If you are like most personal injury accident victims, one of the top questions that you have is about the length of time it will take to resolve your personal injury claim. There is a very practical reason for needing to know this. You want to get on with your life, and you need the settlement proceeds to pay for the expensive medical treatments and replace your wages while you were off work recovering from your injuries. Unfortunately, even an experienced personal injury attorney cannot tell you exactly how long it will take to settle your claim—but he can give you an idea by considering how certain factors impact your case.
Factors That Will Affect How Long it Takes to Settle a Personal Injury Claim
While it is impossible to predict a firm date for the resolution of your case, you can get a good sense of the time that will be needed to resolve your case. You do this by looking at the factors that influence the time period it takes to resolve a personal injury claim and how they play out in your case. Here are some factors that affect how quickly your claim may be settled:
- Maximum medical recovery. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries. Therefore, the length of time it takes to recover from your injuries will affect how long it takes to resolve your claim. If you want to be fully compensated for your injuries, you have to know how much your medical bills will be and how long you will be unable to work. You will know this information until you reach your maximum medical recovery or your doctor gives you a final prognosis. Until you know this, you cannot realistically settle your claim.
- Documentation of your claim. Your attorney will need to collect all the documents related to your medical care, your medical bills, your lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket expenses to determine the value of your claim. He may also include some of this information in a demand package to the insurance company that outlines your claim and what you would accept in settlement. It can take time to obtain these documents from medical providers and your employer, and some documents cannot be obtained until you reach your maximum medical recovery.
- Disputes in your case. When there are disputes with the insurance company about liability or the seriousness of your injuries, it can delay the settlement of your claim. In some cases, an attorney can resolve these arguments relatively quickly by providing the adjuster with additional documentation to support your position. In other cases, the insurance company may not back down—your attorney may need to hire expert witnesses and file a lawsuit to get the insurance company to offer a reasonable settlement amount.
- Negotiation process. Even in a claim where the negligent party’s liability for a victim’s injuries are clear-cut, the negotiation process can take time, and the insurance company may raise some initial arguments as to why it should not pay the full amount requested. Once your attorney sends the insurance company a demand package, you must wait for the insurance company to respond either in a letter or telephone call. There are usually a series of communications between your attorney and the insurance adjuster during negotiations.
- Amount of your claim. If you suffered catastrophic injuries or there is a wrongful death claim, the value of your claim may be larger. When claims are worth more, insurance companies will investigate the claim more thoroughly and fight harder to deny or reduce a claim. This may result in your claim taking longer to settle, and it may require your attorney to litigate your case before it can be resolved.
- Insurance company. Some insurance companies have a reputation for being harder to work with when settling personal injury claims—at least for what the claim is worth. This may be a major factor that causes your claim to take longer to settle.
It is important to realize that you want to wait, if necessary, to settle your personal injury claim so that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Once you settle your claim, the settlement is final—you cannot go back to the insurance company later and demand more money.
Were you injured in a personal injury accident caused by another person’s negligence? Call our Fairfax law office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you file your claim and get the compensation that you deserve.