This is an article by Modoline Altenor, your personal injury attorney serving all of greater Orlando.
Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer:
How Long Will My Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
Here’s a scenario:
You’ve been injured, whether through negligence or a deliberate act by another person, company, product, or entity. You’ve made the decision to file a personal injury lawsuit, but you find yourself worrying.
Will this be expensive?
Will this drag on for years?
When will I get the compensation I so desperately need?
Hi, my name is Modoline Altenor, your personal injury attorney serving all of Orlando and the state of Florida.
This Orlando personal injury lawyer understands. Most of the time, our clients do need their money quickly. They’re suffering under the weight of lost work and medical bills that pile up faster than they can be paid. That kind of thing can impact your long-term credit, and really lower your quality of life.
It’s logical, given this, that a person might wonder how long a lawsuit is going to take. After all, personal injury claims are rarely fun. They usually involve depositions, interviews, and independent investigations. It’s not uncommon for you to be required to submit to examination by multiple doctors to determine the extent of your physical and psychological injuries.
So how long does this kind of thing take?
Settling a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury occurs all the time, and it’s usually divided into two categories when lawsuits arise: physical and psychological injury. Many injury claims involve both. Automotive accidents, slip-and-falls, and work injuries – these can all lead to physical injury.
Physical injury usually leads to medical care, and the associated stress and expense can be treated as psychological injury.
The cost to you can be extreme. If you need to be hospitalized or require emergency room treatment, EMT services, or an ambulance ride, you’re staring down the barrel of quite a lot of bills.
That’s where personal injury claims can help. You can file claims against the person or entity that injured you (or their insurance) and register a case to claim compensation.
To do that, you need a personal injury attorney. There is no good way to do this kind of thing on your own. Navigating civil and criminal litigation, calculating damages, and negotiating settlements is an extremely delicate business, and you need someone with the skill set and expertise in your corner.
Generally, we try to settle your case outside of trial, but this is not always possible. When all involved parties are willing to negotiate in good faith, the process is simpler and faster.
Settling Vs. Going To Trial
Settling a case is ideal for you if you absolutely can’t wait to receive compensation. You’ll agree to accept a smaller amount of money (below the claimed damages) in order to get the other side to agree to pay without going to court. As a general rule, the more you’re willing to compromise, the faster the settlement process will go.
On the other hand, that also means that a quick settlement comes with a smaller payout.
Going to trial occurs when negotiations break down and no agreement can be reached. If you’re convinced you’re in the right, but the insurance company or other party simply won’t pay, we’ll take your case before a judge and jury and see that you get what you deserve.
Things That May Delay Your Personal Injury Settlement
Some personal injury cases just do take a long time to settle, even out of court.
There are a few reasons this might be the case:
If any of the above scenarios describe you, you may have to be quite patient. For instance:
Problems With Your Case
What kind of problems would delay a case?
That’s a fair question. As an Orlando personal injury law firm, we’ve encountered our share of issues. The value of a case is determined by two major factors: who is at fault and how badly was the plaintiff hurt?
Liability is the threshold issue. If it cannot be proven, the insurer is unlikely to provide a reasonable settlement offer. We see this most often with cases involving defective products, but it can also happen in cases where the defendant can claim that the plaintiff willingly undertook risk before the injury. You might encounter that claim in injuries sustained while playing sports or adventuring.
In some cases, the insurance company may claim that you have no legal right to sue, and they will not make a substantial offer on your case until a judge or jury has ruled that you can sue.
You can also run into problems with damages if there are disagreements, for instance, as to the extent of your injuries. Medical professionals may be unable to say unequivocally that the injury was caused by negligence by the defendant in your case. Burden of proof always rests on the person or persons suing (the plaintiff, which in this instance is you).
If doctors aren’t sure, the insurer is very unlikely to offer you a substantial sum, and may make no offers at all.
How do you fix this?
Your personal injury lawyer will work with you to produce a report by a reputable, honest doctor, or find one willing to testify on your behalf. Once they’ve assured the insurance companies or judge that your injuries are the fault of the defendant, your case can proceed to negotiations – and the insurance company will be ready to make an offer worth talking about.
Big Money Cases
Large damages can also slow a case down. If there are hundreds of thousands or even millions on the line, an insurance company is naturally going to slow their process to a crawl. This isn’t necessarily because they’re bad, but they have to do their due diligence before agreeing to part with enormous sums of money.
That means they’ll send an insurance claims investigator. That person will take a fine-tooth comb to every single aspect of the case, looking for anything the insurance company can use to reduce the settlement offer or undermine your case.
Unless they are certain they:
Lack a strong defense to their case
Have confirmed the severity of your injuries
Cannot paint you as untrustworthy
They will not settle the case with the amount of compensation you deserve.
Here’s an important point:
You probably couldn’t figure out on your own precisely what you deserve. That’s our job. As Orlando personal injury attorneys, we are trained in every federal and state law that could apply to an injury claim, and are able to negotiate for every last penny you deserve, including money you’d never thought to ask for.
Sometimes, insurance companies will stubbornly delay settlement in the hopes that you, desperate for some compensation to ease your situation, will settle for less money. Badly injured plaintiffs are often in dire straits, and are unable to wait as long. The “delay, deny, distract” tactic employed by these insurers is an immoral one, certainly, but not one that will fool or delay an attorney as driven as the Altenor Law Firm.
They’ll try to wait you out.
We’ll show them why that’s a bad idea.
Maximum Medical Improvement
If you are still undergoing treatment, there is a legitimate reason to delay your case. As your lawyer, I would advise you to hold out until the end of treatment, if you can. Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is the point at which you have healed as much as possible from the injuries you sustained.
Why wait until then?
If you can hold out, we will know how best to value your damages. If you are still in treatment, your recovery (and the cost of that recovery) is uncertain. If you never fully recover, your case is worth more, and if you do, it is worth less.
It’s dangerous to negotiate a case where that simply isn’t clear. You are gambling with your medical and financial future.
Personal Injury Short Money Settlement
Here’s the thing:
It’s impossible to give you an average answer, because every case is different. We’ve settled in two weeks. We’ve settled in two years. We’ve gone to trial and fought tooth and nail with obstinate insurance companies.
But what can you do if waiting isn’t an option?
You can tell your lawyer you’re ready to settle for short money. If you know you’ll walk away with less, but can’t hold out for the full damages, we’ll negotiate the best short money we can.
Insurers might offer anywhere from 5-40% of what could be had at a trial. Perhaps that’s enough to consider it, perhaps not. You’ll have to decide, but our Orlando personal injury law firm is equipped to advise you to make the best decision you can.
That means that, even if you are prepared to settle, you need a personal injury lawyer to advise you the risks and potential rewards of a quick settlement.
Better still, we’ll know what your short money should look like, and we can make sure that even if you’re settling for less, it’s the most less you can get.
For more information on evaluating your case and settling a personal injury claim, reach out to us at the Altenor Law Firm today.