How Long Will It Take To Complete My Personal Injury Case?
The Delray Beach Personal Injury Attorneys at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green have experience handling car accidents and slip & fall injury cases of all shapes and sizes. A common question asked by our clients is how long it will take to settle their case. To answer their question we divide injury cases up into three categories.
3 Months: Catastrophic injuries and small insurance policies.
Accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries which obviously exceed the amount of the available insurance policy limits will settle fast. Usually, cases like this will settle in under 90 days. For example, let’s presume John was rear-ended by the defendant, Dave. The crash occurred at high-speed. John was transported to the hospital, suffered two broken legs and incurred a hospital bill of $50,000. If defendant Dave’s insurance policy is only $25,000.00 it is obvious John is entitled to the entire insurance policy. In this case, we would expect Dave’s insurance policy to pay John the full $25,000 within the 30 days of receiving our settlement demand letter. The remaining work on the file will include negotiating medical bills and health insurance liens which usually takes 60 days.
Under usual circumstances, a well trained personal injury attorney will hold off on negotiating a case settlement until their client has finished their major medical treatment. Once a patient has stopped treating (or if they have reached Maximum Medical Improvement) their injury case is ripe for settlement negotiations.
Many injuries sustained in car accidents or slip & falls require several months of physical therapy. If pain persists after therapy, the injured person may be a candidate for medication, pain injections, or even surgery. Sometimes there is additional therapy required following surgery. These additional treatments may temporarily delay case negotiations because we don’t want to talk about settlement value until we have full knowledge of the life-long implications of the injuries. However, the future medical treatment will also trigger increased medical bills, pain and suffering and total settlement value of the case.
The injury case becomes ripe for case negotiations once the injured person’s medical treatment has reached a plateau. For most herniated disk auto accident cases, this usually occurs around the 6-month mark. If surgery is required, it will take longer. Once treatment is finalized it will then take a few weeks for the injury attorney to obtain the outstanding medical records and bills necessary to compile the settlement demand package. Next, insurance companies usually require 30 days to review the settlement demand package. Finally, the attorneys and insurance company may negotiate for another 30 to 45 days before agreeing on a settlement amount.
2- 3 Years: Injury Cases with Unclear Facts or Catastrophic Injury/Big Insurance
Our law firm has a strong record of persuading insurance companies to pay our client’s demands before necessitating a lawsuit. The insurance companies do not want to risk exposing their insured to a lawsuit or incurring defense costs. However, sometimes the insurance companies refuse to see the light and will not settle a case voluntarily. These cases usually involve those with unusual facts that the insurance company has a hard time understanding which may include:
- claiming big injury despite minor auto accident;
- clients with prior accidents/injuries and claiming new injuries,
- clients who did not seek immediate medical treatment, and
- accidents where it is unclear who is at fault.
An experienced personal injury attorney will file a lawsuit after receiving an unfair settlement offer from an insurance company. The personal injury attorneys at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green are well versed in overcoming obstacles to obtain fair compensation following an accident.
In other circumstances, if we know our client’s injury is very severe and there is a lot of insurance money available; sometimes we preemptively file a lawsuit before any settlement offer is conveyed. This shows the insurance company we mean business and we have nothing to hide. We put our client (with their permission of course) on the table for inspection because we are that confident that our case is strong. Each case is unique and the decision to file a lawsuit must not be made without sufficient consideration.
Law Suit Process
After the lawsuit is filed and served on the defendant, a formal process known as discovery will commence. During discovery, the parties will exchange documents, continue to investigate the case and take sworn statements of key people who have knowledge about the facts of the lawsuit. The insurance company will likely request the injured person to see one of their own doctors to better assess the case. The discovery process typically takes 6 months.
Next, the parties participate in mediation. At mediation, the parties will participate in non-binding settlement negotiations. The parties will have a strong understanding of the case at this point and mediation is often a great time to resolve a case.
The case is ready for trial if it is not settled at mediation. Most trial judges in Palm Beach County use a rolling trial docket system. This means your injury case will be set for a particular trial period (usually 4 to 6 weeks long). There can be 20-40 other cases sharing your trial docket. There is insufficient time to complete all 20-40 trials within the 4-6 week window. Any cases that are not reached during the first trial docket will be rolled over to the next trial docket. It is customary for a case to get rolled over 1-2 times before getting reached. Waiting for your trial date can take anyone from 1-6 months.
CONTACT US today for all your personal injury law needs!