Personal injury claims can take months or years to resolve. You might not understand how complex a car accident settlement can become or the true length of time required to resolve it until after you start the process. Most injury victims want to receive their money as soon as possible. However, you also don’t want to settle too quickly and wind up with less compensation than you ultimately need.
Many different factors can affect a car accident settlement and cause delays. A personal injury lawyer can help make sure everything goes efficiently, but problems can occur. If you are wondering, “why is my car accident settlement taking so long?” read on to better understand the insurance claim process and what to expect.
Examples Of Accidents That Can Lead to a Personal Injury Claim
Every year, the legal system sees over 400,000 personal injury cases. Personal injury acts as a broad umbrella for a variety of accidents. Roughly half of injury cases involve vehicle accidents of some form.
A car accident can involve a truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian. A driver or passenger could sustain injuries from a rear-end crash, a head-on collision, or a T-bone accident. In some cases, a person hits a fixed object in a single-vehicle collision, or a commercial vehicle crash can involve multiple vehicles.
In these cases, a car accident attorney can help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses by bringing a car accident case once you have reached maximum medical improvement.
Product liability constitutes another type of personal injury accident. Some people buy a household item or equipment that malfunctions or does not have appropriate warning labels. As a result, the product harms the consumer. The manufacturer or seller could bear responsibility for the resulting injuries in this situation.
Medical malpractice makes up 15 percent of personal injury claims per year. The US court system handles anywhere from 15,000 to 19,000 cases annually. A person’s condition could worsen due to a misdiagnosis, improper medical treatment, or a premature discharge. Incorrect prescriptions and surgical errors also lead to medical negligence.
If you sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligent actions, speak to a personal injury attorney right away. A dedicated injury attorney can help you determine if you have a valid claim and how much compensation you may be eligible to recover.
Do Not Wait To Prepare Your Insurance Company Claim
Knowing when and how to bring a claim settlement demand is complicated. You don’t want to send a demand letter too soon if you have not quite fully recovered from your injuries because you may need future medical care. You also don’t want to wait too long because you may be bound by a contractual deadline imposed by the insurance company.
Once an injury accident occurs, you have a specific amount of time to file a claim with the insurance companies that cover the at-fault party. To avoid losing your ability to sue for damages, you must file a lawsuit before the relevant statute of limitations runs. A judge may dismiss your case if you wait until after the deadline passes. To understand the various timeframes that control your case, speak with a law firm with a successful track record of representing accident victims.
If a victim was a minor or mentally incapacitated at the time of the injury, the claim might not be resolved until the person reaches adulthood or has a sound mind. Your state could have specific rules, and you should consult a lawyer to see what applies to your case. If you fail to file your case in time, you will likely lose out on your right to seek compensation for your injuries.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Case?
When a personal injury attorney calculates the maximum compensation available in accident settlements, they will factor in economic and non-economic damages. For economic damages, you can request reimbursement for any wages you lost while you recovered and possible future lost wages. Current and future medical bills can be extensive. Fortunately, car accident settlements and other injury claims can cover them.
If an accident made you unable to earn future income, the value of compensation could increase. Some cases award damages for the destruction of personal property. You can also request money if you need to repair or replace your car.
Mental anguish and anxiety count as non-economic damage. In many cases, the court awards damages for pain and suffering. The settlement might include loss of companionship if a victim is incapacitated or passed away after an accident.
The value of a lawsuit varies based on the circumstances and type of case. One person may receive several thousand dollars for a car accident case. Another victim could get hundreds of thousands of dollars for product-related injuries.
The rules impose damage caps in a few areas of personal injury law. A settlement can reach the maximum amount of money any one person can get. Your lawyer can let you know if damage caps relate to your case.
Sorting through the unique aspects of your injury claim will take time to ensure you receive the best personal injury settlement possible. An experienced lawyer can explain your case’s special circumstances during a free case evaluation.
Why is Your Car Accident Lawsuit Taking So Long?
The length of time it takes to settle a lawsuit can vary from person to person and case to case. Some cases end within several months, and others can take multiple years to resolve.
The basic stages of any injury lawsuit include:
- Filing a complaint,
- Completing discovery,
- Attempting mediation and settlement negotiations, and
- Proceeding to trial.
Multiple factors can influence how long you have to wait during each step. A majority of lawsuits settle outside the courtroom, often through mediation. Mediation may be required by the court, but it is not always successful. One or both parties may feel dissatisfied with the settlement. As a result, the case will go to trial and extend the time it takes to receive compensation. Unfortunately, trials can be rescheduled multiple times.
Overall, plaintiffs have a 61 percent success rate for motor vehicle accident trials. However, the success rate of other cases, like medical malpractice, is significantly lower.
Whether the injured individual requires ongoing treatment constitutes another influencing factor in the duration of a personal injury claim. Some people need months to heal enough for a case to close, and others may take years before reaching maximum medical improvement. You need to recover to a certain degree and send all medical records to an attorney. The attorney can then determine the proper compensation to demand.
