The answer: It depends.
If you meet with a personal injury attorney and they give you a straight answer, you might want to be a little concerned. Like any complicated legal situations, unfortunately, there is no clear answer. There are various factors that can change the length of time it takes to settle a personal injury case. Your attorney is no doubt considering all of these factors, and because every case is different, there is no magical formula to determine length. However, simply put, you can settle a personal injury case as long as you are willing to settle for less money.
But why would an insurance company offer less money than you might think your case is worth? Why are things taking so long?
Here are a few of the reasons your case may take longer than you expected.
Prolonged Medical Treatment:
There is a magical phrase in the personal injury industry, and that is “maximum medical improvement.” This is a status that your medical providers–and only your medical providers can provide you.
It means that you are either:
2. No medical treatment available will heal you any more.
Basically, it means that you are at the end of your medical treatment for whatever injury you have been diagnosed with.
After car accidents, some people treat for a long period of time. They might start with physical therapy, only to get an MRI done and it becomes clear they need more invasive treatment like injections. Some people only get temporary relief from injections, so they then look into surgical options.
Many times people who are injured want to avoid very invasive or expensive procedures. These more conservative treatment options might make for a slower recovery.
Your attorney knows that you have only one shot to settle your case.
Once you settle, you cannot go back for more treatment and get it covered by the person at fault. That means your attorney will want you to complete all of your treatment before looking at a settlement. That could mean months or even years before your case is resolved.
Problems with the Case:
In any personal injury case, there are two major things your attorney needs to prove; “Liability” (or who is at fault for the incident that caused injuries) and “Damages” (how badly the plaintiff was injured)
If there is a chance there is a question in either of these categories, your attorney will be attempting to hash out a settlement for a while.
Example: A rear-end car accident is an example of clear liability. People have a duty to stop before hitting another. However, there are cases that are less clear: like an airbag malfunctioning. Your attorney will need to hire many experts to prove the latter. This will prolong your case.
Alternatively, there might be issues with damages. Say you had a back surgery after a car accident, but, your medical records show that you have had prior back injuries or back problems for years.
The insurance company will say the back surgery is not related to the car accident. Here too, your attorney will need to hire doctors and experts to prove your case. This takes time.
Method of Settlement Negotiations
Your attorney might utilize certain tactics, which can take time.
It can take half a dozen conversations back and forth with your attorney to get to the bottom of some offers. If your attorney has filed suit, it sometimes benefits everyone to sit in a room and deal with it in front of a mediator.
While it is difficult to pin-point an end date for a personal injury case, your denver personal injury attorney should be in contact with you every step of the way, and should also speak with you whenever these factors (or any others) might have an effect on your case in anyway.