By: Whalen Hersh
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How Long Can a Personal Injury Claim Take Following an Accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident and are thinking of filing a claim, you may be asking yourself how long can a personal injury claim take? The answer is that there is no specific formula to calculate the length of time a personal injury claim can take to be completed. Every case is different, and the variety of factors that go into each individual personal injury claim is the reason the answer to that question is not set in stone. The bottom line is that your injury attorney cannot often move forward with initiating settlement of your personal injury claims without first understanding your long-term prognosis. It takes time for medical providers to identify and diagnose your injuries and to make recommendations for the future care and possible surgeries that you may require from your accident. This is a process in most circumstances, when considering your very best interests, that should not be rushed by your personal injury attorney.
What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is different than an injury to property. Property damage is often readily apparent and easily calculated. Personal injury relates to an injury to the physical person, psychological injury, injuries impacting someone’s long term quality of life, pain and suffering caused by the event and the emotional impacts of an event. It takes time following a car accident or other injury causing event to determine the extent of injuries and the long-term impacts. A personal injury claim compensates victims of accidents. Personal injury cases arise when a person suffers harm as a result of an accident or injury, and someone else may be legally responsible. Examples of personal injury include car accidents, trucking accidents, slip and fall incidents, medical malpractice claims, and cases involving injuries caused by the sale of products like unsafe automobiles or e-cigarettes. These cases lead to a universe of damage categories that victims are entitled to including past and future medical treatment, emotional distress, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, permanent disability, disfigurement, loss of function, and even loss of life.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take to Settle?
Many personal injury cases are resolved within 6-9 months without the filing of a lawsuit. Where the attorneys must file a lawsuit to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement of the personal injury case, trial is usually set within a year of the filing of that civil complaint action against the defendant. Within months after the case is filed, the parties have the opportunity well in advance of the trial date to go to a mediation to resolve the case confidentially and outside the presence of a judge and jury. In such instances, it could take 18 months to resolve your injury case. In more complex matters, and depending on the deadlines set by the court, it could take up to 2 years to resolve your personal injury claims.
What Does the Timeline Look Like?
The timeline for your personal injury case starts immediately after the accident, when you receive a comprehensive medical assessment and treatment for your injuries. This should happen as soon as possible, as some injuries may not manifest symptoms at the time of the crash but rather symptoms develop within weeks and months following the accident. You should get evaluated by the ER or urgent care immediately to document initial soreness and symptoms occurring from the onset – failure to do this may lead to insurance companies and their lawyers making unfair arguments that you were not hurt in the accident. These things can be unfairly used against you. The next step on your timeline is to hire a lawyer to represent you in your personal injury case. Once you hire a lawyer, he or she will interview you about the accident and your medical condition and any treatment you’ve received for your injuries. Your lawyer will obtain your medical records and review them for relevancy to your case. Thereafter, the lawyers may request Independent Medical Examinations to understand the extent of the injuries caused by your crash. At the same time, your attorneys will be investigating the crash and requesting critical evidence the defendant has a legal obligation to preserve in the case. This is done for your absolute protection in seeking to prevent the defendant from failing to keep evidence or internally investigate the crash – especially in cases involving company drivers. Once your prognosis is understood, the lawyers will put together a time limited confidential settlement demand outlining the incident, your treatment, your required future care and the law supporting the damages you are reasonably entitled to in the case. If the case can get resolved through this process, it will not require the filing of a lawsuit.
In other situations where a lawsuit is filed, a different process occurs involving deadlines set by the court and the assigned judge. The next steps in your personal injury timeline are discovery, which can last six months to a year, depending on the court deadlines and the complexity of your case, mediation and negotiation, and – if mediation is not successful in reaching a settlement – a court trial. A trial can last generally 5-10 days.
What Should You Do Now?
As you can see, calculating how long your personal injury case will take is not an exact science. However, with the right personal injury attorney working on your behalf, the process should move forward smoothly and efficiently in most cases. Make sure that the lawyers you hire aren’t rushing your case but rather working diligently to identify the full scope of your injuries and the experts that may need to be hired and the issues that required consideration. This process is intended to ensure the best presentation and outcome in your personal injury claim. At Whalen Hersh, our goal is to help you get fair, full compensation for any losses you have suffered, no matter how long it takes. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to provide you with the best representation available in pursuing a legal claim, including taking your case to trial if needed. If you have a personal injury case, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your situation and consider your legal options.
You can reach us in Denver at (720) 307-2666 or Colorado Springs at (719) 644-7000 to learn more. Colorado Springs our offices are located in the Alamo Corporate Center at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 1100. In Denver you can find us in the Denver Tech Center at 7955 East Arapahoe Court, Suite 2375, Centennial, CO 80112. We look forward to working with you to help you receive fair and just compensation for your losses and damages in your personal injury case.