Personal injury cases can be defined as the legal lawsuits that arise when injury is caused to a person for whom another third party is responsible in some way. A personal injury claim can arise out of a number of incidents, the most common ones being, road accidents, injuries caused due to slips, trips and falls, medical negligence, industrial accidents and the like. While the physical and mental traumas are the most prominent damages that occur, financial losses also form a major part of the entire affair. As such, it is important to claim a substantial amount of money so as to compensate these losses.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
Each and every personal injury lawsuit is different from the other and as such the time frame for the settlement of the cases varies greatly. The personal injury claim cases might extend from anywhere from weeks to years with the minimum being a few months. Clear liabilities, significant injuries and insurance cover result in a shorter duration for personal injury settlement claims. It is best not to settle for any amount that is less than the legitimate claim just for the sake of settling down the claim faster. In such a situation, the plaintiff receives less than what he/she deserves and the insurance agencies also pay a smaller sum of money. It is also best to file the lawsuit only after calculating all possible estimations arising out of the present injury as well as future possibilities. The accidents might lead to complications in the future and it is important for the victims to take into account such probabilities as well when filing the lawsuit. Conditions such as the loss of working ability or permanent disability must also be taken into account when victims settle for personal injury lawsuits.
Insurance agencies might also question the claim at times stating the injury to be a result of some pre-existing condition and not an accident. Plaintiffs are likely to receive settlement amounts that are less than their legitimate claims if the case is settled within a matter of couple of weeks or such short spans of time.
What are the Things Considered in Personal Injury Claims Settlement?
Personal injury settlements can take anywhere between a few weeks, months and years to settle depending on the nature of the individual case. There are personal injury settlement claims that need years before they can be settled. In such cases, the first year is generally spent in assessing the health of the plaintiff post-accident. The insurance companies are likely to review the medical records and bills in this duration and determine the exact nature of the injury and the time period that will be required in order to make complete recovery. They also try to determine if there will be any lasting issues and if so, then the nature of treatment that one might need to undergo in the future. Hence, one could say that the lawsuit is filed and the case is evaluated in the first year.
A personal injury settlement can be claimed only when all the specific details and estimations have been correctly made including information viz, medical bills and records and other such associated information. This is followed by claim negotiation and settlement. It is important to note here that a personal injury settlement lawsuit that takes years to settle usually involves a huge amount as settlement.
Factors that Can Delay Personal Injury Settlement
Certain personal injury settlement lawsuits take a longer time to settle than the others. There are three chief factors that contribute to the slow pace of the lawsuits.
- The personal injury settlement lawsuit in question involves a huge amount of money.
- The personal injury settlement lawsuit in question has factual or legal issues.
- The plaintiff has not recovered completely.
The liability and the damages are the two key factors in deciding the value of personal injury settlement cases. If it is difficult for the liability to prove his/her cause, then reasonable claim settlement is unlikely. Legal issues in the settlement lawsuit also contribute in delaying the case.
It is always the plaintiff who has to prove the defendant's involvement in the case. At times, the physicians might be unsure about the perpetrators of the damage, i.e., they might find it difficult to understand whether the damage was caused by the defendant's negligence or not. Often personal injury lawsuits involving a large sum of money takes a lot of time to settle as all the specifics of the case need to be taken into account.
Another factor that can delay the settlement claim is that the victim has not yet received MMI. MMI refers to Maximum Medical Improvement and plaintiffs often have to wait for filing a claim until they completely recover from their injuries. This gives the lawyers to assess the nature and extent of damage and file a legitimate claim accordingly. Some people might also go for short settlements. This means the plaintiff willingly settles for a small amount of money as they do not wish to continue with the lawsuit for a long time. However, this often leads to settling with an amount of money substantially lesser than what was truly deserved.
What Should You Check Before Settling Down the Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury settlements are permanent in nature and cannot be resettled or appealed once the claim is settled. Though the time span for the settlement depends on the nature of the individual case and the amount of money filed as settlement claim, there are certain factors that one needs to take into account before reaching the conclusion-
- Time span of the medical attention that the victim or the plaintiff had to undergo.
- Whether the plaintiff has received long term diagnosis or not.
- Whether the plaintiff has received the optimum benefits of treatment post-accident.
As stated earlier, the duration required for settling a personal injury lawsuit is directly proportional to the nature of the individual case. Hence, it is important to be patient when dealing with such cases. It is advisable not to compensate in cases where it is possible for the defendant to pay the legitimate claim. It is also important to ensure if the plaintiff is financially equipped enough to handle the case throughout.
A large number of personal injury lawsuits are filed every year in the US. The duration for personal injury settlements is dependent on the nature of the accident. The cases involving road accidents, workplace mishaps, accidents occurring due to slips, trips or falls and the like can be settled in a matter of about 6 to 9 months whereas industrial accidents and injury due to medical negligence can take as long as 12 to 36 months to settle. Plaintiffs need to be patient and work out the entire procedure systematically with the help of their lawyers in order to get maximum benefit from the entire deal.