One of the most haunting questions that linger on even after an insurance claim is settled is the question of when you can expect a settlement check. This question invites others, such as whether or not hiring an attorney might expedite the process. The truth is, there are no easy, concrete answers to questions such as these. The length of time it takes for personal injury cases to settle can vary substantially case by case.
This is because, if you’re in a car accident in California, only some of the factors that determine your case’s length are in your control. There are others that are in the domain of your insurer. But that doesn’t mean everything is up there in the air. Here’s a general outline of how long a claim usually takes.
Settlement Negotiations: Oftentimes, settlement negotiations can go on as long as an entire claim. Sometimes, these negotiations begin even before there’s a claim filed. This happens when insurers view the case as likely to go to trial. Other cases must be brought to trial to even get an insurance company’s attention.
Filing Suit: When a lawsuit is filed, the defendant is served anywhere from one to three months, at which time they have 45 days to respond. This means it takes at least three months just to get through proper filing, at which time pretrial discovery begins. This process can be extremely lengthy.
Alternative Dispute Resolution: Rather than a costly trial, a lot of personal injury claims wind up in mediation. This usually occurs between 9 and 18 months after the accident, though the actual mediation usually lasts no more than three days.
Going to Trial: If you do get a trial, it will be a year after the accident. In some cases, it can be as long as two years. But the trial itself is over in a matter of days if not weeks. Very few personal injury cases go this far.
It may not be the most satisfactory answer, but there is no way of knowing just how long a personal injury claim can take. But there are some factors you control, such as which personal injury lawyer to hire, that make the process go more smoothly. A good personal injury lawyer, like the car accident attorneys at JT Legal, is capable of moving the process along very quickly, though there are some cases where it will undoubtedly take an inordinate amount of time.
If your injuries are particularly severe, there’s more chance the insurance company is going to be less than fair. This is not because they’re bad insurers, they’re only looking out for their bottom line, which doesn’t always include your best interests.
A good personal injury lawyer will investigate the scene of the accident, complete with a police report of the scene if there was one and any eyewitness accounts. They will understand the specific reality of the case and gather information to support a legal argument for your compensation should the case go to trial.