How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?Request Free Consultation
Serious injuries are painful and traumatic. Often, the process of a personal injury case seeking compensation for your damages only adds to the distress, but gaining compensation either directly from the insurance company of the party at fault or through a lawsuit is necessary to recover the losses associated with the injury.
If you’ve been injured and suffered significant damages, you may wonder how long you can expect your claim to take before you see a check recovering your losses. While there is no one answer, since every case is different and some are far more complex than others, understanding the process can help give injury victims an idea of how long they might expect their unique case to take.
The Preliminaries of a Personal Injury Case
What you do in the early days after your injury can greatly impact the amount of time your claim takes as well as its complexity. A personal injury case requires the injury victim to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault party. This means an investigation into how the injury occurred and who was responsible. You and your personal injury attorney must prove negligence by showing that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury to others—such as a driver’s duty to follow traffic laws—that they breached this duty, that you suffered an injury directly due to the breach, and that you’ve suffered damages from the injury.
Proving negligence and liability for damages requires:
- A thorough investigation to determine the at-fault party
- Gathering evidence proving how the injury occurred and that it wouldn’t have occurred without the liable party’s negligence
- Gathering evidence of damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering
By seeking medical attention immediately after an injury, asking for a detailed medical report, obtaining a copy of the police report, following the doctor’s instructions, and avoiding posting on social media, you can help expedite the preliminary part of a personal injury case. However, timing a claim correctly is the key to securing an ample settlement. If you make a claim too soon, you may not have a true understanding of the extent of your damages. If you make it too late, you could miss the statute of limitations if you need to litigate the claim in court. The best time to make a claim is when you’ve reached your maximum physical recovery and understand the full scope of your damages.
Negotiating for a Settlement
Once your attorney gathers evidence of liability and damages, and then carefully calculates your damages including an amount for pain and suffering, they’ll draft a strong, evidence-backed demand letter and send the demand package to the appropriate insurance company—typically an auto insurance policy, liability insurance policy, or medical malpractice insurance. Once the insurance adjuster reviews the claim, your attorney begins negotiating with the insurance company to settle the claim out of court. The stronger the evidence, the more likely the insurance company is to offer a swift settlement with full compensation for your damages. Only if the insurance company undervalues a valid claim or denies it completely does the case proceed to a lawsuit in court. Your attorney must file the lawsuit within your state’s statute of limitations for personal injury—usually 2 or 3 years, depending on the state.
Court Litigation for Personal Injury
If the insurance company of the negligent party fails to offer an ample settlement for your damages, the case proceeds to a courtroom in a personal injury lawsuit. Both sides present evidence to a judge and jury. While court litigation for a personal injury takes longer than an out-of-court settlement and may require the injury victim’s testimony in court, jury awards for damages are often higher than a settlement.