Some settlements may involve a significant amount of money, and insurance companies may try to delay the payout. They tend to investigate every detail of your case and may use certain tactics to reduce or deny your claim.
Other Problems That May Delay Your Car Accident Settlement
During a personal injury lawsuit, problems can arise and delay the settlement process. One reason why the settlement process can take a while involves the lack of cooperation from the defendant.
You might wonder why lawyers drag out cases. The liable party’s attorney could take time to come up with a defense or develop support for certain strategies.
In many cases, the defense lawyer may have the at-fault party deny any wrongdoing. Large settlements will more likely see a lack of cooperation from the other party.
Questions of liability can arise, and your lawyer may need more time to provide sufficient evidence. The insurer could reject the evidence or request further information, as well.
The defendant’s insurance provider may try to avoid paying compensation. The insurance company might delay the settlement process or convince you to give a statement. The company may try to use your statement to avoid paying your claim if it can assign any fault to you.
Another common legal tactic used by defense counsel is filing a motion to dismiss. Insurance companies frequently attempt to dismiss a case before the discovery phase. They know how to file these motions, and your case could experience unwanted delays as a result. The law firm you hired must prove the validity of your claim to move forward to trial.
Of course, some issues of an accident situation simply require a trial. You could end up waiting longer for compensation as a result. A well-prepared and savvy lawyer is a strong ally who can combat the potential delays of a personal injury case.
The Process Of Receiving Compensation From an Insurance Company
Regardless of when the case settles, you will receive your money soon after. However, the process has a few steps before you receive the check. First, you need to complete an Order of Settlement and a Release of All Claims within a limited time.
When you sign the release, you agree not to pursue further action against the at-fault party. Several release forms are short, and others are lengthy. Before you sign any documents, your attorney should review them to make sure they protect your rights.
If your lawyer does not agree with some of the terms and conditions, they will contact the defense for a new agreement. In certain situations, the judge has to step in to resolve any issues.
The liable party’s insurer generally must write and send the check. Of course, the insurance company will wait until you complete the necessary settlement documents. While the insurer has to make payment as soon as you submit the release, this could take some time due to internal affairs.
The insurance company addresses the check to you and your lawyer. Then, it will mail the payment directly to your law firm’s office.
The Lawyer Distributes The Settlement First
The check goes to your attorney instead of you because the attorney deducts fees and other costs first. Usually, the settlement goes into an escrow account for a while until the bank clears the money. Your lawyer’s fees are payable after you win a case.
Additionally, a firm incurs various costs while the claim progresses. Some of these costs include postage, depositions, filing fees, and medical records. Your attorney may deduct these expenses from the insurance payment.
Before a lawyer can send the rest of the settlement to the client, they may use the money to pay any outstanding liens. A lien constitutes any debt you owe to other entities, such as medical bills. A common lien includes unpaid medical bills to a health care provider. Injured individuals may have to make a payment to their insurance company for treatment costs.
Some people fire an attorney before they hire another one. The former lawyer might create a lien to collect payment for already-provided services. Injured individuals should pay off all of their liens, or they could face legal consequences.
Finally, your lawyer writes a check for you. You likely will receive it a few weeks after the conclusion of your case. You can then use the money to help with the rest of your recovery or however you see fit.
When hiring an attorney, you must discuss and agree on the fees. Each firm charges different fees at varying rates. Your lawyer may charge a flat fee if your case appears relatively simple. Another fee option is an hourly rate; the amount an attorney charges can depend on the individual case and the office’s location. One lawyer could charge $200 an hour, while another may charge $400.
In a personal injury claim, you commonly agree to a contingency fee. A contingency fee constitutes a portion of your settlement. Firms may charge on a sliding scale, with the percentage changing depending on how far the case progresses.
You might have to spend more on contingency fees if the lawsuit goes to trial. Usually, attorneys do not apply the fee until you win compensation. They might calculate the fee before they subtract the costs from the settlement. Alternatively, they could deduct the amount after distributing funds to other expenses.
A personal injury case could come with other fees. Ask your lawyer what costs a fee will cover.
Retaining A Personal Injury Lawyer Will Benefit Your Case
Attorneys’ fees might make someone hesitate to work with an attorney. A person might feel confident enough to take on a personal injury case alone. However, working with a lawyer is truly beneficial in the long run.
If you sustained a minor injury, the injury could worsen over time. Some people might have accepted a settlement offer before knowing the full extent of their injuries. An attorney can prevent you from receiving less than what you need to cover the total cost of your injuries.
You can save plenty of time when you have a lawyer on your side. You will not have to deal with insurance adjusters, opposing counsel, or other parties while your lawyer protects your interests. Instead, you can focus on your recovery and other personal affairs instead of meeting deadlines and filing legal documents.
Call (407) 490-1271 or fill out the simple contact form for a free case consultation with one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Michael T. Gibson, P.A. today.