One of the biggest worries that clients will have when speaking with a personal injury lawyer involves how long it might take to reach a settlement. As attorneys are wont to do, they often answer, "It depends." Here are four factors that will determine how long it might take for you to settle your claim.
Is the Defendant Insured?
Insurers have motives for settling claims fairly quickly in many cases. The insurance company will appoint a claims adjuster whose mandate is to settle the case as long as the claim is legitimate. Most insurers want to get cases off their books, and they don't want to risk the possibility of a huge jury judgment after a trial.
Conversely, uninsured or self-insured parties may be more inclined to fight. First, they might see the loss as someone taking their money. Second, they may not fully understand the implications and risks of a drawn-out legal battle.
Does the Case Require Extensive Investigation?
Most cases are fairly easy to sort out, but some can be very complex. Do you know who the likely defendant is? Were there witnesses? Is there any video of the incident? Generally, the less investigation a case involves, the sooner a personal injury law firm may be able to wrap it up.
Bear in mind that investigations often come from both sides in these cases. Your attorney may need to track down witnesses or talk with a first responder, for example. At the same time, an insurance adjuster is going to conduct a separate investigation.
Have You Reached Maximum Recovery?
A major worry for any personal injury lawyer is that a client hasn't recovered as much as they're likely to. The reason this is worrisome is that you only get one crack at settling a case, and that means you want to get the most compensation possible. If you haven't reached maximum recovery, there's a risk that an undiscovered medical problem might pop up after you and the defendant have settled the claim. On balance, that means it's often better to take a little longer and make sure everything is known before you settle.
Will There Be Negotiations?
It's common for the two sides in an injury case to negotiate rather than arrive at a settlement right away. This process may take weeks or months, especially if the two sides aren't close to a number. Also, a defendant may insist on stipulations like non-disclosure of the settlement or not admitting guilt.