Instead of speculating on the duration of your case, let’s look at the steps we’ll take to prepare your claim for insurance settlement, or an injury court case, so you can better understand why it’s difficult, at this point, to predict how long the process will last.
When you first visit us for legal counsel, you’ll provide the details related to your accident and injuries. Next, we’ll conduct a thorough investigation, interview witnesses, and assemble evidence. We’ll monitor your medical progress and get records and reports from the hospital and your doctors. Then, we wait for whatever amount of time it takes for you to fully recover; or, until you reach a plateau where your healing stops. This period of recovery can take six months to a year, or longer, depending on the severity of your injury.
Understand, your case will take time to settle. Your biggest possible mistake is settling too soon, for too little.
No one can accurately predict how long your case will take to settle. Beware of the lawyer or insurance adjuster who promises you a “quick” settlement. A premature settlement is a tragic mistake with lifelong consequences.
Let’s look at an example of what can happen if you get anxious and settle too soon. Imagine you’re injured in an automobile accident on New Year’s Day. You were treated at the emergency room but, luckily, you didn’t have to be admitted. Your overall stiffness and soreness caused by the accident begins to improve, but you realize that the discomfort in your neck is getting worse, not better. Your family doctor sends you for a period of physical therapy. He takes you off work. By April, you’re doing somewhat better, but your doctor feels you should consult an orthopedic surgeon to determine what’s causing your continued neck discomfort.
By this time, you’ve been off work for three months. Your money supply is short. You have bills to pay. You desperately want to get your case settled; to “just get it over with.” You call your lawyer and instruct him, or her, to “get this case settled.” The easy course for us is to agree and work out a quick, but superficial settlement, that satisfies your current needs. However, as expert injury lawyers, we would advise you that settlement, at this point, is premature. Let’s see why.
Suppose you follow through with your orthopedic consultation. The surgeon discovers you have a ruptured disc in your spine that requires major spinal surgery. You’ll never return to the level of heavy physical work you may have done before the accident. Suddenly, what first appeared to be a relatively minor injury involving a stiff or sore neck becomes a life-changing event. Had you settled too quickly, the massive impact of this accident on the rest of your life would never have been properly taken into account in evaluating your case. The above example represents events we see repeatedly in our practice.
The bottom line is, be patient. Wait until you’re medically stable before we begin final settlement negotiations. Your doctors have to be able to tell us what the future holds for you. Will you require more treatment? Will some degree of disability afflict you? Will your recreational activities be limited? Once these questions are answered, we’ll begin preparing for negotiations with the insurance company.
In short, to accurately predict how long it will take to resolve your claim is virtually impossible. However, one thing is certain- a premature settlement is a tragic mistake.