How long will my accident case take?
This is a frequently asked question, and one in which certain law firms market themselves on radio or TV as having a “quick fix,” “fast track,” or “jump start” to settlement. The truthful answer is “no one knows” how long it is going to take, and there is no honest quick and/or fast track to settlement of a case. In fact, doing so may be harmful to the client’s case. There are many factors that go into determining how long an accident case may take;
- How did the accident happen?
- If a car accident, how much damage was there done to the vehicles?
- What type of injuries were sustained?
- How long is the client under medical care?
- Can the injuries be treated by conservative management or will there be the need for surgery?
- Is time lost from work due to the accident?
- Is there permanent injury?
- How many visits have there been to the doctor or hospital?
- How long does it take to gather up all the medical records and bills to present to the insurance company?
- How long does it take for the insurance company to evaluate the claim to present an offer after receiving all of the necessary medical records and bills and other evidence of damages that a person involved in an accident may have sustained.
- Will a lawsuit be necessary?
Some simple accident cases can take only a few months to resolve from beginning to end. Other cases can take as long as three years or more. I have clients seriously injured in car accidents that are still under medical care or having had recent surgeries nearly three years following their accident. For them, there certainly is “no quick fix or fast track” to settlement. The real answer in terms of how long your accident case is going to take is really dependent on you, not the lawyer. How quickly you recover from the injuries from your accident will dictate for the most part, how quickly your case can be resolved after that point. If you have very simple injuries from a minor accident, you may be under a doctor’s care for one to three months and discharged, with a clean bill of health. Once that happens, generally within thirty to sixty days, the lawyer can piece together all of the information and medical records to submit to the insurance company for settlement. Once that happens, the insurance company usually takes about thirty days to review all of the medical submissions and records to make an initial offer of settlement. Settlement negotiations for a simple accident can be concluded in the space of a few days, if not a few weeks. The more serious the accident, the more serious the injury, the more likely the case is going to take much longer to resolve. If you need extensive medical care, and any type of surgery, you could expect your case to take anywhere from 6 months after the accident, to as long as possibly three years under the most serious type of cases. The attorney also will need to document if you are treating for that long a period of time, whether or not you sustained a permanent injury that will affect you the rest of your life; having sustained a permanent injury from an accident adds considerable monetary value to an accident victim’s case. It can also take a much long period of time to negotiate a settlement on a more serious accident case. You should be in no rush or hurry to quickly conclude your case under those circumstances. Once your case is concluded and you sign off on a release, your case cannot ever be reopened. When seriously injured, the last thing on your mind should be a quick settlement of your case. Your lawyer should work with you and allow you to continue with any reasonable medical treatment that you need, that in the doctor’s view, is necessary to treat your injuries or help you to get on a path of one hundred percent recovery. The lawyer would be doing you a complete disservice by rushing you along and perhaps missing important elements of your case.
While it is easier said than done to tell a client to be patient when it comes to having been in an accident, the insurance company is hoping that you rush your treatment through and want to quickly settle your case. Instead, resist that temptation and make sure you are one hundred percent recovered and if not, that your injuries for permanency are documented so that your lawyer can obtain the best and most favorable settlement in your case. Don’t be in a rush to quickly conclude your case, whether your case is big or small, and resist the temptation to be lured by fancy marketing schemes of lawyers who tell you that they have a quick fix for your case.
Karp & Iancu, S.C. have 34 years of experience in handling thousands of accident cases. Call today for a free consultation.