There are many factors that influence how long it takes to settle a personal injury case. One of the main factors is how serious the injuries are and how much should be owed in damages.
The process starts when your lawyer interviews you and gets copies of all medical bills and records pertaining to your injuries. We then calculate a demand package that includes monetary losses and non-monetary damages.
Medical bills are one of the most important elements of a personal injury case. They can include doctor visits, medication, diagnostic tests like MRIs, surgeries and procedures, and any in-home care you may need, such as wound care specialists and visiting nurses. Your attorney will work hard to get you as much compensation as possible for your medical bills.
In some cases, hospitals or health insurance companies will place a lien on your settlement to recover the money they spent on your care. This process is called subrogation and can take a portion of your award. Your lawyer will often negotiate the liens to reduce their amount and put more money in your pocket.
Another major factor in a personal injury claim is the severity of your injuries. High medical bills, property damage and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, will usually result in a higher settlement.
Your lawsuit will begin with the filing of a complaint that describes what happened and names the defendants. Then comes the discovery stage, which accounts for a significant amount of time in most personal injury cases. Both sides exchange information and evidence through documents, interrogatories and depositions, which are people testifying under oath outside of court. This can take weeks or months and allows both sides to develop their arguments before a trial.
Suffering injuries in a car accident are never pleasant, but they can be even more distressing when the injuries require the injured party to miss work. The missed work can range from days to months and in severe cases, the injury can permanently impair future earnings potential. Fortunately, victims can recover lost wages as part of a personal injury settlement.
The amount of past lost wages can be proven easily with pay stubs, tax records and other wage documentation. The calculation for future losses can be more complex and requires expert testimony from a forensic occupation or financial economist. Additional factors that can be taken into account are bonuses, commissions and other perks like company vehicles or free meals that may have been denied due to the injury.
When a demand is made for compensation, the insurance company will usually make a counteroffer. This back and forth process can be lengthy, but a skilled personal injury attorney will help you understand the value of your case and will not settle for less than the amount you deserve.
If the settlement negotiations stall, a lawsuit will likely be filed by your lawyer. However, only 4% to 5% of personal injury lawsuits ever go all the way to trial. The insurers are aware of this, so they are more willing to negotiate a fair settlement with an experienced law firm like Raphaelson & Levine.
Damages are meant to compensate victims for the harm others have caused them. This includes reimbursing them for expenses they have already incurred, as well as compensating them for future losses. Depending on the nature of an injury, these damages may include pain and suffering, lost income, future medical bills, or other costs. There are two main types of damages in personal injury cases: general and special.
General damages are more difficult to calculate and can be based on things like emotional trauma or the loss of enjoyment of life. They can also be based on the injury’s impact on a victim’s future potential earnings or career prospects. A judge will have to assess these factors and award damages accordingly.
Economic damages are more tangible and can be proven through a paper trail. This could include medical bills, receipts, and other documentation. In some cases, a medical expert might need to be brought in to testify about the future costs of a victim’s injuries.
One of the biggest reasons a personal injury case settles is that insurance companies want to control their risk and avoid high damages awards. They also don’t want to take the risk of going all the way to trial in front of a jury and potentially losing. Settlements allow both parties to get a fair amount of money without the expensive risk of a trial.
Final release and settlement agreement
Having a lawyer at your side is important for the personal injury settlement process. Attorneys can start the investigation early, obtain and review the required records, and negotiate with insurance companies to get you a fair settlement.
Insurance providers typically have legal teams that make it their job to pay out as little as possible on claims. The insurance company may also be hesitant to take a case to trial in the face of a jury that could award significant damages to a plaintiff.
In some cases, the insurance company may take a while to make a settlement offer. This is often because they are waiting to see if the plaintiff has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). It’s recommended that victims wait until their injuries have stabilized to accept a settlement.
Once a settlement has been agreed upon, both sides will sign a mutual release and settle the dispute. This will end the lawsuit and prohibit the plaintiff from pursuing additional claims against the defendant.
Once the final release and settlement agreement have been signed, the at-fault party’s insurer will write the settlement check(s). Oftentimes, the checks are made out to the injured person and their lawyer so that they can deposit it into a trust account on behalf of their client. This is especially helpful if the injured person will be owed money from third parties, such as their medical providers.