When another person causes your injury, that person might be financially responsible for your injuries, economic losses, and other damages. If the person has insurance coverage for the claim, the insurance provider generally handles the claim. Your personal injury lawyer provides legal advice and handles all communications and aspects of the injury claim for you. Hiring a lawyer early in the process is ideal.
The time it takes to settle a personal injury claim depends on numerous factors. Your lawyer works diligently to settle your claim as quickly as possible. However, many factors can impact the timeline of a personal injury case that are not within the attorney’s control.
Rushing to settlement can result in a lower settlement amount for your injury claim. Even though you may want to settle quickly, patience can mean the difference between receiving full compensation and losing a substantial portion of the value of your personal injury claim.
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Factors That Impact the Timeline for Your Personal Injury Claim
Below are common factors that affect how quickly your personal injury case settles.
The Duration of Your Recovery
Completing medical treatment for your injuries is essential for receiving maximum compensation for your personal injury case. If you settle your injury claim before your doctor releases you from treatment, you risk losing thousands of dollars in compensation.
It is impossible to know the extent of your injuries and whether you sustained a permanent impairment until you complete treatment. When you reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement), your doctor issues a final report and prognosis.
For many people, MMI means a full recovery. However, your injuries could result in permanent impairment or disabling conditions. Your doctor issues a prognosis and report describing the impairment and providing a disability rating for the impairment.
If you sustain a disability or impairment, you may be entitled to compensation for future damages. Future damages could include ongoing medical care or long-term personal care. It may also include loss of future income or a decrease in earning potential.
Your law firm may retain medical experts, financial professionals, and other experts to determine the extent of your damages to maximize the value of your future damages.
Investigating the Claim and Gathering Evidence
Some personal injury cases take longer to investigate than other cases. For example, a car accident involving another driver running a red light might not take as long to investigate as a claim involving a defective product. However, that is not always the case.
A motor vehicle accident could take months to investigate. The lawyer may need to hire an accident reconstructionist, engineers, and other experts to assist with the investigation.
Factors that can lengthen the time it takes to investigate and gather evidence for a personal injury case include, but are not limited to:
- Cases involving multiple parties or government entities
- Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents involving multiple vehicles
- Injuries caused by defective products, medical malpractice, or nursing home abuse
- Cases involving accidents with large trucks or commercial vehicles
- Injuries caused by accidents on another person’s property (premises liability claims)
- Cases in which liability is disputed
- Claims involving injuries to children
- Cases involving wrongful death
The above list does not cover every factor that could lengthen the time it takes to settle your personal injury case. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer may need additional time gathering evidence to build a strong case for liability against the party who caused your injury.
Insurance Company Negotiations
After your lawyer completes the investigation, the lawyer prepares a settlement demand. The demand is a letter to the insurance company demanding payment of the claim. The letter includes details about the claim, including why the other party is responsible for your damages.
The demand letter summarizes your injuries and damages. Your attorney may include attachments, such as medical records, proof of financial damages, and other evidence to support your settlement demand.
The insurance company could take several weeks to review the letter and any attachments included with the letter. It could accept the settlement demand and pay your claim. However, in many cases, the insurance company makes a counteroffer, which begins settlement negotiations.
Settlement negotiations could take weeks or months. Your lawyer and the insurance company go back and forth discussing the claim, evidence, liability, and damages. In some cases, your attorney may suggest that you agree to mediation to attempt to reach a settlement.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you do not settle with the insurance company, your lawyer discusses the pros and cons of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
There could be several legal reasons why you want to accept a settlement instead of going to court. For example, if there is a chance that you could have contributed to the cause of the accident or your injury, you may not want to go to trial. Under Kentucky comparative negligence laws, your compensation may be reduced if you are partially at fault for your injury.
The cost and uncertainty of a trial might be other factors to consider before rejecting an insurance company’s final offer of settlement. There is no way to guarantee the outcome of a personal injury trial, even if you and your lawyer do everything right.
Timeline for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, it could take more than a year for your case to go to trial. Numerous steps must be followed after the lawsuit is filed with the court. The party sued has a specific number of days to respond to your lawsuit, and may request an extension to file a response.
Both parties have the right to engage in discovery. Discovery is the process of demanding and exchanging information and documentation. Depositions of parties, witnesses, and expert witnesses could take months to complete.
Before trial, the parties may engage in additional negotiations or mediation to settle the case. Attorneys may file numerous pre-trial motions regarding various issues, including evidence and witnesses. The court’s schedule is also a factor in how long it takes for a case to come to trial.
Once the trial begins, it could take several days or a couple of weeks to complete. Each side presents evidence and testimony for the jury to hear. The jury decides in favor of one of the parties.
If either party does not agree with the outcome of the trial, it may appeal. Appeals can take years to make it through the courts.
Contact Our Kentucky Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Most personal injury cases settle without filing a lawsuit. However, your time to file a personal injury claim is limited by law. Waiting too long to contact a personal injury lawyer could hurt your chance of receiving the amount of money you deserve.
Our lawyers work to settle your case for the maximum amount available as quickly as possible. However, we take the necessary time to ensure that we do everything within our power to get you the most money possible.