When you have a pending personal injury case, you probably want to know when you can expect the matter to get concluded. How long a personal injury case takes depends on several factors.
Most of these factors are not within the control of your attorney. There are, however, ways to avoid preventable delays. Providing needed documentation promptly can help keep the case moving, for example.
Most Personal Injury Cases Settle Out of Court
The majority of personal injury cases settle without having to go to trial. You might be surprised to learn that most civil lawsuits and criminal cases settle, too. The question is the point at which the dispute gets resolved.
A personal injury claim can settle at any of these points:
- Shortly after making a claim against the at-fault party’s liability insurance company. In a straightforward case with clear liability and a modest amount of damages, the insurance claims adjuster might agree to a fair settlement. Evidence, including the police report, medical bills, and employment records proving lost wages are a significant help to your claim.
- Sometimes your personal injury attorney will need to engage in multiple rounds of negotiations with the liability insurer before the insurance company agrees to pay a reasonable amount.
- If it does not appear that the defendant will agree to pay a fair amount for your losses, your attorney will likely file a lawsuit to protect your right to compensation. Your case could still settle after the lawsuit gets filed. Your personal injury lawyer will continue to negotiate, now with the defense attorneys from the insurance company.
- Even if your case goes to trial, the lawyers could negotiate with each other during the trial. Quite a few cases settle “on the courthouse steps.”
- At the end of the trial, there will be a jury verdict. If one of the parties is unhappy with the result, they might file an appeal asking a higher court to review specific aspects of the case. The lawsuit could get settled while the appeal is pending. If there is no appeal, the jury verdict will stand.
The point at which the case settles, if it does, will determine how long your personal injury case takes. The quickest settlement could happen in as little as a few weeks from when your personal injury lawyer gets involved and sends a demand letter to the insurance company. If the matter requires litigation, the process could go on for months or several years.
The Amount of Money at Stake Matters
A case with a settlement value of $10,000, for example, usually will settle more quickly than one in which the defendant faces potential liability in the millions of dollars.
The Less Complex Your Case Is, the Faster It Resolves
The simpler the issues involved in the case, the quicker the matter tends to get sorted out. A car accident that was the result of a distracted driver running a stoplight requires less trial preparation than a crash caused by an engineering defect in one of the vehicles.
Why You Should Wait to Settle Your Case Until After Completing Your Medical Treatment
You should not be in too great a hurry to settle your personal injury case. Once you sign the settlement documents, the defendant will have no further legal responsibility for the harm you suffered in the accident.
If you have not yet been released from your treating physician, you should not agree to a settlement of your claim. Imagine how disappointed you would be if you went back to your doctor for the follow-up appointment and discovered that you need additional surgery to complete your healing. The defendant’s insurance company would not pay those bills. They will come out of your pocket.
The Truth About Lowball Offers
It can be tempting to grab the first settlement offer the claims adjuster makes, but you would probably shortchange yourself if you did. The initial offer is almost always a lowball offer. You deserve better.
By working with a personal injury attorney in Columbia, SC, on your claim, you can learn the true value of your case. Our lawyers advise all their clients to avoid accepting the first offer – or any offer – of the insurance company without talking matters with their legal representative first. In car accident cases and malpractice situations, insurance companies hope they can get rid of plaintiffs quickly as injured and wronged people usually need money fast to recover. As much as a lump sum would help you on the spot, you are only doing the insurer a favor. Have patience and trust your attorney to negotiate you a fair settlement.
How the Discovery Stage Helps to Settle Lawsuits
After a lawsuit gets filed, both parties exchange information and find out as much as they can about the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case.
Many personal injury lawsuits get settled after the plaintiff and defendant gather this information and reevaluate how much money the claim is worth.
How Long It Can Take to Get a Trial Date
During the lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will likely have to go to court multiple times and confer with the judge.
Even after both sides inform the court that they are ready to go to trial, it could take months to get an opening on the court’s trial calendar.
What Happens If There Is an Appeal
After going through the pretrial process and a full trial, you finally reach the point at which the jury decides about your case. If no one files an appeal after the trial, the case is over.
Sometimes the defendant will file an appeal to try to delay paying the money the jury awarded. They might hope that you will accept a lower amount to avoid having to go through an appeal. Sometimes plaintiffs appeal because they feel the judge made a significant error during the trial that adversely affected the outcome.
Only a small number of cases go to trial. Our team can advocate for you, whether your case can get settled in the insurance claim stage or we must go to court for you.
Let George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers Fight For You
We handle personal injury cases in Georgia and South Carolina. Call us today at (888) 612-7001 for a free consultation with a compassionate team member. We have 40 years of experience and take cases on a contingency-fee basis, so there are no financial risks when you work with us.