One of the most common worries anyone working with a personal injury attorney is likely to have is wondering just how long the case will take. The process involves a lot of paperwork, and you'll want to make sure you've submitted everything in full detail before you sign off on a settlement. Given that you'll usually have no chance to seek further compensation, you'll probably want to know that all is on order, but it also can be challenging to watch bills pile up. The length of the personal injury claim process depends on these three stages.
Both sides in a case will want to conduct as thorough an investigation as possible. In most states, the statute of limitations gives a potential plaintiff two years to file a claim, starting from the date of the incident. Some states, such as Texas, have shorter times allowed if you're suing a government agency or employee.
A personal injury attorney will typically advise a client to take their time setting up a claim. That said, the investigation process will be initiated as quickly as possible. This entails talking with witnesses and collecting statements from police, emergency responders and medical professionals.
Once a claim has been put in the hands of an insurance adjuster, there will be some statutory limit on how long the company can take to respond. California, for example, has to acknowledge the claim within 15 days. After receiving proof, the company then has 40 days to deny or accept the claim. After that, the insurance carrier has an additional 30 days to render payment once a settlement has been reached. These time periods will vary from state to state.
About 19 out of 20 cases are handled without going to court, but the threat of a possible lawsuit is one of the main motivations an insurer has to pay out a claim and to do so in a timely manner. You will likely only pursue a suit if the claim was rejected or if the proposed settlement is considered low.
The process of getting to trial usually takes between one and two years, although pretrial rules are different in each state. This includes the discovery process, and the judge may also urge the two sides to resume settlement negotiations. It's hard to predict how long a trial might go, but most last one to two weeks. Contact a personal injury attorney for more help.