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Settling a personal injury case is complex and time-consuming, often involving extensive paperwork and negotiations. Clients frequently experience frustration when their lawyer takes longer than expected to resolve the issue.
In this article, we’ll shed light on the reasons behind these delays and offer guidance on expediting the process. We’ll delve into crucial aspects such as evidence collection, damage assessment, negotiations with insurance companies, and preparation for trial if necessary. A personal accident lawyer can provide insights into the process and factors that may contribute to case delays.
Injury claims in court or mediation can be challenging, especially if you try to do it alone or make a misstep that might undermine your case. But don’t worry because we’ve got your back! Let our personal injury lawyers at Arash Law, headed by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., handle your claims without paying anything until we get the settlement you deserve. Call for a free consultation at (888) 488-1391 or contact us online.
8 Factors That Influence The Timeline
Several factors play a role in determining why one case might take longer to settle than another.
Here are some common reasons why cases take a long time:
Victim’s Ongoing Medical Treatment
If you sustained grave injuries and failed to reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), you still have future medical expenses that cannot be estimated. Once a lawyer settles your personal injury claim, if your condition does not improve, the settlement will not cover those additional medical costs. This is why personal injury lawsuits regarding severe and long-term injuries take longer to settle. Unfortunately, in many cases, the victims incur high medical costs and are under financial pressure to resolve the matter.
Your Lawyer Is Waiting on Your Medical Records.
Your lawyer or their paralegals will need all your medical treatment records once you complete them. They have to get it from your health care providers. These medical records must be certified before being used in court as evidence. Making copies is quicker than the authentication process for records. The time it takes for medical providers to return your legal team’s records varies. A delay in receiving medical records means a delay in processing your injury claims.
The Defendant Is Delaying the Process
There are several ways for defendants to slow down the process. Some use these tactics to prolong the case as much as possible. They usually act this way when they believe you are in a tight financial situation and require the settlement money as quickly as possible.
These defendants used that financial pressure to refuse to settle promptly. As time passes, you are becoming eager to get your compensation, even though it means you have to take less. Your desperation increases your willingness to settle but also reduces your standards.
Some tactics of the defendants to delay the process are:
- making it hard for you to furnish them with a copy of the claim or your lawsuit
- deceiving the victims or claimant by moving their monies or any other assets into other companies that are not parties to the lawsuit
- filing baseless claims and defenses
- refusing to cooperate with discovery requests or
- repeatedly postponing scheduled meetings or critical processes like depositions
Your Personal Injury Case Is Slowed Down by Legal Problems
Legal issues such as disputes in identifying the liable parties, the extent of liability, and the amount of damages or compensation can slow down your claims process.
It is doubtful that an insurance company will pay a fair settlement where responsibility is difficult to establish until the plaintiff’s legal team files a lawsuit and retains liability experts to establish that the defendant was to blame. The insurance company occasionally refuses to make any settlement offers because they don’t think you have the right to sue. However, the judge will decide this legal issue during the litigation process. An insurance company will only consider making a settlement offer if the judge finds you can.
Additionally, there can be issues with the damage in your instance. This can occur when the treating doctors for the plaintiff are confused about whether the defendant’s carelessness led to the plaintiff’s injuries. If doctors cannot certainly decide on this issue, insurance companies are less likely to offer a settlement until the plaintiff’s legal team can locate a doctor willing to testify, based on the medical evidence, that the defendant’s fault was the cause. In personal injury cases, it is always the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that the defendant was responsible for the damages.
Your Case Is in Court.
Once a case is filed in court, things slow down. Common reasons why a case will take longer than one would hope can include:
- Difficulty in serving the defendant or respondent a Notice of the claim: The personal injury case cannot proceed until the defendant has been properly served with the court papers. The usual process for serving the defendant with a notice is personal service. It means that the process server must personally deliver the summons to the defendant. If the defendant is not present at the indicated address, service of notice will take a few months.
- Discovery takes time. Discovery is the process by which each side exchanges information or evidence. The usual forms of discovery include:
- Interrogatories. Contains a list of written questions asked by the opposing party, which must be answered in writing under oath within a given period (usually 30 days)
- Requests for the production of documents or things. Refers to the formal request that the opposing party produce documents, electronic information, or other relevant items.
- Requests for admissions. These are written statements from one party requesting another party to admit or deny the document’s contents under oath. To illustrate, in a car accident, the plaintiff may ask the defendant to admit that they were at the place and date specified in the statements during the vehicular accident.
- Depositions. This is the recording and sworn oral statement of a witness. This requires a court reporter to transcribe the proceeding, which may be conducted through video or both. The witness being deposed may or may not be a party to the case (plaintiff or defendant), or they may be a factual or expert witness.
A party that disagrees with a discovery request may submit motions and request hearings before the judge. It takes some time.
- Court dockets are Clogged.
It means that courts are swapped with cases. As a result, scheduling hearings for a particular case can take a long time. Resetting or postponing hearings is common.
Difficulties in Computing All the Medical Treatment Costs
Accidents like car collisions could lead to grave injuries that take a while to recover from. For instance, brain damage and bone fractures could take months to heal. To proceed with the compensation terms negotiated in your personal injury lawsuit, you must determine how much of your medical expenses could be filed for reimbursement.
