Were you involved in a personal injury accident? If so, your first question may be – how long does a personal injury claim take to settle? To discuss this and/or any other issues regarding your accident, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.
How long does a personal injury claim take to settle?
If you’ve dealt with personal injury attorneys before, you’ll understand that it’s hard to get a definite answer out of them. That’s because there are many factors that go into a personal injury case. Any one of them could delay your case. For that reason, the only honest answer to the question of how long does a personal injury claim take to settle is – “It Depends”.
Factors that affect how long it takes to settle your case
There are many factors that affect this answer. The most important being the severity of your injury. Instead of starting there however, we will address this question by looking at the normal pattern a personal injury case takes.
Finding the defendant/insurance
Many times our clients were taken from the scene of an accident in an ambulance. If that’s the case, chances are you didn’t have a chance to get the defendant’s contact information let alone his/her auto insurance information. As such, you may have to wait until the police report is ready to identify the defendant or his insurance. That can take weeks in big cities like Chicago. The easiest way in Chicago to obtain a police report is on the CPD website. You can also obtain reports from the Illinois State Police, your local Sheriff’s department and/or your local city.
Once you find the defendant, you or your attorney will file a claim with their insurance company. Most insurance companies have websites with instructions or a phone number to file a claim, like this one from State Farm insurance.
Just because you filed a claim however, does not mean that State Farm etc. will immediately compensate you for your damages. Normally the insurance company will investigate the matter first. This could include ordering the police report, interviewing their insured about the facts of the accident, interviewing witnesses, inspecting the scene of the accident and so forth. Then, they will either accept “liability,” meaning responsibility for the accident, or they can deny liability, or they might split responsibility between their insured and you the victim.
This can take a long time, especially if a serious injury or a death is involved. In the meantime, your car is damaged and you’re in pain. You may get frustrated and for good reason. However, aside from filing a lawsuit, there is little you can do to speed the insurance company’s investigation up. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend filing a claim with your own insurance company as well.
This is the quickest way to get your property damaged resolved. Yes you will have to pay your deductible in order to get your vehicle fixed, but you should get that money back shortly.
Severity of Injury
The one factor that most affects the question of how long does a personal injury claim take to settle, is the severity of your injuries. Why? Because this will (in many situations) dictate how long you obtain medical treatment for.
Once you sign a release from the insurance company accepting compensation for your damages, you waive away your right to recover anything else from the defendant/his insurance in the future. It doesn’t matter what happens. We just received a call from a woman who signed a release from an insurance company six months ago. She was just recently diagnosed with bulging discs in her neck and wanted to go back to the insurance cover to obtain additional compensation. We had to tell her that once she signed the release her case was over. There was no going back for more money. Consequently, you want to make sure your medical treatment is completely finished before you sign on the dotted line.
Ironically, the severity of your injuries may also mean that the amount of time it takes to settle your case is very short. For example, we had a case recently where our insured (a pedestrian) suffered a severe leg fracture when she was hit by a car while crossing the street. She underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery on her leg.
This is a severe injury for which she could have recovered significantly for. However, the driver of the car that hit her only had $50,000 in insurance and our client did not have any auto insurance. As such, she was limited in her recovery to $50,000. The insurance company offered the $50,000 within weeks of the accident occurring. Theoretically, we could have settled her case right then but for the time it took to negotiate her medical bills.
We will discuss that and other issues that effect how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim in part two of this blog article, which we will post next week. If you want a free consultation to discuss the question – how long does a personal injury claim take to settle? Contact our office at 312-848-9783.