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Personal injury lawsuits are lengthy. They take time. There are various legal steps involved. From filing the case, gathering evidence, to litigating your case—a personal injury case can take time. Understanding these steps is important. For instance, it will help you organize your schedule and avoid anxiety. Hire a good Personal injury attorney – Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward PC.
The following guide is going to help you understand the timelines involved in a personal injury lawsuit. It will also help you understand the amount of time it takes to get your settlement.
What’s your main aim? Is it to settle the case quickly or to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries? Accidents can be detrimental. They can negatively impact your health, as well as the quality of your life. That’s why you need to be vigilant when filing your claim.There's settling your personal injury case quickly, then there's getting 'shorted' on fair compensation. Understanding these timelines can help you get what you deserve!Click To Tweet
It’s Important to Take Your Time
Don’t be quick to accept the insurer’s initial offer. You could end up losing a lot of money.
Remember, insurance companies are in business. Their primary goal is to make more profits. So, they’ll always do everything they can to convince you to settle for less money.
Take your time. Consult widely. In particular, talk with your lawyer first. Don’t be in a hurry to get compensation. You will get a raw deal if you are not patient.
Why Do Personal Injury Cases Drag Out?
Several things can make your case drag out. And these typically include:
A Complex Case
Personal injury claims are usually driven by aspects, such as liability and the extent of damages.
Suppose it’s hard to determine who was at fault. In that case, the insurance adjuster might not be able to make a realistic settlement offer until your attorney has demonstrated a willingness to take the case to court.
If there are such legal issues in your case, the insurance company might not make a reasonable offer until a judge has ruled the case in your favor.
Proof of Liability
The treating physician, for instance, might be unsure that the defending party’s negligence caused your injuries. Remember, the insurance adjuster isn’t going to make a significant settlement offer unless it’s convinced that your attorney can produce expert medical witnesses to testify that the other party’s negligence caused your injuries.
So, be sure to contact relevant witnesses. You may also want to consider hiring expert medical witnesses to testify in your favor. This will go a long way in strengthening your claim and improving your odds of winning the case.
The Extent of Your Damages
Another thing that can significantly delay settlement is the extent of your damages. If your case involves large sums of money, it might take longer for it to be concluded. Insurers won’t merely pay out big money until they’ve performed their due diligence.
They’ll want to investigate every aspect of your case, including the extent of your injuries and whether or not you have a good defense to the claim. They’ll also want to make sure that they can’t attack your credibility before making a settlement offer.
At times, insurance companies hesitate to settle on big cases just to see if you’ll give up and agree to take up their offer. They know that most claimants aren’t patient enough to have their issues resolved in court. Yes, they’re very much aware of this, and they’ll try to drag it out.
Maximum Medical Improvement
If you’re still undergoing medical treatment, your settlement might take longer. But it’s better to wait long and obtain maximum compensation for your damages. Don’t try to settle your case until you have fully recovered from your injuries.
Maximum medical improvement or MMI typically means that you have completely recovered. And it’s usually the best point at which you should consider settling your claim. But if you’re still receiving treatment, your lawyer may find it hard to determine the extent of your injuries and valuing your case.
Steps In A Personal Injury Claim
The Plaintiff Is Injured
For you to file a personal injury claim, you should have suffered some form of injury due to another person’s negligence. But regardless of the extent of your damages, your case won’t make it fail-proof.
If your damages are worth more than the court’s limit of about five-thousand to ten-thousand dollars, you may need to hire an attorney. After the initial consultation, they will tell you whether or not you have a valid case.
The lawyer will conduct exploratory investigations to determine if the defendant has applicable coverage or valuable assets to cover any judgment. If the investigation leads the lawyer to conclude that your case is viable, an agreement will be signed, and your working relationship with him/her will be officially established.
A Complaint Is Filed
Once your attorney establishes that a legitimate case exists, he or she will file a complaint in an appropriate civil court. Being an official document, the complaint will lay out in detail what you’re alleging.
The attorney will then be given 30 days or more to find the defendant and serve them with the complaint.
This means that the attorney will physically deliver the complaint to the at-fault party in a verifiable way, ensuring that he or she can’t later claim not to beware of the lawsuit.
The service papers will also notify the defendant about the date they’ll be required to appear in court.
The Defendant Appears In Court
Once you have filed your complaint, the defendant will be given a month or so to find a lawyer before the first court date. If insurance applies, then the defendant should notify his or her insurer as soon as possible.
The insurance firm will then appoint an attorney for them if they haven’t already chosen one. Most defense attorneys charge an hourly rate, not contingency fees.
