In most cases, a personal injury case will be settled out of court. Insurance companies don't want to take cases to trial unless they are confident that they will win. If the evidence suggests that the plaintiff experienced medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of wages because of another party's negligence, a settlement is the best option.
With that said, cases aren't always clear cut. Certain cases may be unusual in some respects. Furthermore, it is possible that the facts of the case will be under dispute. Beharry Law firm doesn't make any promises when it comes to case resolution. We want to take the time to completely evaluate your case before giving you an estimate. Here's how we determine how long it will take to secure a settlement.
WHAT FACTORS INTO SETTLEMENT TIMES
When determining how long it will take to reach a settlement, there are three separate factors that are taken into account. These factors include the amount of time taken to recover from the injury, the complexity of the case, and factual disputes.
It's true that certain cases are a lot more complicated than other cases are. For example, if only two vehicles are involved in a wreck, it's going to be far less complex than an accident that involves multiple cars, a motorcyclist, and a semi-truck. There are also other conditions that can make a case more complicated, such as the weather or the road conditions. In some cases, a municipality will be at fault because roadways were not properly maintained.
In some cases, a case's nature is what makes it more complicated. As an example, if you were to slip and injure yourself in a retail store, it would be necessary to obtain security footage that shows you falling. You would also need to demonstrate that the store's management was aware of the issue, but failed to take action. This isn't always easy to prove, and it may take some time to build a strong case. When making product liability or medical malpractice claims, it may be necessary to consult with experts. Complex information may need to be deciphered. It's important to investigate thoroughly in order to build a strong case, which means it can take longer to reach a settlement.
QUESTIONS OF FACT
In some cases, if facts are disputed, a case can go on for years. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit so that the case stays within the statute of limitations (link). Insurance companies are far more open to escalating to trial in these cases, particularly if it's possible that you showed some negligence.
As an example, it's easier to demonstrate that someone was negligent in a case involving a rear-ending than it would be in a case where a vehicle was struck from the side. You won't find many rear-end collisions in which the driver that hit you was not displaying negligent behavior. If you had to stop suddenly and brake, it's not likely that you would cause a collision as long as the driver that was behind you stayed a safe distance away. In addition, read-end collisions are more likely to occur when a vehicle experiences a mechanical failure or because of distracted driving. This means that the plaintiff can't be at fault.
There's more in dispute when a car is struck from the side. It's possible that you switched lanes without looking at your blind spot. You may have ignored a stop sign or stoplight. There are many other scenarios as well. Since there are more possibilities, it can take longer to resolve a case.
INJURY RECOVERY TIME
In addition, the timeframe for a settlement can vary based on how severe an injury is. You'll need to keep a running total on your medical expenses, and you'll also need to make sure you have accurate information on the impact the injuries will have on you going forward. Without this, you won't be able to make a reasonable settlement. You won't be able to begin negotiations until after you've reached 90 % recovery or passed that.
Because of this, it's easier to settle a whiplash case than it is to resolve a case in which a plaintiff broke multiple bones and suffered a traumatic brain injury. We won't be able to secure an appropriate settlement until after we've determined how the defendant's negligent behavior will impact you throughout your life.
INJURY SETTLEMENT PROCESS
The process of settling on a claim is usually fairly uncomplicated. In most cases, cases will go through the following steps:
Prior to taking on your case, we'll look closely at the facts of the case to see if it's viable. After we've managed to establish that, we'll gather medical records, interview transcripts, police reports, and other pieces of evidence so that we can build a stronger case. During this period, you'll have time to work on your recovery.
As you recover and we work to build your case, we'll present the insurance company with our demand package. The package will include a letter that will establish the specifics of the case and the settlement that you are seeking.
Once the insurance company has been presented with the demand package, they will make a response. It's possible that they will make a lower counteroffer, and it is also possible that they will try to deny the claim completely.
This is a process in which we work to get the insurance company to make a better offer. We'll present any new evidence we have gathered, such as current medical records, during this time. In some situations, this concludes with a settlement. In other situations, we must take other steps in order to secure a settlement.
If we are unable to reach an agreement, then we will file a lawsuit so that the statute of limitations is preserved. We will continue to attempt to negotiate with the insurance companies while we wait for a trial date to be scheduled.
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Both mediation and arbitration often take place before a case proceeds to court. This costs less than a trial, but it still gives you an opportunity to make a case. In many cases, you will secure the settlement that you're looking for. If you're not satisfied with the results, we can file an appeal and take the case to trial.
More often than not, all parties will benefit if a case is settled out of court. Still, this isn't something you will want to go through alone.