If you were hurt due to someone else's negligence, you may be considering filing a personal injury claim. Whether the injury is from a car crash, slip and fall, or workplace injury, a personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you need for medical treatment, wages lost, and more.
The length of time it takes to receive a personal injury claim settlement will vary and can be based on several factors. Liability and the amount of compensation demanded are two factors that can determine how long it will take to conclude a personal injury settlement.
Liability is the state of being responsible for the accident or conditions that led to injuries. In a personal injury case, it must be proven that a driver or entity, such as a business, is responsible for the accident or injuries. If liability is disputed, it can take longer to resolve a claim.
It's important to recognize that Florida is considered a “no-fault” state, which means that when it comes to making an insurance claim, drivers have benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages no matter who caused the accident. However, this does not mean you can't bring forward a personal injury claim. If your medical bills and lost wages exceed the policy's limit, a victim can file a lawsuit against the driver at fault for the crash.
The Personal Injury Claims Process
The first step in a personal injury claim is getting medical treatment so that your injuries are documented. No matter how you were injured, whether at work, in a car, or as a pedestrian, you should always receive medical aid. Keeping track of your medical treatments, appointments, and injury status daily can really help an attorney tell your story to the insurance company. Photographs of injuries and medical procedures can add great value to your claim.
Contact an attorney as soon as you're able. Your attorney can begin the claims process as you recover from your injuries. During this time, your lawyer may gather all the necessary records, including a police report, if one was filed, medical records, insurance information, and more.
Making a Demand
A demand letter will be sent to the insurance adjuster that will detail the amount needed to settle your case. The lawyer should note that if the demand is not met, a lawsuit will be filed.
If your lawyer does not receive a response, they may follow up with a phone call.
What Response Time Can You Expect for a Personal Injury Demand Letter?
Once you have healed from your injuries, you will need to send a demand letter to the at-fault party's insurance company. This demand letter will lay out the key points on what happened during the incident and the injuries you sustained as a result. In order to receive the best offer, make sure your attorney has the following: an itemization of all damages, including medical bills, lost income, and any other expenses you incurred as a result. Overall, an attorney will make sure your letter includes:
- The reason the other party is legally responsible
- The traumas the injured person faced and currently faces
- The information about medical treatment and how much it costs
- The income loss
- The type and cost of potential future medical treatment
- Any other damages suffered
The response time for this letter varies. However, most demand letters will be responded to in a timely manner (within 30 days upon receiving the letter). After all, most insurance companies are interested in resolving an injury claim as quickly as possible.
It should be noted, though, that there is no legal requirement for insurance companies to respond to this letter. They are free to take as much time as they please when responding to your letter, and can even ignore it completely.
How Long after a Demand Letter Does a Settlement Take?
After a demand letter has been sent and received, the length of time the settlement will take varies depending on many factors regarding your case. In certain situations, the insurance company may accept your initial demand amount and pay it immediately—although this is rare.
In most cases, securing a settlement between the victim and the insurance company will takes some time for negotiations. Usually, after your demand letter has been sent, the insurance company will reject the requested amount and come back with a lower amount. You and your attorney will need to converse about the pros and cons of whether or not to accept this new amount. This process can go back and forth until a dollar amount is agreed upon by both parties.
Negotiating A Personal Injury Settlement
The insurance company will evaluate your demand and attempt to point out weaknesses, such as unnecessary medical treatments, gaps in your treatment, or even pre-existing injuries. They will then issue a counteroffer to your demand, which is usually lower than the initial demand. How long it takes to reach a settlement depends upon the monetary goals set by both the injured party and the insurance company and the willingness to be flexible during negotiations.
Negotiations can take weeks or months depending on the unique characteristics of each case.
Filing A Personal Injury Lawsuit
If each party cannot reach a settlement, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against the defendant. By filing a lawsuit, your attorney is showing that you're serious about receiving a fair and just settlement.
Filing a lawsuit does not necessary mean you go to court. After filing the lawsuit, the defendant may continue to negotiate a personal injury claim settlement.