Thus, if the defendant doesn’t have enough cash to pay out-of-pocket, then a “losing” personal injury claim that’s headed for early settlement won’t be a major issue to the lawyer, who’s being paid either way.
Pre-Trial or the Discovery Process
During this process, both parties will share their evidence and witness information. They’ll also appear in court to notify the judge of their case proceedings and discuss mediation or arbitration.
Depending on the complexity of the case, they may also want to consider setting a trial date. As time progresses, both sides will start to schedule depositions (question-and-answer sessions).
The discovery process can take several months, with the trial date being frequently pushed back. As the case approaches trial, both of you will significantly ramp up your efforts as you engage in settlement conferences.
The Trial Phase
Once the trial starts, it can last several days. At this point, the judge will determine who’s at fault for the accident. Plus, the jury will try to determine how much you deserve to receive in terms of compensation.
After trial, either side can initiate an appeal process which can last for several months or years. Although court proceedings are generally hectic and time-consuming, they usually end up well.
Remember, taking your case to trial is the only way through which you can get the compensation you truly deserve. So, be patient. Don’t be in a rush to get your case settled out of court. This won’t benefit you. It will deny you your right to reasonable compensation.
The insurance adjuster will do everything he or she can to convince you to accept their initial offer but be careful not to fall for their cheap tricks. Instead, push your attorney to take the case to court.
How To Choose the Best Personal Injury Attorney
Are you looking for a personal injury attorney? Most people handle their own cases, but you might need to work with a professional attorney if yours is a complex one. Such professionals possess the required experience and expertise to help you get the compensation you truly deserve.
Personal injury cases typically cover an extensive range of situations. You might have been injured in a road accident, bitten by your neighbor’s dog, or by slipping and falling on somebody’s property.
Don’t make quick decisions. Carefully analyze the case and determine what you’re capable of. If you decide to handle a claim by yourself and end up mishandling it, it can be complicated for an attorney to step in. So if you aren’t sure about your abilities, consider contacting a professional attorney immediately.
Commitment To Your Case
People who have adequate insurance coverage don’t usually prefer working with personal injury attorneys. But this can significantly reduce their chances of getting maximum compensation for their damages.
So, be sure to find an attorney who’s committed to helping you recover maximum compensation for your injuries. He or she must be ready to fight hard and get your case to trial. This way, you’ll be able to get more money.
You may think that your insurer is always there to look out for you. But the truth is that the insurance company’s interests might be directly at odds with your expectations. You have to fight hard and ensure that you get a reasonable damage award.
Remember, insurance firms have the primary goal of giving out as little as possible. They’re in business, and they’ll do everything they can to retain more profits. So, be wary.
Contingency Fee Agreements
Most personal injury attorneys charge contingency fees for their legal services. This means that you won’t have to pay them anything unless they manage to bring you a reasonable amount of compensation.
Contingency fee agreements typically work by allowing your attorney to collect compensation from the damage award or your settlement. The deal is usually structured based on a given percentage of your compensation amount.
For instance, the agreement might stipulate that the attorney receives thirty-percent if the case is settled out of court or forty-percent if it goes to trial and you receive compensation for your damages.
Experience and Academic Qualifications
The lawyer you select can also play a vital role in the amount of time your case takes. A lawyer with extensive experience in your specific area of interest will deliver more results than one who is over-committed. So, look for the best lawyer.
Ask the lawyer about his/her commitments. Select a lawyer who is willing to handle your case in person. Avoid lawyers who will delegate your case to their juniors.
Even more, look at the experience of that lawyer. Does the attorney deal with personal injury cases? What is his or her success rate? How many cases has that lawyer solved in the past? And were they successfully concluded?
Personal injury cases take time. They can take from months to years to materialize. Thus, it’s important to be patient. Understand all the steps involved in a personal injury case.
Get the process right. Select the right personal injury lawyer. Doing this will go a long way in ensuring that your case is well presented. Plus, it’ll significantly improve your chances of winning the case and securing maximum compensation for your injuries.
How will you feel if you realize that your case could be worth a lot more if you had been a little patient? Terrible, right? But how do you calculate the amount of compensation you should receive? Well, working with an experienced lawyer can go a long way in helping you obtain adequate compensation for your injuries.
If your case makes it to trial, you’ll definitely get more money than what the insurance adjuster was offering. Quick settlements can be very costly. So, be sure to contact a personal injury attorney before accepting the insurance company’s settlement offer.
Have you ever been part of a personal injury lawsuit?
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.