How long will it take to settle my personal injury case?
This depends quite a bit on how long your medical treatment lasts. We cannot move forward with negotiations on the settlement of your case until your doctor reports that your injuries have stabilized or are completely resolved. We do not want to settle your case before you are physically ready to move on from the accident. In settling your bicycle, motorcycle, pedestrian or auto accident case, you will be required by the third party’s insurance company to sign a full “Release of All Claims.” This means that you will waive your right to make any other claims against the person who injured you with regard to this particular accident once you have received your settlement.
Once you sign the settlement release, you can no longer recover money for damages you may suffer after the settlement. This is why it is so important to wait to settle the case until you are completely finished with your medical treatment related to the accident. For information on situations where you might want to consider settling your case before you are finished with all medical treatment (like where you have suffered a permanent injury or will require a future surgery), check out my post on how to settle your case if you have more medical treatment.
In the meantime, while you are receiving all of the necessary treatment you need, our team will gather all of the relevant information we need to build your case. We can obtain some documentation in the case (like the police report, witness statements, ambulance bills and emergency room records) even when you are still in treatment. Then, once you have completed treatment, we will obtain the final documentation and draft a settlement demand packet.
The demand packet is the universe of information in your case (police reports and witness statements, medical documentation, loss of earnings information, details about your pain and suffering, etc.) accompanied by a well-written letter setting out all of the details of your case. We place a specific settlement demand dollar amount in the letter (that is approved by you) and give the insurance carrier 30 days to respond to our demand with an offer. (For more information on the demand letter process, check out my Vlog post on demand letters.) The negotiations will go back and forth for a few weeks (or up to a couple of months.)
If we reach an acceptable number, we settle the case and complete the final paperwork, which takes a few weeks (note that if your case is against a governmental entity, this can take much longer.) If we cannot reach an acceptable number through negotiating with the insurance carrier, we will file a lawsuit and proceed with litigation and possibly trial. This process can take 18 months or longer, but the exact timeframe can be determined more accurately by your personal injury attorney once suit is filed.