How Long Can It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
August 18, 2020
A personal injury can be devastating, not only to your health but also to your finances. If you are unable to work for a significant amount of time, paying your bills could be very challenging. Treating your injuries could also be very expensive, and you will not receive compensation to cover those bills until your claim concludes. That is why injury victims are often anxious to know how long it may take to settle their claim.
There is no set timetable for a personal injury claim. It could be resolved in a couple of months or it may take longer. If your lawyer has to file a lawsuit because the insurance company denied your claim, it could take more than a year to conclude your case.
Below, learn about the steps that may be involved in your case and how long each step may take. If you have any questions about your claim, feel free to call Phillips Law Group to schedule a free legal consultation. There are no upfront fees or obligations for having one of our Phoenix personal injury lawyers pursue compensation on your behalf. That means no risk to you.
Steps in the Legal Process
While each case is different, most cases go through certain steps before they are resolved.
Receiving Medical Treatment
The first step is usually the victim getting medical care after the accident. It is important to receive treatment as soon after the accident as possible. This helps to link your injury to the accident and could prevent your injuries from getting worse.
Filing a Claim/Contacting a Lawyer
After receiving care for your injuries, some victims call an attorney and others may file an insurance claim. When you contact a lawyer, you can discuss what happened, and he or she can determine if you may have a valid claim. A lawyer can also deal with the insurance company on your behalf to protect the full value of your claim.
Once a claim is filed, the insurance company may offer a settlement. However, any offers made this early in the process are often far below the full value of a claim.
Investigating the Accident
If your lawyer validates your claim, he or she will investigate the accident and begin calculating the value of your damages. However, lawyers generally do not make a demand for compensation until the victim reaches the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point when you are either completely healed or your injuries are unlikely to improve further, even with additional treatment. It often takes months for victims to reach this point.
Making a Demand for Compensation
Once you reach MMI, which is determined by a doctor, your lawyer can add up your past medical costs. He or she can also review your medical records to determine if you may need future treatment and estimate the cost of that care.
After calculating the full value of your claim, your lawyer can send a demand letter to the insurance company requesting a settlement. This is usually just a starting point for negotiation and the final settlement will be for a different amount.
The demand letter includes evidence collected by your attorney, such as pictures and other documentation in support of your case, such as medical bills.
Once your lawyer sends a demand letter, the insurance company has a chance to respond. The insurance company might accept the demand, but it is more likely that the insurance company will make a counteroffer. Both sides are likely to go back and forth before agreeing to an amount of compensation to pay to the victim.
Filing a Lawsuit
IF the insurance company does not agree to the settlement offered by your lawyer, your lawyer can file a lawsuit to attempt to recover compensation. Arizona’s personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident ”“ if you do not file within those two years, you lose the right to do so.
One of the benefits of hiring a licensed attorney is that he or she can ensure the lawsuit is filed before time runs out. Your attorney will also stay on the insurance company about processing your claim and responding to settlement offers. Insurance companies often try to delay and get as close to the statute of limitations as possible. That is why you need an experienced lawyer who will work hard to negotiate a settlement, but who is prepared to file a lawsuit if necessary.
There are times when simply filing a lawsuit causes the insurance company to agree to settle. They want to avoid the additional cost and time involved in going to court.
At this stage, both sides request information from each other to build their case. For instance, your lawyer may request documents or pictures from the insurance company. The insurance company is likely to send interrogatories, which are written questions both sides are required to respond to. There may also be depositions, which are essentially in-person interviews with people involved in the claim, such as police officers, witnesses, doctors and others.
Courts often order both sides to go through mediation before a trial can begin. A mediator will meet with both sides and try to help them agree to a settlement. However, the mediator cannot resolve the claim on his or her own, both sides must come to an agreement.
If your case reaches this point, it may be more than a year from the date of your accident. Both sides present their case, including calling witnesses and making closing statements. After that, the jury decides whether to award compensation and assign fault to the defendant.
Need Legal Help After a Personal Injury? Call Our Firm Today
Phillips Law Group has been representing personal injury victims throughout Arizona for nearly 30 years. Our experienced attorneys have recovered more than $1 billion in compensation on behalf of our clients in a wide variety of cases.
Founding partner Jeffrey Phillips has served as lead counsel in more than 40 jury trials and has obtained verdicts in several Arizona counties. He is also a Leaders Forum member of the American Association for Justice.
Give us a call today to find out how we may be able help. 1-800-706-3000
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