How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Personal Injury Case? – I get this question quite frequently from clients, sometimes as early as our first meeting. I’ve come to understand that someone who is injured and facing a lot of uncertainty is just looking for some “light at the end of the tunnel” in terms of when they can put everything behind them. Unfortunately, if the injury has recently been incurred, the stress is just starting and it will typically get worse before it gets better, which is why it’s so important to have an attorney- and one you can trust- to help navigate you through the various issues that arise at different stages in a case.
The answer to that question though – how long it takes to resolve a person’s injury claim – depends on a number of different factors.
Typically, it will depend on how long it takes a person to recover from his/herinjury. One should not submit their case for settlement until they’ve finished treatment and/or reached what doctors term “maximum medical improvement” or “MMI.” Obviously, if a person does not reach this point until the statute of limitations (the deadline to file a case) is looming, the case will need to be filed with the appropriate court despite the fact they may not have reached MMI by that time.
Once confident that everything needed to effectively proffer your case has been retrieved, then one’s case can be submitted for settlement to the appropriate insurance company, along with a “demand letter” detailing the respective damages and making an argument for why it is believed that person’s case has the value being demanded, as well as the supporting documentation (to include medical records and bills, verification of lost wages, documentation of any out of pocket expenses, photographs, etc). The insurance company receives this and evaluates it according to their internal mechanisms. Some companies use a computer program, where the adjuster inputs various information and codes from the providers, and the computer essentially “spits out” a value; one such program that is popular with insurance companies is called Colossus. Others rely on seasoned adjusters who are familiar with the value typically placed on similar cases in the venue where the case would likely be filed if suit were necessary.
The negotiation process and the resulting length of time involved varies depending on the particular carrier involved, how reasonable the insurance adjusters are with their offers and, in all honesty, how reasonable the injured party and his/her attorney are with the demand. I’ve found that the quickest settlements that are still successful from a value perspective arise when the following factors intersect: an adjuster who is experienced, familiar with the venue where the case will be filed (if necessary), and reasonable; an attorney who is experienced with personal injury claims, familiar with the facts of his/her particular case and the likely value a judge or jury will attach to the case if it were to be tried; and a client who has reasonable expectations and is willing to accept the advice of his/her attorney about the likely value of their case. (It should be noted that “quick settlement” doesn’t always equate to “good” or “successful” settlement. One should be confident their attorney knows the factors involved in evaluating a personal injury claim, along with the specific facts of that case, and is applying appropriate pressure to resolve the case versus “rolling over” and recommending a quick settlement that is not the best that could be achieved.)
If the parties can come to terms on a mutually agreeable settlement, then the entire case will typically resolve about 30 days later. Absent a mutually agreeable settlement, suit will need to be filed. And how long it takes to resolve a case via litigation depends on whether the case is filed in the District Court or Circuit Court (in terms of state courts versus federal court). The major differences between the District and Circuit Courts will be laid out in later blog posts. Rest assured that I have had extensive experience in both courts, having tried hundreds of cases in the District Courts (I tried 87 in my first year of practice alone) and over 130 trials before juries in Maryland’s Circuit Courts throughout the state.
Thanks for reading. If you have a case you’d like me to evaluate, whether you’re an injured person or an attorney with an injured client, please feel free to contact me at your convenience at 410-793-7040 or Jared@BmoreAttorney.com. I’d be happy to discuss your case.