No matter what caused your car accident, if you’ve suffered a severe injury, you want to know how long it will take for you to get the settlement you deserve. You might be getting worried that you’ve exhausted your vacation time and sick days. And you’re losing your paycheck every two weeks. Of course, those medical bills just keep piling up, with no end in sight.
The personal injury attorneys with The Eberst Law Firm will be ready to fight to help you get every penny you have coming. We’ve helped clients in cases similar to yours for several years. And we know how to get results. We won’t ever make any promises. But we can guarantee that we’ll do everything we can to hold those responsible for your injury accountable.
Process of a Car Accident Lawsuit
It’s completely understandable that you at least have a general idea of how long it will take for your car accident case to either reach a settlement, or reach a verdict in a courtroom. The following is some information on how the typical car accident case works.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
The most important thing to do after being involved in a car accident, of course, is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once you’ve started to receive the treatment you need, the next most important thing will be to hire an attorney as quickly as you can. But make sure you turn to someone who has experience in this area of the law, and will also – once they have all the facts of the case – have a good idea of how much your case is worth.
When you have a skilled legal representative by your side, you can put all of your focus toward recovering from your injury, so you can get back to normal as fast as possible. Your attorney will take care of everything else – investigating the accident, communicating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, negotiating with that company, and more.
In order for the investigation to be as effective as possible – and to uncover the evidence that will make your case its strongest – you’ll need to assume this will take a few weeks. Your attorney can give you a more specific idea once the investigation begins.
Speak with Insurance Companies
Your attorney will then send a “demand letter” to the insurance carrier that covers the at-fault driver. This letter will include the total compensation to which you’re entitled, including not only what the attorney has calculated regarding your current damages, but also the anticipated expenses you’ll face in the future.
File a Complaint
There’s a good chance the insurer will refuse to initially comply with that demand letter. If that happens in your case, then your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit. While the actual process of filing only takes a few minutes, it could take weeks in order to prepare that complaint. Again, your attorney will need all of the facts – this includes performing a detailed investigation. That’s one of the reasons why fast action is necessary when it comes to getting legal help. The faster you do it, the earlier that investigation can begin.
This is the phase that occurs after the lawsuit is filed. Discovery is where representatives for the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the at-fault driver) exchange the information they’ve uncovered through their respective investigations into the accident. This process will almost always take a few months. In some instances, it can take as long as a year.
Finalizing Medical Treatment for Injuries
It could be quite a while, however, before the demand letter is even sent. The reason is, again, your attorney needs to have all the facts possible, so they can demand the highest amount of compensation possible. This means waiting until you’ve reached what is known as “maximum medical improvement.” You’ve reached this point when you’ve recovered completely, or when you’ve reached the maximum level of recovery that can be reasonably expected. This could take weeks, months or even longer.
Personal Injury Settlement Negotiations
It would be great, of course, if the insurance company would simply do the right thing and make a fair settlement offer. If that happens (and it sometimes can) quickly, then your case will be complete and you’ll be able to get on with your life.
But even if a lawsuit is filed, a settlement can still happen at any time. Actually, the vast majority of car accident claims end with a settlement before any sort of trial begins. But you’ll need an attorney who knows how to accurately calculate damages, including your medical bills, lost wages and more.
If your case is going to settle before trial, it will usually be after discovery. The reason is that insurance companies will typically receive evidence they didn’t previously have. This evidence can be so powerful that the insurer will realize it wouldn’t have any chance of winning in court.
Trial (if Necessary)
There’s a chance the insurer will stick by its guns and refuse to settle. If they do, then your case will have to go to trial. The good news is that this only happens in a very small minority – as little as 5-10% – of cases. If it does, then it will probably only take a few days, unless the case is extremely complex. That could mean it will take months.
Issues that May Arise and Delay Your Car Accident Settlement
Of course, there’s a chance that certain issues could arise that will delay the length of time it will take for you to receive your money. There could, for instance, be some sort of complication involved with your injury, and it may take longer to treat than was originally believed. This will mean that your attorney will need to demand more money than they first thought. There could be some sort of administrative delay, such as the insurance company having a huge backlog of claims.
All Car Accident Cases are Different
One of the most important things to remember will be that no car accident cases are exactly alike. These differences can have a major impact on how long it will take for you to receive compensation. No reputable attorney will ever make any kinds of promises regarding either how much money you’ll receive, or how long you’ll have to wait. They can give you very well-educated guesses, but if they make promises you should consider hiring another legal representative.