Lawsuits related to personal injury has been notorious for taking ages to be resolved. It is very likely that you have heard frustrating incidences of people going to the courthouse for ages without any solution in sight.
You may also have heard someone getting cheated by insurance companies. You probably know someone who is dealing with one, and you feel discouraged to file your case.
However, the duration of time it takes to settle a personal injury case is very subjective. Yes, there are a lot of factors that influence the outcome. One person’s lawsuit may be resolved in a matter of months while another may take years.
What are the reasons for case delay?
The duration primarily depends on the nature of the case. However, there are a lot of factors involved in one single case. Not to mention the multiple parties involved. Some of the most common reasons why your personal claim settlement may be getting delayed are:
01. Legal issues and other complications.
One of the primary reasons why your settlement can take forever is the legal issues involving the case. The reason can be determining liability or who is responsible for the harm. And the level or severity of damages caused to the plaintiff.
Determining liability and fault can be challenging because the act can be categorized as negligent or careless or intentional. Unless the plaintiff and his or her legal team can prove that the dependent was guilty, the insurance company will not pay the settlement.
There have been cases where the defendant’s insurers state that the plaintiff has no right to sue their client. In such types of cases, they will not bother to offer a minimum settlement.
These cases are some of the worst, and they can go on forever. In such a case, the only solution is to get a judge to rule out the issue and grant you the right to sue for damages.
The severity and the level of damage inflicted on the plaintiff is another complication. It can occur when the medical practitioner working on the plaintiff’s case cannot determine if the physical injuries are a direct result of the defendant’s negligence.
Since the doctor was not present at the scene of the accident, he or she can only rely on your word and integrity.
When it comes to personal injury cases, it always falls on the plaintiff to document and prove that it was indeed due to the defendant’s fault. You are the best and the only witness at the scene of the accident, apart from the defendant.
Bear in mind that insurance companies will not simply hand out the settlement on a platter. Although they will eventually make an offer, they will do all they can to stall it or not transact the payment at all.
Therefore, it is up to you to locate a doctor or physician who can testify that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions. It should be based on the medical pieces of evidence, of course.
02. Maximum Medical Improvement.
Maximum medical improvement or MMI is the cap on the settlement of personal injury claims. It is determined after you have undergone all the medical treatments and you have either fully recovered or achieved some stability in your treatment.
The advantages of waiting till you are done with all the treatments and arriving at MMI is that you get the best deal from the settlement. It will include all the medical expenditures that you underwent in the aftermath of the physical injury as well as emotional injury.
The downside of it is the uncertainty and waiting. If you suffered severe injuries, you never know how long it will take for you to recover. Also, the case will take its time after you file it. This is one of the legitimate reasons why your personal injury case can get delayed.
Settlements that are reached before the injury claims arrive at MMI typically do not cover extra expenditures or loss. Physical disability caused by the injury, loss of income, emotion distress claims and other medical expenses are excluded.
Do not arrive at a settlement offer before you reach maximum medical improvement, unless there is absolutely no other option.
03. A hefty amount of compensation.
Another important factor that can prolong your case is the amount of money you seek for damages. The insurance companies will make every effort to ascertain the validity of your claims.
They will take a lot of time investigating every aspect of your settlement case. They might also delay the settlement offer as a tactic to try and wait for the plaintiff to settle for a lesser amount. In some cases, the latter works as the party which suffered extensive injuries end up needing the money urgently.
When there is a substantial amount of compensation money involved, it is up to you to have concrete proof. These can include:
- There is valid and enough medical evidence that reveals the severity of your injuries.
- Your reputation is unquestionable.
- There is no way for them to doubt your credibility.
- Their case is simply not strong enough.
What if you needed the money right away?
Not everyone has saved up enough for a difficult time or a rainy day. Some of us can really use the compensation money on the spot in case of an unfortunate accident. In such a dire circumstance, there is a thing called “short settlement” that you can choose. However, this can be double-edged sword so consider it carefully before you accept it.
The good thing about the short settlement is you don’t have to wait for years for compensation. You get the compensation quickly in a matter of weeks. This can be advantageous if you are in urgent need of money for paying medical bills.
The major disadvantage is that there is no way to determine the best settlement amount for your injuries, however grave or life-threatening. The fact is, it is still an unregulated factor, and you can lose a lot of money. Insurance companies have been known to offer anywhere from 5% to 35% less of the settlement trial offer.
If you are caught in this uncompromising situation, seek help from a personal injury lawyer. He or she can help you get a decent amount out of it. Although you may not get the full settlement offer, settling for something as low as 5% of the trial offer is preposterous.
We all agree that no amount of money can make up for the physical and mental distress due to the injuries. However, there is no harm in getting some help with medical bills.
How long before I get the payment?
After all the physical pain and emotional turmoil, long discussions with your lawyer, you make a decision. You agree upon a certain amount of settlement to compensate for your injuries.
The next logical question is, “when do I receive the cheque?” The time duration differs from one insurance company to the next. But typically, it takes anywhere between four weeks and six weeks to reach your hands or wallet.
Keep in mind that there are various paper works that need to be processed first. You will need to sign off a release for your claim. It will state that you give up the right to take legal action against the individuals or the company that caused your injuries. Insurers will only release the settlement amount after they receive the claim surrender.
The settlement money will come through your lawyer. After the monetary compensation is received, it will be used to pay all the liens. It can include the lawyer’s fees, medical bills, and other miscellaneous expenses that were associated with your personal injury claim.
After all the necessary payments have been made, the remaining amount will be sent to you by your personal injury lawyer.
How much compensation am I entitled?
It is primarily dependent on the depth and the magnitude of damages you suffered. The damages can be physical as well as emotional. For any type of damages, your lawyer is the best source of knowledge. He or she can assess the seriousness of the situation, go through your medical records and arrive at a particular settlement value.
Physical damages and injuries are more straightforward to prove than those of emotional injuries. In case of psychological injury, your medical practitioner’s notes and your own experiences is your best weapon.
Seeking compensation for personal injury can be so complicated. With the long duration of time involved and the problems associated with it, you may question whether it is even worth it. And if you fail to file a case within the right time, you will not able to cover any damage. This can be made worse if you suffered substantial injuries, both emotional and physical.
Making trips to the hospital as well as the frequent meetings with lawyers can be taxing. However, with concrete pieces of evidence of your injury as well as the help from your attorney, you can arrive at a solution. The right settlement amount can be a much-appreciated help when you are drowning in heaps of medical bills.