The short answer to that question is that most Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation cases take at least one year or more before they are settled. Many can take much longer. Workers’ Compensation cases often can be shorter depending on circumstances. This is usually true, not because the lawyer is taking that long to process the case. Instead, Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation cases usually take that long for medical reasons. It is difficult to determine the permanent nature of one’s injuries in a short amount of time. For that reason, your Doctor or Chiropractor is usually a better person to answer this question than your lawyer!
When you have been in an accident and have suffered an injury, your lawyer cannot effectively make a claim for money damages until you have medical evidence to support that claim. If you have a permanent injury, the settlement value of your case is worth much more. Therefore, it is important to support your claim with medical evidence that your injury is a permanent one in order to get the best settlement. In order to do so, you must have the medical opinion of your Doctor or Chiropractor that your injury is permanent. This important medical evidence usually comes in the form of a medical report prepared by the Doctor/Chiropractor.
Most Doctors and Chiropractors are unwilling to give their opinion that your injury is permanent until at least one year has passed since your accident. This allows sufficient time for the injury to heal and also provides time for any hidden aspects of your injury, such as a herniated disc in your neck or back, to reveal itself.
After we have medical reports from your Doctors, we will then assemble the reports and medical records, along with other important documents such as the accident report, witness statements, etc. and submit all of these materials to the insurance company for the at-fault party along with our “demand for settlement” (we give the insurance company a figure as to how much we are willing to settle the case for).
We will get your permission or approval for that figure before we give it to the insurance company.
The process of collecting all these materials and assembling the settlement brochure can often take several months.
After the insurance company has these materials, it often will ask for additional information. This can take more time again.
After that, the insurance company will take more time to evaluate your claim before getting back to us with an “offer of settlement” (that is the amount of money that they are willing to pay to settle the case).
After the initial offer is made, there is often a period of negotiation in which the parties go back and forth with counter-demands and counter-offers.
This process usually takes many months to complete.
If these negotiations are not successful, we have no choice but to “file suit.”