make some cases last longer than others. Some of these factors include:
Dispute Over Liability or Damages
Insurance companies often try to deny claims by alleging that their insured was not responsible for the accident or refuting the value of the victim’s damages.
Proving another party’s liability may be difficult if the parties and witnesses all offer a different perspective on how the accident occurred. Likewise, if the insurance company asserts that your injuries were due to a pre-existing medical condition, it may deny the claim. When there are disputes over liability or damages, the case is much more likely to take longer to resolve.
Value of the Case
Another factor that can affect the duration of a case is its value. Insurance companies may be unwilling to provide fair compensation, particularly if the client suffered extensive damages. That is why it is important to have a lawyer on your side who can fight for full compensation.
If you claim a significant amount of damages, the insurance company will likely conduct a more thorough investigation into your claim. It likely will not offer a settlement until it determines that there is no viable defense to the claim, your injuries are as severe as you claim, and you appear like you will be a good witness in court.
You Are Not at Maximum Medical Improvement
A good personal injury lawyer typically will not try to resolve your case until you reach a point of maximum medical improvement - the point where you have recovered as much as expected. At this point, your lawyer can better calculate your medical expenses and your ongoing care needs.
Contact Schmidt Kramer for a Free Consultation
If you were injured in an accident, it is important that you have a qualified legal advocate on your side. At Schmidt Kramer, our Harrisburg personal injury attorneys have many years of combined experience in personal injury cases.
We charge no upfront fees and handle all communication with the insurance company so our clients can focus on their recovery.
Contact us today to ask your legal questions and learn more about the legal process. Call (717) 888-8888.