If you’ve been personally injured, it’s in your best interest to seek a settlement with the help of a lawyer. But how long does it take to win your compensation?
The Big Picture
Let’s start by analyzing the big picture. Usually, when you’re seeking a settlement, you’ll work with your lawyer to devise a legal strategy. Depending on the nature of the case, you may be negotiating with other legal representatives, insurance companies, or other entities.
Most of the time, personal injury cases settle out of court; both parties are interested in avoiding a lengthy and costly court battle, so they work out an agreement that prevents the need to go to court.
During this process, your lawyer will help you gather evidence, present a case, and negotiate. This can take several weeks. If the negotiations are successful, you’ll mutually agree to a specific amount and you’ll get to take home your settlement. If you’re less fortunate, negotiations could become protracted and difficult, and you might end up going to court.
Some people end up receiving a personal injury settlement in a matter of a few weeks. In rarer cases, it can take years before your case is fully settled. It all depends on the nature of your case in the variables influencing your outcome.
Variables That Can Influence Your Settlement Timing
These are some of the most important factors that can influence your settlement timing.
- The extent of your injuries. First, you need to think about the extent and severity of your injuries. If your hospital bills are relatively minor and your life wasn’t completely disrupted, you’re going to face a much faster negotiation process than someone who has hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills. Generally speaking, the worse your injuries are, the longer the settlement process is going to take.
- The complexity of the case. The complexity of the case also comes into play. If it’s very clear that one party was responsible for the injury, the case may be resolved quickly. If responsibilities are more ambiguous or if there are too many other variables influencing perceptions of the personal injury, it could make things complicated and slow down the process tremendously.
For example, if a speeding drunk driver hits your parked car in an abandoned parking lot and there’s ample security camera footage to prove what happened, the negotiation process shouldn’t take long. But if you’re dealing with a multi-car accident with multiple negligent parties and conflicting accounts from witnesses, you could be in store for a long battle.
- The amount of damages you’re seeking. As you might imagine, the time to receive your personal injury settlement will also depend on the damages you’re seeking. Depending on your case, you may be entitled to many forms of different compensation, such as compensation for your hospital bills, lost wages, and even your subjective pain and suffering.
The greater your request, the more resistance you’re going to face from insurance companies and opposing lawyers. In other words, the bigger your personal injury settlement, the longer it’s probably going to take you to receive it.
- Your overall legal strategy. Your overall legal strategy can also play a role in how long it takes for you to receive a settlement. If you’re interested in closing the case and moving on as quickly as possible, you may be interested in accepting one of the earliest offers you receive.
But if you want to maximize your payout as much as possible, you’ll be practically required to hold out and push for more money in negotiations, which can take weeks, if not months of additional time.
- The negotiation process. Some negotiations are quick and to the point, while others take weeks to fully resolve. It all depends on the dispositions and communicative potential of the parties involved.
- The prospect of a trial. If the personal injury case goes to trial, you can expect it to take even longer to receive your settlement.
- Final logistics. Even after you when a settlement, it can take a few weeks to process. Insurance companies need to cut the check, lawyers need to take their fees, and the final paperwork needs to be completed.
It’s hard to say whether you’ll be in a position to win your personal injury settlement in a few weeks or whether it’s going to take several years. That’s one reason why it’s so important to talk to a personal injury lawyer before making any big decisions.
An experienced lawyer will be able to help you analyze your case and provide you with the advice and direction necessary to maximize your payout while minimizing the amount of time it takes to get your settlement.