If you have been involved in an accident through no fault of your own, you might be thinking of filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Doing so will help you get compensation for the damages incurred from the accident, such as hospital bills, lost income, and property damages.
However, the amount of time it takes to file a claim and receive a settlement might be holding you back. So, how long do personal injury claims usually take? Read on to find out.
Factors That Affect a Personal Injury Claim Timeline
How long a personal injury claim takes to be resolved depends on several factors—there is no fixed timeline for personal injury claims. Every case is always different, so it’s impossible to predict the exact amount of time it will take to settle it.
However, some of the factors that influence the timeline of a personal injury case are the following:
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
Some cases might not reach settlement until the injured party has reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI. This means that your medical condition has stabilized and you won’t likely need further treatment.
Why is it important to wait for your MMI before negotiating the settlement? Because you won’t know the full extent of your injuries and their impact on your life until you have been fully treated. Waiting until you’re done treating your injuries will help you avoid getting a lower settlement than you deserve.
Additionally, receiving medical treatment right after your accident will help ensure that your settlement will be commensurate with your injuries. If you don’t see a doctor immediately after your accident, the insurance adjuster may assume that your injuries aren’t serious or the accident didn’t cause them.
Amount of Damages
Another factor is the number of damages that are involved in your case. If your potential claim is worth a significant amount of money, then it’s very likely that the settlement might be delayed. This is because insurance companies won’t simply pay the injured party a large sum of money until they have thoroughly investigated the case.
Insurance companies will pay the settlement after they have proven that you have a strong claim and they don’t have a good defense against it. Until then, they will usually try to attack your credibility or downplay your injuries.
Complexity of the Case
The nature of the case also affects how long it will take to settle it. Minor accidents with less serious injuries will usually be settled in a shorter period of time. However, if you’ve been in a major accident with severe injuries, the claims process might take longer.
General Timeline of a Personal Injury Claim
Reach out to a personal injury attorney
When: As soon as possible
The first thing that you must do after an accident is go to the hospital or a physician and get treated for your injuries. Once you have received proper medical attention, reach out to a personal injury attorney to help you process your personal injury claim.
File a personal injury claim
When: Depends on the statute of limitations
Once you and your lawyer have discussed the details of your case, you may begin by filing your claim. The first step is informing the defendant that intends to file a claim. You must take note of the statute of limitations, which determines the maximum amount of time that you have to initiate legal action.
Duration: 6 months – 1 year depending on the case
The discovery phase begins after the plaintiff and defendant have properly notified each other and the court sees no reason to dismiss the case. Each party investigates the legal claims and defenses of the other side.
This is the most time-consuming part of the legal process. It generally takes between six months to a year, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s deadlines.
Settlement may be attempted
When: Before or after court motions
After the discovery phase starts, this may lead to either a settlement or a trial.
At any point in the litigation process, the parties are free to agree upon a settlement. If a settlement is agreed upon, you and your attorney form a mutual agreement with the other party and settle the case out of court.
When: If a settlement is not reached
If your attorney decides that the settlement offer from the other party isn’t fair, and no agreement outside of court can be negotiated, then your attorney will file suit and your case will be scheduled for trial.
Verdict and/or appeal
When: 1 – 2 years after filing
After the trial process, the court will issue a verdict. If the plaintiff wins, then the defendant must pay the settlement amount set by the jury. The defendant may file an appeal.
Collection of the settlement
When: After the plaintiff wins the case
If the plaintiff wins the case, then the settlement collection will begin. This may either be given as a lump sum or broken up into several payments.
Should You Still Pursue Your Personal Injury Claim?
Each personal injury case is unique—some may take a few months, while others may span for several years. The most important thing is to get help from an experienced and trustworthy personal injury lawyer who will be with you throughout the entire process.
If you’ve been thinking about filing a personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Utah attorneys at 801-INJURED. We’d be happy to discuss your situation and help you get the compensation you deserve.