Personal injury claims can seem uncertain due to the length of time they can take to resolve. You might not get an idea of the length of the timeline until after you start the process. An injured person would like to receive the money as soon as possible.
However, different factors can speed up the process or cause delays. A personal injury lawyer can help make sure everything goes efficiently, but problems can occur.
Examples Of Personal Injury Accidents
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 them involve vehicle accidents of some form. A person could sustain injuries from a rear-end crash or a T-bone collision.
A car accident can involve a truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian. In several cases, a person hits a fixed object in a single-vehicle collision.
Product liability constitutes another type of personal injury accident. Some people buy a household item or equipment, and the item could malfunction or not have the appropriate warning labels. As a result, the product harms the consumer. In this situation, the manufacturer or seller could bear responsibility for the resulting injuries.
Medical malpractice makes up 15 percent of personal injury claims per year. The court might see anywhere from 15,000 to 19,000 cases annually. A person’s condition could worsen due to a misdiagnosis or a premature discharge. Incorrect prescriptions and surgical errors also lead to medical negligence.
Other forms of personal injury accidents include incidents from an unsafe environment. Premises liability could happen on private and public property. A person’s dog could bite someone for a variety of reasons, as well.
If you sustained injuries due to another person’s actions, speak to an attorney right away. An experienced attorney can help you determine if you have a valid claim and should consider pursuing compensation.
Do Not Wait To Start A Claim
To avoid losing your ability to sue for damages, keep an eye on how much time has passed. Once a personal injury accident occurs, you have a specific amount of time to start a claim. The judge may dismiss the case if you wait until after the deadline passes.
Every state has laws regarding personal injuries, including the statute of limitations. Each place specifies a different timeframe, and the statute of limitations can extend anywhere from one year to four years. If your lawsuit includes a claim for property damage, the claim may have a different deadline.
However, you could live in a state where the law provides a couple of exceptions to the statute of limitations. The exceptions allow the clock to pause for a time. In several cases, you do not discover the injury or the connection to the defendant until later. You could have the ability to extend the deadline.
A victim might have been a minor or mentally incapacitated at the time. The law could allow the clock to start running once 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?
When a personal injury attorney calculates your compensation, he or she will factor in economic and non-economic damages. For economic damages, you can get reimbursement for any wages you lost while you recovered. Medical bills often prove costly, and fortunately, settlements 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 could get money if you needed 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 take the loss of companionship into account as well if a victim 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 premises liability incident. Another victim could get hundreds of thousands of dollars for product-related injuries.
The compensation for a few areas of personal injury can have damage caps. The 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.
Why Do Personal Injury Claims Take So Long?
After an accident, you know you should speak to a lawyer about compensation. However, many people feel primarily concerned with the duration of their personal injury claims. The length of a lawsuit can vary from person to person. Some cases end within several months, and others can take multiple years.
The basic stages of any claim include filing a complaint, going through discovery, going through mediation and negotiation, 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.
Mediation may not always prove successful, and one or both parties may feel unsatisfied with the settlement offer. As a result, the case goes to trial and extends the time it takes to get a potential compensation. After all, the court can reschedule 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 require years. You need to recover to a certain degree and send all medical records to an attorney. The attorney can then determine the proper compensation for you.
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.
Problems May Delay The Accident Settlement
During a personal injury lawsuit, problems can come up 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 use certain strategies.
In several cases, the defense lawyer may have the at-fault party not admit to any wrongdoings. Large settlements will more likely see a lack of cooperation from the other party.
Questions of liability can arise, and your lawyer may need some 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 get out of paying compensation. The insurance company might delay the settlement process or convince you to make a statement. The company may use the statement to avoid any payment.
Another common problem in any lawsuit involves the motion to dismiss. Insurance companies frequently attempt to dismiss a case before the discovery phase. They know how to file these motions, and you could experience unwanted delays as a result. The firm you hired has to prove the validity of your claim.
Of course, some issues of an accident settlement can cause the case to go to trial. You could end up waiting longer for compensation as a result. You should find the right lawyer to combat some of the potential delays of a personal injury case.
The Process Of Receiving Compensation
Regardless of when the case settles, soon after, you will receive your money. However, the process has a few steps before you can get the check. First, you need to fill out an Order of Settlement within a limited time. You have to complete a release form as well.
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 all protect your rights.
If your lawyer does not agree with some of the terms and conditions, he or she will contact the defense for a new agreement. In certain situations, the judge has to come in to resolve any issues.
The liable party’s insurance provider generally must write and send the check. Of course, the insurance company will wait until you finish completing the necessary settlement documents. While the insurer has to write one 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 personal injury lawyer. Then, it will mail the settlement 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. A few lawyer fees come due 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 deducts the expenses after the compensation arrives most of the time. Rarely do firms charge clients when they gain new costs.
Before a lawyer can send the rest of the settlement to the client, he or she may use the money to pay any outstanding liens. A lien constitutes any debt you owe to other entities. The debt could stem from your personal injury case or relate to another charge.
For example, you might need to pay money to an ex-spouse for child support. 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 certain consequences.
In the end, your lawyer writes a check for you. You likely will receive it in the mail a few weeks after the conclusion of your case. You can then use the money to help with the rest of your recovery.
When you hire an attorney, the two of you usually talk about and agree on the fees. Each firm has different fees at varying rates. You may come across a flat fee, and your lawyer may charge one if your case appears relatively simple.
Another fee is an hourly rate, and the amount an attorney charges can depend on the individual case and the office’s location. One lawyer could charge $200 an hour, and another may charge $400 per hour.
Most commonly in a personal injury claim, you might 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. You can ask your lawyer what costs a fee will cover. For example, the fee may include a lawyer’s overhead and expenses of the firm’s staff.
Retaining A Personal Injury Lawyer Will Benefit Your Case
Attorneys’ fees might make someone hesitate to retain an attorney. A person might feel confident enough to take on a personal injury case alone. However, plenty of reasons make a lawyer 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 they knew the full extent of their injuries. An attorney can prevent you from receiving less than what you need to cover the full cost of your injuries.
You can save plenty of time when you have a lawyer on your side. You do not need to deal with the legal side often. Instead, you can focus on your recovery and other personal affairs instead of meeting deadlines and filing legal documents. Contact a personal injury attorney today to get help with your case.