During an initial conference, it’s not unusual for a client to ask how long a case might take until it’s finalized. Depending on several factors, the answer might be that it could only take a few months or as long as a few years.
Cases with clearly understood injuries, liability and a reputable insurance company on the other side might only take a few months to resolve. Other cases are going to take longer. Here’s why.
The Nature and Extent of the Injuries
In the early stages of conservative treatment, doctors might not know the extent of an injury and how long it will take for the patient to reach maximum medical improvement. For example, a herniated spinal disc might be initially diagnosed as a back strain. A course of physical therapy will be prescribed, but two months later, the patient is still suffering the same pain and discomfort. An MRI study might then be ordered, and the back strain is now diagnosed as a herniated disc. If surgery is warranted, the recovery period might last several more months. An experienced car accident lawyer is going to need all possible information on the injury in order to accurately establish the damages on a case. While you’re treating and recovering from your injuries, we’re building your case.
In many cases, liability is 100 percent clear. In others, fault issues might get a little foggy. That can happen when both parties to a motor vehicle accident share some degree of fault. For example, in an intersection collision, one driver might purportedly be 75 percent at fault, while the other driver allegedly shares 25 percent of the responsibility for the crash. That’s known as comparative negligence, and the percentage of negligence attributable to the claimant is deducted from any gross settlement or verdict. If the parties aren’t able to agree on comparative negligence, a trial might be necessary, and a jury can apportion fault. That can cause a delay in an otherwise routine claim, but it might involve a significant amount of money.
The Opposing Insurance Company
Insurance companies conduct their own investigations into claims. If liability and damages are confirmed, they reserve a certain sum of cash, and they set it aside as an anticipated loss. Upon confirming all of the damages with the claimant’s attorney, an offer of settlement might be made. That’s when a discussion must be held between the attorney and the client on whether to try to move further forward or settle the claim. Most personal injury lawyers will either recommend an offer of settlement or not recommend it. If the client wishes to settle, the attorney’s recommendation is irrelevant. The case must settle, and final paperwork and receipt of a settlement check should take less than a month.
If the case doesn’t settle during the claim stage, an actual personal injury lawsuit can be filed against the person who caused the accident and injuries. If a mutually satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, cases usually go to trial about 18 months of the date of filing of the lawsuit.
Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer
We can’t predict the future, but as experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyers, we’re able to estimate the time frame on most cases. Remember that much depends on the nature and extent of the injuries, any allegations of comparative negligence and the insurance company involved. In some cases, we’re willing to try to work with an insurer toward what we believe would be a fair settlement. With other insurance companies, we know that we’ll be wasting our time and file a lawsuit right away. In whatever ways that the injuries, liability and damages figure into the equation, you’ll do far better in the end with our experienced and effective Philadelphia car accident lawyers. You won’t have any leverage if you try to represent yourself.