How Long Can I Expect Until My Case Is Complete?
- March 3, 2017
One of the most common questions people ask when pursuing an injury claim is, how long will it take for my personal injury case to be completed? You want your injury case to be resolved as fast as possible to replace your lost earnings, cover medical expenses, and finally move on, but it’s also important to avoid accepting an initial low settlement offer that does not fairly compensate you for your injuries.
If you are concerned about how long your case will take, the truth is your case can be resolved very quickly and within a matter of months — but only if you are willing to accept a very low offer that is unlikely to cover even immediate damages, let alone future expenses you may face.
Here’s what to expect with the timeline of your injury case and why you should avoid accepting that first offer, no matter how tempted you may be.
What Affects the Injury Settlement Timeline?
A personal injury case can be resolved in just a few weeks but some cases can drag on for several years. There are dozens of factors that can affect how long it takes to complete your case, but the following are the 3 biggest factors that slow down an injury case:
- The case has factual or legal issues,
- The claim involves a substantial amount of money, or
- You have not yet reached maximum medical improvement (MMI)
How much money is involved in your case is an important factor because insurance companies do not like approving large settlement amounts. You can be sure they will do their due diligence to investigate every aspect of your case and seek a way to deny or limit your claim. The larger the claim amount, the more time they will invest in checking into every issue related to damages and liability while refusing a fair settlement offer until they are sure they do not have a strong defense, they cannot attack your credibility, and evidence shows your injuries are what you claim.
The second important aspect affecting the timeline is how clear-cut damages and liability are in your case. All personal injury cases have a value based on liability (who was at fault) and damages (how badly you were hurt. If it’s difficult to establish liability in your case, you are unlikely to receive a reasonable offer until your attorney helps you file an injury lawsuit and hires experts to prove fault. Damages can also be an issue if a doctor cannot say what caused your injuries.
Finally, you will need to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) for a fair settlement offer. If you are still receiving treatment, there is no way to know if you will fully recover from your injuries or if you will be left with permanent or long-term disabilities or disfigurement that can affect the value of your case.
Sometimes other issues come into play as well. The circumstances of your accident can affect the timeline and even the size of the insurance company itself can be a factor as large companies tend to be conservative, offer lower settlements initially, and drag out cases.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles
You can expect to receive the first offer from the insurance company within several weeks or two months of your accident. It can be very tempting to accept the first offer as you’re facing huge expenses and possibly an inability to work, but remember that this offer is unlikely to fully compensate you, especially if you have very serious, painful, or long-lasting injuries.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your options and navigate the complex legal system while serving as an advocate to protect your rights and best interests. A lawyer can even speed up the process by gathering evidence of your damages and liability, negotiating with the insurance company, avoiding common pitfalls of working with the insurance company, and taking your case to court if you do not receive a fair settlement offer.