If you have been injured in a Los Angeles car accident you may be thinking about filing a personal injury claim for damages. An unexpected injury can be incredibly expensive, and the money you recover from your claim can go a long way to relieve the financial burdens with which you are faced. When our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys meet with prospective clients to review a new case, there is one question that tends to pop up more often than not: how long will my case take to settle?
What Affects My Settlement?
Personal injury cases can be resolved rather quickly or drag on for years. The timeframe in which your case is resolved will depend on:
- Determinations of fault
- Calculation of damages, and
- Your road to recovery.
Determinations of Fault
Determining who is at fault, and therefore liable, for your injuries can be a difficult process. This is especially true if there is more than one party responsible for your harm. California is a comparative fault state, which means that more than one person can be held financially responsible for your harm. The greater the degree of fault, the greater the financial responsibility for your harm.
Of course, no one will rush forward to take the blame for your injuries. In most cases, your attorney will have to conduct a thorough investigation to determine (1) which parties contributed to the cause of your injury and (2) the degree of fault of each of these parties. This process may require expert assistance and can take a fair amount of time to complete.
Determining an appropriate value of the damages you have suffered because of an accident is essential to your personal injury case. This value is essentially the amount you’re asking the at-fault party (or parties) to pay you for your injuries. Figuring out this value can be very difficult.
While some amounts, such as medical bills and income lost during recovery, may be fairly easy to establish, other damages will be more challenging. How much are your pain and suffering worth? If your ability to work has been compromised, how should your reduced earning capacity be calculated? These determinations will require a lot of research and input from experts.
Your Physical Recovery
The length of time it takes to recover compensation will also depend on your own physical recovery. It can take time to determine the extent of your injuries and whether those injuries will have limitations in your life. You may need to wait until you’ve reached your maximum medical recovery to determine the full extent of your damages.
Understanding Your Choices
When you are injured in an accident you will have two main options for recovering compensation. The first is to negotiate privately with an at-fault party and/or their insurance company. The second is standing your ground and filing a personal injury lawsuit. The decision you make will affect the length of time it takes to resolve your case.
Negotiating a Settlement
When you’re injured in an accident and decide that you want to pursue compensation you have the right to file a claim for damages. This claim is different from a lawsuit; it is submitted directly to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The claim details your injuries, why you believe the defendant is responsible, and outlines your request for damages.
The insurance company will review this request and can either ignore it, propose alternate terms, or agree to pay. In most cases, insurance companies will not pay the full amount you’ve requested and, instead, ignore your claim or offer pennies on the dollar. These companies are simply interested in preserving their bottom line and minimizing the compensation you receive.
If you do not want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an attorney, you will be limited to whatever compensation is offered in this external negotiation process. You may (or may not) recover money quickly, but you will definitely not bring home the full amount to which you are probably entitled.
You may even find that insurance companies are quick to offer you a settlement. Be wary of these early lowball offers; they will not be enough to cover the full extent of your damages. If you accept, you will get money in hand, but it won’t be enough to make a real difference.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit will be more time-consuming, but you are more likely to walk away with a fair settlement or award. Your attorney will thoroughly investigate your accident, file a formal complaint against the defendant in court, and initiate the civil lawsuit process.
Most personal injury cases (upwards of 95 percent) settle privately outside of court. You have the right to settle your case at any point in the lawsuit process. When (and if) you want to settle is up to you. You will have to evaluate the offers you receive and balance them against the likelihood of getting more if you proceed with the lawsuit. Personal injury lawsuits can be very lengthy processes, taking months or even years to wrap up.
Hiring an Attorney to Accelerate Recovery
When you try to recover compensation from an insurance company you any find that the process is extremely aggravating. Insurance companies will use whatever tricks and tactics they can to
- extend the amount of time your claim is open, and
- limit the compensation you receive.
These companies will do anything they can to protect their bottom line, even if it means leaving you hanging without any help. Hiring an attorney to help you navigate this stressful process can help to accelerate your financial recovery. Your attorney will know how to counter the strategies employed by insurance companies and maximize the compensation you receive.
At Citywide Law Group, we understand that the settlement or award you recover after an accident can make or break your recovery. We also understand how important it is to get this compensation as quickly as possible. Our Los Angeles car accident attorneys will fight to balance these interests and resolve the case in the manner that works best for you. We will continue to fight your case until you receive a settlement offer that you find attractive.
If you are unhappy with the offers you are given we will not hesitate to take your case to court. Call us today to request a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you resolve your personal injury matter.