When a new or prospective client approaches us for information regarding their legal options after suffering a serious injury, their first questions are usually “How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?” or “When will I start being paid?”
While we understand that you’re eager to get to the conclusion of your case and start receiving the benefits you need (especially since those benefits include treatment for your injury), the answer to the above questions aren’t always straightforward.
What to Expect, Generally
Each personal injury case is as unique as you are, and we will not know the amount of time your case will take, nor what kind of benefits you’ll receive until your case starts progressing. This is a little unsettling to some people, but to help you better understand what to expect, we’ve provided a generalized timeline for your claim.
Here, you can also find out which steps your Pocatello personal injury lawyer will help you with along the way.
Your initial consultation, or case evaluation, is your first meeting with your attorney. If you have been seriously injured, you should speak with several lawyers, discuss your case and your options, and choose the legal representative you feel the most comfortable with.
Remember, this is an extremely important choice, as you’re entrusting your attorney with your legal and financial well-being. Nevertheless, you should get started on your case as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the tougher it will be to obtain critically important evidence.
At May, Rammell & Wells, we offer free consultations to make the first step easy and risk-free!
Once you have chosen an attorney, you will work with them to conduct an initial investigation. This includes taking witness statements, getting pictures of the accident (including vehicle damage and scene photos), evaluating your injuries, and more. You’ll be communicating with your attorney a lot during this period, as they’ll be trying to gather as much evidence as possible to protect your rights.
Once you have obtained evidence, you should have a better idea of:
- how the accident happened
- how long you can expect to recover
- the damages you have sustained, both financial and otherwise
Once you have made these determinations, you and your attorney can make your first demand of the parties who are responsible (usually an insurance company). The defendant will review this initial demand, reject it outright, or make a counteroffer.
To let the other party know you are serious, you will want to have a high-quality initial demand letter.
Filing a Lawsuit
If your case cannot be settled through negotiations via the demand letter and counteroffers, your attorney will likely prepare you for trial and file a lawsuit against the other party on your behalf. The other party will have to answer, and their insurance company will likely provide them with legal representation, per the terms of their policy.
Before the trial begins, both parties are required to exchange evidence they have obtained to fully evaluate the other side’s case. This process is called “discovery” and is vital to a successful outcome. Having an attorney that knows what evidence to request and how to request it can help you gain far more insightful knowledge into the defense’s case.
Before the case fully proceeds to trial, both parties may be required or voluntarily opt to undergo mediation. This is an informal process in which both parties meet to see if they can resolve the issue before it has to go to court completely. These meetings are conducted by a mediator or a neutral third party, who is usually a current or former personal injury judge. These sessions can be extremely helpful and even get you the outcome you’ve been seeking, so come to the table willing to work. If you are able to solve your claim during mediation, you will significantly reduce the timeline of your personal injury claim.
If the matter is not resolved via mediation or a court motion, your trial will begin. These trials will often involve a jury, who will evaluate the facts of your case, deliberate, and come to an agreement over who is at fault and award an appropriate amount in damages. Trials can take days, or even weeks, depending on the complexity of your case.
If the trial does not go your way, or you feel as though your jury award was erroneous, you may choose to appeal the decision, which would elevate it to a higher court for purposes of review. If the higher court evaluates your case and feels as though your judgement included mistakes in the judicial process or overstepping of legal boundaries, they can send the case back to for reconsideration.
Trials and appeals can extend your personal injury case timeline considerably.
Get Started Today
If you want to know more about the personal injury claims process, or you need high-quality representation and counsel for your case, call May, Rammell & Wells at (208) 623-8021 to request a free consultation!
Once we meet with you, we may be able to confidently answer questions like “How long does a personal injury claim take to settle?” Don’t hesitate – as soon as we understand your case, we can make a more realistic estimate!