How Long Should a Personal Injury Case Take to Settle?
So here you are, still struggling to recover from a serious accident that turned your life upside down. As the chaos and pain continue swirling day after day, one burning question likely keeps you up at night — when will there finally be some closure or compensation so I can move forward?
You feel stuck waiting helplessly without any sense of when this will end or how it will turn out. We understand how frustrating it can be. Legal cases, unfortunately, tend to resolve gradually, factoring in negotiations, evidence gathering, and establishing liability.
We wish we could snap our fingers and give you clear outcomes immediately to regain some control. The reality is that this process is unpredictable. But in this blog, we will give you an overview of what to expect.
Investigating the Accident and Sending Demand Letters
After being injured, the first thing you should do is consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Selecting a law firm with experience in handling claims just like yours is key to optimizing the outcome.
Our attorneys will:
- Conduct a thorough investigation into how the incident occurred.
- Order copies of medical records and bills, accident reports, witness statements, and other evidence
- Analyze details and identify all potentially liable parties
- Calculate an estimate of the full compensation you deserve and send a demand letter to the appropriate insurance carriers. Demand letters formally set forth your legal claim, the harm suffered, and the damages being sought.
This initial investigation and demand letter phase usually takes a few months. The faster we can gather evidence of negligence and your injuries, the quicker we can push for resolution.
Seeking Fair Compensation for All Losses
Another factor that impacts personal injury timelines is the accuracy and completeness of the claimed damages. Not identifying all past and future accident-related losses typically leads to insufficient settlement offers.
An experienced law firm will help quantify compensation for:
- Medical expenses like hospitalization, surgery, therapy
- Lost income from missing work
- Loss of future earnings capacity
- Cost of ongoing care like wheelchairs, home health aides
- Property destruction, towing/rental fees
- Pain, suffering, emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
We’ll consult with economists and healthcare experts to project values years into the future accurately. And we won’t just accept an insurer’s lowball number – savvy negotiators will justify every penny you deserve.
Leaving out key damage elements gives the defense leverage to nickel and dime settlements. But, presenting irrefutable evidence of the full financial and human impact compels reasonable resolution.
Negotiating with Insurance Carriers
After receiving our demand letter, the insurance companies will conduct their own review of liability and your claimed damages. In straightforward, low-value cases with clear negligence evidence, the insurer may make a fair settlement offer within a few weeks.
However, it’s more common for carriers to take 1-3 months before making an unreasonably low initial offer. They almost never voluntarily offer full compensation in the beginning. From there, extended negotiations typically follow as we exchange counteroffers and bolster the evidence supporting your claimed losses.
If a satisfactory settlement can’t be reached within 6-12 months, we may then take the legal step of filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
The Litigation Process
Many injury cases do reach the litigation stage. The lawsuit is initiated by our law firm filing a formal complaint with the court alleging negligence against the defendants. This not only puts added pressure to settle but allows the legal process known as discovery to begin.
During discovery, we can request evidence from the opposing side and take depositions under oath to establish facts. As your attorneys, we handle filing various motions, navigating complex procedural rules, and appearing at court hearings leading up to trial.
The litigation phase tends to add another 6-12 months to most cases. California’s civil court system currently has significant backlogs, which can prolong the timeline. But having an experienced law firm with proven results can help accelerate cases through the courts.
Settlement Before Trial
It may seem counterintuitive, but the majority of personal injury lawsuits end up settling before trial. The expense, risks, and unpredictability of a jury trial motivate most defendants and insurers to eventually come to the negotiating table. Civil litigation is a long, drawn-out process by design – the pressures it applies often lead to settlement.
We’ll engage in those final negotiations in the 1-2 months leading up to the trial date. This is often when defendants become most reasonable in evaluating their exposure and making fair offers.
While we’re always prepared to take cases to verdict if needed, settlement is usually the fastest and surest path to compensation for injury victims.
Trial and Resolution
If efforts to negotiate a fair settlement are unsuccessful, we won’t hesitate to take your case before a jury. Personal injury trials often take just a few days or weeks, depending on the number of witnesses, complexity of evidence, and schedule of the court.
The jury will hear arguments from both sides before deliberating over the verdict. Once a verdict is reached, the court enters a judgment on the case, either in your favor or the defense’s.
Of course, there are no guarantees when stepping into a courtroom – but our firm has a proven record of trial success. Savvy litigation skills, meticulous preparation, and experience give us a leg up.
From start to resolution, cases that go to trial typically take around 12-24 months or longer from the date of the injury. But once that judgment is entered, you can promptly collect on it.
Don’t Go It Alone – Consult Our Personal Injury Law Firm
The lifespan of a personal injury case involves many phases, potential delays, and procedural complexities. Having an accomplished law firm in your corner is crucial for efficiently guiding cases to a favorable outcome.
At Pasternack Injury Law, our award-winning attorneys have been successfully resolving injury claims in California for years. If you or someone you love suffered harm due to negligence, contact us today for a FREE case review.