One of the biggest questions you might have if you want to pursue a personal injury case is: how long will it take to settle?
This question usually comes up if you have an injury that prevents you from working or requires expensive treatment, leaving you struggling with medical bills, legal fees, and even basic living expenses. Here, we discuss the various steps in a personal injury case and how long your case may take to settle.
What is the Average Time to Settle a Personal Injury Case?
Since every personal injury case presents unique challenges and circumstances, there’s no average time to settle a personal injury case. Several factors affect the amount of time a case takes to settle.
That being said, reaching a settlement in a personal injury case takes anywhere from just a few weeks to several years. Ultimately, the amount of time a personal injury lawsuit takes depends on:
- The type of personal injury case;
- The amount of damages sought;
- The severity of your injuries;
- The case load in your court; and
- The willingness of the defendant or insurance company to settle.
While letting your lawyer take extra time to negotiate a higher settlement might work, holding out for a trial doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better payout. As with any case, always consult with your lawyer about the next best course of action.
Steps of a Personal Injury Case
So, how long does a personal injury case take? To get a better idea of how much time your case might take, here are the major steps in a personal injury claim process.
#1: Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Immediately following your injury, assess the seriousness of your injuries and losses. If you cannot work for more than a few days, have medical bills exceeding a few thousand dollars, or have a serious injury like a broken bone, you should consult with a lawyer right away.
#2: Filing a Claim
When you meet with your lawyer, begin your initial paperwork and let the other party know that you intend to file a personal injury claim. Keep in mind that you must file your claim before the statute of limitations ends for your injury. If you fail to file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, the court will most likely dismiss your case.
The Discovery process is the most important part of your claim. During this time, your lawyer gathers facts about your claim, including documentation (medical records, accident reports, photos, etc.), depositions, and witness statements. Depending on the situation, they might also conduct accident reconstructions or other investigations regarding your incident.
In addition, personal injury lawyers usually exchange documents with the insurance company or defendant as needed and gather a prognosis from a medical expert regarding your injuries.
Many cases actually settle during this process, whether through negotiation, arbitration, or mediation. However, if both parties cannot come to an agreement, a lawsuit may be filed.
#4: Going to Trial
If a personal injury case reaches this point, motions and other arguments usually occur between your lawyer and the defense attorney. In some cases, a settlement might be reached during a trial.
#5: Receiving a Verdict or Accepting a Settlement
If your personal injury case continues in court, the verdict depends on the jury. The defense might try to appeal for a lower settlement amount during this time. If they receive an appeal, you might have to begin a new trial. However, if you win the verdict, the defendant must pay you the amount decided by the jury.
When you win your case, either through settlement or trial, collection of the judgment begins. The payout might be given as a lump sum or broken up into payments as a structured settlement.
What Factors Might Make My Case Take Longer to Resolve?
Since there are so many potential roadblocks in a personal injury case, the average time to settle a personal injury case varies widely. Typically, your case might get delayed if:
- Your case has factual or legal inconsistencies;
- Your case involves several damages; or
- You haven’t reached maximum medical improvement from your injuries.
Cases might take a long time to settle just because of difficult negotiations. However, if you have trouble proving liability or are still recovering from your injuries, your case may take longer to resolve.
For high dollar cases, insurance companies conduct their own in-depth investigations or attempt to delay the settlement to see if the plaintiff gives up and accepts a lower settlement amount. In cases where liability is difficult to prove, it’s unlikely that the insurance company will offer a reasonable settlement. The stronger you make your case during the discovery process, the less delays you may have.
Will My Case Most Likely Settle or Go to Trial?
Most personal injury cases settle instead of going to trial. Usually, the longer a claim takes to settle, the more likely it will go to trial. If the defendant refuses to offer a higher settlement offer, the case might go to court.
Generally, most insurance companies avoid going to trial in personal injury cases because it costs more to fight the claim than it does to settle. If you want to know the chances of your case going to trial, make sure to ask your personal injury lawyer.
How Can I Tell if My Lawyer is Prioritizing My Case?
Looking for the right lawyer for your personal injury case can be intimidating. You should hire a personal injury lawyer that looks out for you and helps manage the majority of your case. The best personal injury lawyers:
- Request documents and reports on your behalf;
- Collect evidence from the scene of your accident;
- Contact medical experts and potential witnesses;
- Get copies of medical records and bills regarding your injuries;
- Communicate with defendants or insurance companies for you; and
- Answer your calls, texts, and emails in a timely manner.
Don’t hire a lawyer who doesn’t answer your questions or forces you to work with a case manager. If you think your personal injury lawyer isn’t working for your best interests, make sure to get a second opinion from another lawyer.
What Can I Do if I Need Money Before My Case Settles?
If you need cash while you wait for your personal injury settlement, consider applying for a pre-settlement lawsuit loan through Nova Legal Funding. Lawsuit loans aren’t real loans, but cash advances you get by selling portions of your settlement. Plaintiffs use our risk-free loans for a variety of expenses including rent, groceries, legal fees, and medical bills.
At Nova Legal Funding, we have the lowest interest rates in the industry guaranteed. Most importantly, you don’t have to pay us back unless you win your case. If you would like to apply for a pre-settlement lawsuit loan, give us a call at 866-985-0472. If approved, we send you cash within 24 hours.