How Long Will it Take My Personal Injury Case to Settle?
If another person or party causes you injury or harm, the personal injury laws in New York allow you to seek compensation for your damages and losses.
The personal injury system is designed to compensate a person financially when they are injured in an accident. The money cannot undo the injury, but it is intended to make the person “whole” after negligence or wrongdoing caused losses and damages.
It may be tempting to settle quickly so that you can receive your money. However, quick settlements often favor the insurance companies. Let’s discuss personal injury cases in more detail and the factors that determine how long it takes to settle a personal injury case.
What Types of Situations Result in a Personal Injury Claim?
Numerous situations can result in a personal injury claim.
Examples of incidents that might result in an injury claim include:
- Car accident
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Premises liability claims
- Slip and fall accidents
- Mass transit injuries and accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Defective product claims
- Nursing home abuse
- Wrongful death
There are many more accidents and situations that could result in a personal injury claim. Claims for personal injury generally result from negligence, intentional acts, carelessness, or recklessness.
What Are the Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury damages typically fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Punitive damages may be awarded in very specific cases, but they are rare.
Economic damages compensate for your financial losses. They include expenses such as the cost of medical treatment, loss of income, and personal care.
Non-economic damages compensate for the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident. It can include physical, mental, and emotional suffering. This category of damages also includes compensation for permanent impairments, loss of quality of life, and psychological injuries.
The value of your injury claim depends on several factors. The one thing to remember is that you could lose money if you settle your claim too quickly.
The insurance company may pressure you to settle your case, but you need to wait until you reach “maximum medical improvement” before discussing settlement offers.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
The severity of your injuries has a significant impact on the timeline of your personal injury case. If you sustain minor injuries that heal quickly, your case could settle quickly if another party is clearly at fault.
However, if you sustain traumatic injuries, your case will take longer to settle.
You do not want to accept a settlement agreement until you reach maximum medical improvement or MMI. When you reach MMI, no further medical treatment will improve your condition. For some individuals, MMI is a full recovery, while other individuals have permanent disabilities and impairments.
Until you reach MMI, you cannot be sure what damages you sustained because of the accident.
If you have a permanent disability, that increases the value of your personal injury claim. You may require long-term medical care and personal care. You may not be able to return to work, or your earning potential may decrease because of the disability.
All of these factors impact the value of your claim. Therefore, the amount of time it will take to settle your case is directly tied to the time it takes you to reach maximum medical improvement.
Other Factors That Impact the Timeline for a Personal Injury Case
The severity of your injuries and the duration of your recovery are not the only factors that can impact the time it takes to settle your case. The following factors could also impact the timeline:
We must identify how you were injured, the party’s responsible for your injury, and gather evidence proving fault. Investigating the cause of your injuries may take several months. We must gather documents and information from a variety of sources.
Some cases will be more complex than others. Our legal team works diligently to complete the investigation as soon as possible. However, we do not want to rush through the investigation and miss vital evidence that could be the key to winning your case.
We must also gather evidence of your damages. Evidence includes medical records, proof of income, medical bills, receipts, photographs, statements, and your testimony regarding your pain and suffering.
Most of the proof of your damages is not available until after you reach MMI. After receiving all of the evidence, your personal injury attorney analyzes the evidence to calculate the correct value of your injury claim. In cases involving permanent impairments, we may consult with financial and medical experts to accurately value future damages.
Disputes Regarding Fault
New York is an at-fault state for personal injury claims. We must prove that the other party was negligent or strictly liable for your injuries and damages. If there are disputes regarding fault, it could take longer to settle your case.
We may need to retain accident reconstructionists, investigators, and other experts to assist with the investigation. If the other party continues to deny fault, we may need to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Most personal injury cases settle without filing a lawsuit. It may take additional time to gather evidence and aggressively negotiate a settlement when the other party disputes fault, but it is possible.
When an injured victim files a lawsuit, it lengthens the time it takes to resolve a personal injury claim. A lawsuit could take more than a year to go to trial. However, there are some cases in which filing a lawsuit is the best option for recovering the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.
The other reason for filing a lawsuit is because the statute of limitations is about to expire. The statute of limitations sets the deadline for filing a lawsuit. If the other party refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, we may need to file the lawsuit.
What Happens if I Accept a Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company?
If you accept a settlement offer, it ends the dispute. You agree to accept a specific amount of money to release all claims against all parties.
That means that you cannot demand more money after signing the settlement agreement with the insurance company. Even if you discover additional damages or injuries, you are bound by the terms of the settlement agreement.
Therefore, it is not wise to rush to settlement. By doing so, you give up your right to file a lawsuit or seek additional damages. You need to be sure that the amount you accept fully compensates you for your injuries.
Contact Our New York Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Personal injury cases can be complicated. Insurance companies may pressure you to settle your claim quickly. You want to make sure you understand your legal rights and options before making any decisions.
Personal injury law firms represent individuals in personal injury lawsuits. An injury lawyer offers legal advice and determines the best way to handle your personal injury case.
Before you agree to a settlement offer, talk with our New York personal injury attorneys to ensure you receive a fair settlement for your injury claim. There is no charge for the initial consultation.