As long as you are receiving treatment, the amount could continue to pile up, and until you are cleared with a totaled medical bill, your personal injury case could be put on hold until all the costs are calculated for your lawsuit.
There Is a Large Amount of Compensation Involved in Your Personal Injury Case
Your settlement could be delayed because your case involves extensive damages. In this case, insurance companies will delay paying money out on a settlement until they are confident about it. They will investigate every aspect of the case and every detail of the liability and damages. You will have to convince the insurance company that:
Your injuries are severe, and you are not exaggerating the circumstances
That you are a credible person, and they will not be able to damage your credibility
That they do not have a good defense against your case.
In a large compensation case, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to continually delay settlement to see if the plaintiff will give up and not accept the entire settlement amount. Insurance companies know that people who suffer serious injuries need the money they’re trying to claim. They use this knowledge to exploit the plaintiff and try to force them to settle quickly for a lesser amount.
You Have Not Reached Maximum Medical Improvement.
“Maximum Medical Improvement” (MMI) refers to the extent of your injury-related recovery. Even though it doesn’t necessarily mean you are entirely recovered, it does indicate that your treatment has stabilized and will continue in this manner moving forward. It is vital to wait until you achieve MMI since you can only fully comprehend the total cost of your medical expenses and any long-term effects and impairments. If you are still receiving treatment, it is difficult to predict whether you will fully recover from your injuries or not; additionally, if you do, the value of your case will be significantly reduced.
To safeguard your rights and fight for compensation, you need to move on. Getting legal counsel as quickly as possible if you or someone you care about has been injured due to others’ negligence is essential.
Our personal injury lawyers have been strong partners and advocates for injured victims for many years. It would help if you weren’t made to pay for the errors of others.
Call us today at Arash Law to arrange a meeting with our personal injury lawyers and get started on your case.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
The duration of a personal injury case varies, ranging from a few months to several years.
Several key factors influence the timeline, including:
- Extent of Injuries: The severity of your injuries plays a crucial role. Less severe injuries may lead to quicker settlements.
- Settlement Amount: If you’re willing to accept a smaller settlement for a faster resolution, it can expedite the process.
- Comparative Fault: If you share partial blame for the injuries, it can extend the case timeline.
- Court Backlog: The court’s caseload can affect the scheduling of hearings and trials.
- Defendant Type: Cases involving insurance companies or individual defendants may progress differently.
- Trial Inclination: If you’re determined to take the case to trial, it can prolong the process.
Some cases are resolved swiftly, particularly when accepting the initial settlement offer from the insurance company. This may also occur if your injuries are relatively minor, you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), and the defendant’s liability is clear-cut.
In contrast, certain cases can be protracted. When the defendant is personally responsible for the compensation, they may be less inclined to settle and may prefer to take their chances with a court verdict. Cases involving severe injuries, substantial medical expenses, or long-term disabilities often lead to extended timelines. Additionally, if an appeal is pursued, it can significantly extend the duration of the case.
Understanding the Stages of a Personal Injury Claim Process
After an accident, the personal injury claim process unfolds in several stages:
Initial Settlement Offer: Following the accident, the defendant’s insurance adjuster may approach you with an initial settlement offer. Beware that this offer often aims to minimize the insurance company’s expenses, potentially leaving you under-compensated. Accepting it also means waiving your right to pursue further legal action.
- Demand Letter: If you reject the initial offer, the next step is to send a demand letter. This formal document outlines key aspects of your case, including accident details, injuries, fault determination, and a compensation demand. It sets a timeframe for response and is typically sent to the responsible individual, their employer (if applicable), and their insurance company.
- Defendant’s Response: The defendant can respond to the demand letter in several ways: by paying the demanded amount, proposing a counteroffer, or refusing the demand outright.
- Filing a Complaint: If the defendant’s response is unsatisfactory, you may proceed to file a complaint, initiating a personal injury lawsuit. This complaint is presented in court and served on the defendant, summarizing your case and reiterating the demand for compensation.
- Defendant’s Answer: The defendant files an answer to the complaint, responding to each allegation by admitting, denying, or stating insufficient information to admit or deny.
- Discovery: Both sides engage in discovery, gathering evidence to strengthen their case. This involves obtaining eyewitness statements, police reports, medical records, depositions, and interrogatories. The evidence shapes the course of settlement negotiations.
- Settlement Negotiations: As evidence accumulates, settlement discussions intensify. The courts may encourage settlement through mediation or scheduled conferences.
- Trial (Rare): If a settlement remains elusive, the case proceeds to trial. However, the majority of personal injury cases are settled before reaching this stage.
- Deciding when to settle your case involves careful consideration, and consulting an experienced accident attorney can be invaluable. While some prefer quick settlements for immediate compensation, legal experts often advise maximizing the compensation owed for all losses, including pain and suffering and property damage. Hold out for what you rightfully deserve.
Experienced California Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, it’s imperative to secure legal representation promptly. Protect your rights and pursue the compensation necessary for your recovery.
Arash Law, led by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., has been an unwavering advocate for injury victims in California for decades and has recovered over $500 Million in compensation. You should never bear the burden of someone else’s errors.
Embark on your case today by reaching out to us at (888) 488-1391 to arrange a complimentary consultation with one of our trusted legal team members