How long does it usually take for a personal injury or automobile claim to be settled? Let me begin by stating that it largely depends on the type of settlement you are looking for. Typically insurance companies within a few weeks or months following the accident will give a low-ball offer. If you are willing to take this kind of offer, the matter can be taken care of fairly quickly. In a few weeks you can get your settlement.
However, that is not the kind of settlement that a majority of my clients are interested in. Most of the people I deal with want to have a good settlement or even the best one possible. Allow me to explain what is involved in obtaining that kind of settlement.
To obtain a good settlement, the first thing is the insurance company will want to review all of the medical bills and medical records. They will want to determine exactly what your injury is, if it is causing you any residual problems, and what type of medical treatment you may need going forward.
In order for them to assess that, they will require you to reach your maximum medical improvement. This will let them know if there are any complications that cannot be resolved through treatment or medical care, and they will have some idea of what can be expected to occur in the future. Therefore, reaching maximum medical improvement can take months, or years at times. However, in a majority of cases it is reach within a few months.
After that has been reached, we will need obtain all bills and medical records from every provider, and sometimes employment records as well. All of this usually takes one to two months after you have reached your maximum medical improvement. We will then submit to the insurance company. Usually they will want 30 days to evaluate the claim. It might be taken to a panel inside the insurance company and round tabled.
Next, negotiating the claim will take a few weeks, and then another few weeks for cutting the checks and delivering them, along with the getting the settlement papers completed and that sort of thing. So I would say it can possibly be fast, maybe a few months after you have reached maximum medical improvement. If there are any complications, it may take longer to obtain a good settlement.
However, it normally goes fairly fast. It can take as long as four months. It all depends on whether doctors provides us with records promptly and that sort of thing. As a client, one thing you can to help speed things up is visit the doctor’s yourself to obtain bills and medical records, since they tend to respond much faster to their patients than they do to attorneys.
However, with all of that being said, it is possible to obtain a good settlement within a few months after reaching your maximum medical improvement. So in order to obtain the best settlement, how long does that usually take? Normally, I would estimate that would take one to two years after you reach maximum medical improvement. Allow me to explain why this is the case.
In order to obtain the best settlement, it is necessary for you to use every negotiating strategy that is available to you. This doesn’t merely involve buttering up your adjustor to making a great sales pitch to your insurance company, or whatever things some attorney may say they are able to do to obtain good settlements. The walkaway is probably one of the most powerful of all of the negotiating strategies.
Basically the concept behind a walkaway is to tell the insurance company that you don’t accept their offer and that you are walking away from it and will be taking the matter to trial. Now usually they don’t capitulate right away. However, they will later on and will have raised their settlement substantially.
Just to summarize what I have been discussing. The time it takes to complete a settlement can range from a couple of weeks to a few years. When discussing things with your attorney, what you need to do is inform you attorney that you either want to have a fast settlement, a medium-length settlement or a final or the best settlement that you can get.
In the beginning, you might not know this. Things can change. However, you just need to keep in mind that you are the employer as the client. You’re the boss, so the attorney works for you. That brings up a specific issues, which is when you are searching for an attorney to hire, in order to get the best possible settlement, you need to ask the attorney if he or she would be willing to take your case to trial if necessary.
For whatever reason, there are some attorneys who aren’t willing to take their cases to trial. I don’t know if they just don’t have the guts or there is a financial reason, however they aren’t willing to take a case to trial. They’ll advertise that they can get fast settlements. That is great. However, they won’t get the best settlements.
One interesting thing you can ask an attorney if they would be willing to take a fast settlement if it is your choice. You’re the boss here, so it’s a good time to find out whether or not the attorney is going to follow what your instructions are. Also ask if they will be willing to take it to trial if that is what you want. And also ask if any of their personal injury cases have been taken to trial.