If you do go to court, it could take some time after the lawsuit is filed to actually go to trial. The length of the trial will depend on the complexity of each case. Should you reach a settlement before going to court, which is also common, your lawyer will inform the court the case has been settled.
Why Is My Lawsuit Taking So Long?
There are a variety of reasons which may come into play and affect how long your personal injury case is taking. However, the most common reasons include:
- There are legal or factual problems with the case
- The case involves a large amount of money
- The insurance company requested documents/other information that could greatly affect the offer
- You have not reached a point of maximum medical improvement from your injuries
It's important to note that insurance companies will ask for further information on previous accidents you have been involved in, and information on injuries you suffered as a result of these past accidents. The insurance companies will use this information to their advantage in an attempt to claim that the plaintiff's injuries were not caused by the current case, but by a previous one.
If your case does involve any of the above situations, it's more than likely going to take a lengthy amount of time to settle. If none of these reasons apply to you, speak more in depth with your attorney regarding your concerns.
There Are Problems with the Case
The total worth of any personal injury case is calculated by considered liability, or who was at fault; and damages, or how badly the plaintiff was injured.
In situations when it is difficult to prove liability, the insurer most likely will not make a practical settlement until the plaintiff's lawyer proves that the defendant was at fault. Problems with damages are also common. This might involve an issue like a physician stating that the defendants' negligence may not be entirely to blame for the plaintiff's injury. It is your attorney's responsibility to prove that the defendant's negligence caused your injuries.
The Case Involves “Big Money”
A big factor that often postpones settlement is if the case involves a large sum of money. The simple fact is that insurers will almost never pay big money on a settlement until they have done their due diligence. This will most likely entail investigating every aspect of the liability and damages surrounding the case. The insurer will almost never prepare to settle for a reasonable amount of money until you successfully convince them that:
- They don't have a solid defense to the case.
- Your injuries are related to the case and are as severe as you claim them to be.
- They cannot attack your credibility.
Remember, insurers can delay settlement on a big case in order to see if the plaintiff will cave and accept less money. Most badly injured people need the settlement money and are willing to accept a lesser amount, and will not be in the position to wait a lengthy amount of time for compensation. Insurers know this and will attempt to use this to their advantage.
You Have Not Reached Maximum Medical Improvement
A settlement may take longer than expected if you're still treating injuries which resulted from the accident. If there is any way you can wait, it's better to only settle a personal injury case once you have reached a point of medical improvement from all injuries you sustained as a result of the accident.
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) refers to the state in which you no longer require medical care. If you can wait until you have reached this point, you and your lawyer will have a better idea of how to value your damages.
How Long Will it Take To Get Paid Once My Case Settles?
As soon as your case settles, you will be wondering when you can expect to receive your settlement check. You can always ask your attorney for a timeline of when to expect your check, but often, it also depends on factors including:
Release form – You will need to sign a release form that states you will not pursue any further monies from the defendant for the specific incident in question.
Internal process – The time at which you will receive your settlement check will depend greatly on the defendant's internal process. While certain states have a deadline on when the settlement funds should be received after the release form has been signed, others are allowed to take their time.
Attorney involvement – Your settlement check will be sent to your attorney. Your attorney should check with all potential lien holders (i.e. medical providers, health insurance, pre-settlement funding companies)to make sure you can deposit the check without worrying about pending liens on your settlement. The attorney may hold the check in a trust until it has cleared, which may take several days.
To speed up the process, make sure that you submit all documents to your attorney that the defendant requires before writing the settlement check. Double check that all documents have been received. Ask your attorney to use expedited shipping, and utilize return receipts in order to avoid excuses that documents were not received by the defendant or are taking longer than usual.
So How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
There is no set amount of time for how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim. Some injury claims may take only a few months, but those that go to court could take more than a year.
Personal injury lawyers at Weinstein Legal can thoroughly explain the claims process and determine if you have a valid case. Don't hesitate to contact Weinstein Legal for a free legal consultation. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations limit how long you have to file a personal injury claim.