If someone caused your injury or accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your losses. These losses, called damages, include physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial expenses. However, you have the burden of proving that the party caused your injury before they can be held legally liable for your damages.
Most personal injury cases settle out of court. It could take more than a year to settle your personal injury case. Numerous factors impact the timeline for a personal injury case to settle.
Factors That Affect How Long It Will Take for a Personal Injury Case To Settle
Each case is unique. Therefore, you should seek advice from an experienced Stuart personal lawyer to determine what factors could impact how long your personal injury case takes to settle.
Examples of factors that could impact the settlement timeline for your personal injury claim include:
Your Recovery Period
Reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI) is one of the most significant factors affecting the timeline for a personal injury settlement. MMI is when your doctor says no further medical treatment is expected to improve your condition. Some people fully recover from their injuries, while others have a permanent impairment.
Disabling injuries caused by accidents and other personal injury incidents include, but are not limited to:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Severe burns
- Loss of limbs and amputation
- Internal organ damage
- Fractures and broken bones
The severity of your injuries impacts the value of your damages. Therefore, you do not want to settle a personal injury claim before you reach MMI. Most victims are entitled to receive compensation for their economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
If you sustain a permanent impairment or disability, you could be entitled to additional damages. You could receive compensation for ongoing medical care, future lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and reduced quality of life. However, you will not know whether you sustained a permanent impairment until you reach maximum medical improvement.
At the same time, you need to be concerned about the filing deadline for claims and lawsuits. You do not want to miss the deadline for filing claims, or your case could be dismissed under Florida’s statute of limitations. Therefore, seek legal advice from an experienced injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
The Length of the Investigation
Florida is an at-fault state for most types of personal injury cases. You must prove that the other party caused your injury to hold them financially responsible for your damages. Therefore, you need evidence proving the legal elements of an injury case, typically duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Some cases take longer to investigate than other cases. The type of personal injury case can also add to the length of the investigation. Generally, it takes longer to investigate and gather evidence for product liability claims and medical malpractice than for a simple two-car accident.
Because your case relies on the evidence you present, you do not want to rush an investigation. Sometimes, an attorney might need to retain expert witnesses, investigators, and other professionals to gather evidence that strengthens and improves your case.
Once you reach maximum medical improvement and your lawyer completes the investigation, it is time to make a demand for settlement. Your lawyer prepares a settlement demand letter for the insurance company and/or at-fault party.
The demand letter explains the legal grounds for a personal injury claim and the value of your damages. Your lawyer may also provide copies of medical records, invoices, statements, and other evidence to support your claim.
The insurance company could spend several weeks reviewing your settlement offer. The company could accept or decline the offer or make a counteroffer. Counteroffers are common in personal injury cases because the insurance company wants to settle the claim but wants to pay as little as possible.
The counteroffer begins settlement negotiations. Your attorney and the other side discuss settlement figures in back-and-forth negotiations. Depending on the case, your attorney might advise mediation or arbitration to resolve the case without going to court.
If settlement negotiations fail, your Stuart personal injury attorney will discuss the pros and cons of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Stuart, FL
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, it could take more than a year for the lawsuit to go to trial. During that time, you could reach a settlement with the other party to avoid court. However, there is no guarantee of a settlement.
Each lawsuit is different, but there are specific stages that most personal injury lawsuits follow, including:
- Filing the complaint with the clerk of court and serving it on all defendants
- Waiting for responsive pleadings to be filed
- Settlement negotiations, mediation, and/or arbitration
- Pre-trial motions
- Jury trial
- Verdict and possibly an appeal
Even if you win a personal injury lawsuit, it does not guarantee you will receive the entire amount of the judgment. The insurance company is only liable up to the policy limits. The remaining amount would be a personal judgment against the defendants, which they may or may not be able to pay.
An experienced Stuart personal injury attorney can guide you through the process of deciding whether to accept a settlement offer or file a personal injury lawsuit. The decision is case-specific, so it is better to work with a seasoned trial lawyer than to base your decision on other cases.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Stuart Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help ensure that the settlement process moves as quickly as possible without jeopardizing the amount of your personal injury settlement. Contact KW Stuart Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers at (772) 444-7000 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Stuart personal injury lawyers. We want to help you receive a fair settlement for your personal injury or accident claim.