Personal Injury Case Timeline
How long will it take to settle your personal injury claim? That is the $64,000 question. The typical attorney answer, not surprisingly, is, it depends. Seriously, there are a number of factors that can impact when a P.I case is ripe for settlement. Those factors can include:
LENGTH OF TREATMENT AND NATURE OF INJURIES
A personal injury case is ready for settlement when treatment for injuries concludes or the client attains a status where no further treatment will be beneficial, often referred to as “maximum medical improvement.” With treatment complete, medical bills and supporting records are gathered along with any other documentation for consideration, and a demand made to the appropriate party for settlement consideration.
WHO IS THE ADJUSTER AND WHAT INSURANCE COMPANY DOES HE OR SHE WORK WITH?
Who the adjuster is and what company he or she works for plays a role in when a case may settle. High volume and company procedures can affect the timing of a settlement. Whether or not the claim involves a significant injury or a soft tissue only claim can also make a difference as to the time frame a company may take to evaluate a claim before attempting to make a settlement offer.
ARE THERE QUESTIONS ABOUT LIABILITY?
Liability impacts whether or not a case will be settled or litigation required. If facts are manifest in the case that bring clear liability into question, the insurance company may deny the claim completely or reduce the amount they are willing to voluntarily pay to settle the claim.
IS A LAWSUIT FILED OR IS MEDIATION AN OPTION?
If a lawsuit is filed, the case may still settle sometime short of a trial on the merits. In many cases, a mediation may be ordered by the court, or the parties may agree to a mediation. This involves a disinterested third party meeting separately with the parties at a specific date and time to attempt to bring the parties together to reach a settlement on the case. The mediator discusses the strong and weak points with each party, and helps resolves the case.
HOW MUCH IS THE CASE WORTH?
Clients are often concerned with how much the case is worth. This can lead to a preconceived idea of what they should receive as a settlement. These expectations, if not realized, can delay or prevent a settlement of the case. A client’s desires and opinion as to the value of the claim are important considerations to be sure. Most personal injury attorneys are attempting to maximize recoveries for their clients based on the years of experience they have had in handling such claims. A claim can become challenging to settle when a client chooses to substitute his or her own judgment for that of his or her attorney, sometimes with unintended or negative results.