When you’ve been injured and someone else is to blame, one of your first questions will be how long your claim will take. While there is no single answer that applies to every case, there are several criteria that always factor into determining how long a personal injury claim will take.
Nature and Extent of the Injuries
To be able to determine the amount of compensation you deserve, the nature and extent of your injuries must be fully taken into account. To know the complete extent of your injuries, you need to reach the stage of treatment where either:
- You have recovered and been discharged; or
- You have reached the point of maximum recovery, and any remaining medical issues are considered to be permanent.
Depending on the severity of the injuries, reaching either of these points can take time. It is not in your best interest to rush to settlement before one of the points is reached. Doing so can mean that complications or problems occurring later will not be covered by the compensation. Settling without knowing the full extent of your injuries would be premature and could mean you get an insufficient financial recovery.
Collection and Analysis of Evidence
There are two types of evidence that must be collected and analyzed in any personal injury case:
- Evidence relating to the injuries, such as medical bills and physician evaluations; and
- Evidence relating to the accident, including the police report and witness statements.
Both your attorney and the insurance company need to collect and analyze all this evidence. Sometimes, it is necessary for your attorney to have an expert examine either the medical or accident evidence. Frequently, additional investigation into the accident is also necessary in order to determine the cause and who was at fault.
Examining the evidence is what determines both the extent of the injuries and responsibility for the accident. How long it takes to conduct this analysis depends on the nature of the injuries and the complexity of the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident.
Insurance Company and Insurance Adjuster
In any personal injury case, your attorney will be negotiating with an insurance adjuster who represents the company that insures the responsible party. How the negotiations go depends a lot on the adjuster and the position the insurance company takes.
The goal of the insurance company and adjuster always is to settle your claim for the lowest possible amount. That means a couple things. First, the initial offer will be a “low ball” offer of much less than they are ultimately willing to pay — and much less than you deserve. Second, they will use a number of different negotiating techniques to attempt to undermine your claim and reduce the compensation. In return, you attorney will utilize his or her own trusted negotiating strategies to leverage the insurance company and increase the amount of the settlement offer.
The insurance company may try to prove that you were partially responsible for the accident. In Virginia, that means you cannot recover from the other person, under the legal principle of contributory negligence. The company may also try to minimize the extent of your injuries to lower the amount of compensation. Your attorney will counter with the evidence that supports your case and the claim for your injuries.
The negotiations between your lawyer and the insurance company take time. How much time depends largely on how complicated the evidence is, how much the company is willing to pay, and how much your attorney believes the claim is worth. Your attorney will keep you advised of the progress of negotiations all along the way.
Filing a Lawsuit
In Virginia, personal injury claims have a two-year statute of limitations: Two years after the accident, the right to receive compensation terminates by law unless a lawsuit has been filed in court to preserve your right to be paid for your injuries.
If negotiations drag on, or if your injuries are so severe that the full extent is not certain within a fair amount of time, your attorney will prepare and file a lawsuit to preserve your rights. If your attorney decides that it is advisable to file a lawsuit due to the amount of time or lack of progress in the negotiations, the action will be prepared and filed while negotiations with the insurance company are still in progress. Once the action is filed, negotiations will continue.
Few personal injury cases actually end up going to trial, but some do. Often, a settlement is reached right before the trial is scheduled to begin.
How Long Does It All Take?
Every personal injury case has unique facts and circumstances. The complexity of the injuries and the accident vary widely. On account of those differences, there is no single answer to the question of how long it will take to receive compensation.
When the extent of the injuries is clear and the facts of the accident are relatively certain, sometimes a settlement can be reached in a matter of months. Other times, negotiations can take much longer, especially when injuries are severe and the circumstances of the accident are in dispute. In your individual case, your attorney will be able to give you an informed opinion about your situation and how long it may take to reach a settlement with the insurance company.
Talk with a Virginia Beach Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries and someone else is at fault, The Jeff Brooke Team is here to help. Attorney Brooke has substantial experience helping injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.