A vast majority of personal injury cases settle before trial. If evidence strongly indicates one party was negligent and a plaintiff suffered wage loss, pain and suffering, and high medical expenses as a result, there is no reason an insurance company wants to risk losing at trial.
However, not all cases are cut and dry. It may take more time to settle your case if it has unique elements or disputed questions of fact. At DuBoff & Associates, we never make promises as to when a case will conclude until we fully evaluate your situation. Here is what goes into settling a matter.
Factors in Settlement Time
There are three factors that affect the time it takes to settle a case. They include complexity, questions of fact, and injury recovery time.
It is a standard truth that some cases are more complex than others. A car accident involving two cars is easier to analyze than a wreck involving four cars, one semi-truck, and a bicycle. Throw in other factors like road conditions and weather, and you may have a case that also holds a municipality responsible for not maintaining roadways.
Sometimes, it is the nature of the case that adds to its complexity. A premises liability case where you slip and fall in a Home Depot often involves finding security footage and proving that store management knew of the condition but failed to act on it. That can be difficult to prove and take longer to establish. Medical malpractice and product liability claims often involve expert consultations and the ability to decipher intricate information. These cases often turn on subtleties and thorough examination adds to the time needed to settle them.
Questions of Fact
Disputed fact scenarios will tie up a case for years and often require filing a lawsuit to preserve the statute of limitations [link to that page here]. This is where insurance companies are willing to fight, especially if there is a chance you were partially negligent.
For example, it is easier to prove negligence in a rear-end car accident than one involving a side impact. There are very few instances of rear-end collisions not involving negligence of the driver who collided into you. If you braked hard due to a sudden stop, it is unlikely a collision would occur if the driver behind you maintained a proper stopping distance. Likewise, rear-end collisions often occur from distracted driving or mechanical failure where it is impossible to find fault with the plaintiff.
Side impact accidents present more questions. You may have changed lanes without checking a blind spot, ran a stop light or stop sign or any other scenarios. There are more possibilities with a side impact than a rear end one. It can take time to sort these out.
Injury Recovery Time
Finally, the seriousness of your injuries affects settlement timeframes. Until there is a running total on medical bills and information regarding how the injuries will affect your future, it is impossible to make an adequate settlement demand. So, the negotiation process does not start until you reach at least 90 percent recovery.
That is why a whiplash case will settle faster than one where a plaintiff broke every bone in their body and sustained a head injury. We cannot settle matters effectively until we know the full impacts the defendant’s negligence had on your life.
Injury Settlement Process
The claim settlement process is straightforward. A majority of cases follow these steps:
- Investigation. Even before we take your case, we investigate facts to see if you have a claim. Once that is reasonably established, we collect police reports, medical records, and interview transcripts to grasp the fact scenario. While this occurs, you focus on recovering from your injuries.
- Demand Package. Once you recover and we collect evidence, we send a demand package to the insurance company. This includes a letter setting out the particulars of your claim and a proposed settlement amount.
- Response. After receiving the demand package, the insurance company issues a response. They may deny your claim in its entirety or make a counteroffer that is substantially lower than our proposal.
- Negotiation. This starts a back-and-forth process where we attempt to raise the offer. If we have access to new evidence, like updated medical records, we will provide those. Sometimes, this ends with agreement and the matter settles. Other times, we must seek other ways to find settlement.
- Civil Filing. If there appears to be no grounds for agreement, we will file a lawsuit to preserve the statute of limitations. While the court will schedule a trial date, negotiation with the insurance company and its attorney will continue.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution. It is common to try arbitration or mediation before going to trial. This lower-cost alternative still allows you to be heard and often results in a successful award. If the results are not agreeable, we can appeal and still appear at trial.
Since this can become involved very quickly, it is often in the best interest of all parties that claims settle out of court. However, this is not a process you want to navigate on your own.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
There is no other way to put this; settling cases and handling personal injury matters is work. If you are attempting to juggle work, injury recovery, and personal time with communicating with insurance companies and negotiation, it is unlikely that you will succeed.
That is why you should hire a Maryland personal injury attorney. You can focus on feeling better and managing developments, while we answer insurance company communication, collect medical records, and negotiate on your behalf.
If you suffered injuries due to the negligence of another, contact DuBoff & Associates to schedule a consultation and get started on settling your claim.