How Long Will It Take to Settle My Personal Injury Claim?

A serious injury can throw your life into turmoil. You may be unable to work for days or weeks—or even unable to ever return to your prior employment. This sudden gap in income can be especially stressful when you’re watching medical bills pile up, and may have extra expenses associated with your recovery. It’s only natural to be concerned about how long it would take to settle your claim. In fact, insurance companies are aware of the stress you’re under, and may try to trick you into a quick settlement that could significantly decrease your compensation.

Every injury case is different, so the timeline to settling your claim or getting to trial will differ, too. Your personal injury attorney can tell you how these factors weigh in your case, and give you a general idea of what to expect.

Factors Impacting Time to Settlement of an Injury Claim

Some of the most common variables affecting how long it takes to settle your case include:

  • How long it takes you to consult a personal injury lawyer. It will take some time for your attorney to gather evidence in your case, receive your medical records, consult with experts, and otherwise prepare your case. The sooner they get started, the better. That’s true not only because it will get your case rolling sooner and put you closer to receiving compensation, but also because it will be easier for your injury lawyer to collect evidence shortly after the injury, before witness memories fade, vehicles are repaired, and security footage is erased.
  • The severity of your injuries. Serious injuries can delay settlement for two reasons. First, your personal injury lawyer will want to wait until the full extent of your injuries is known before entertaining a settlement offer. Otherwise, you could end up settling for less than you need to attend to your injuries. The other is that if your injuries are severe, your damages will be higher. So, the insurance company will likely fight harder to avoid paying out fair compensation. On the other hand, if the insurance policy limits are relatively low and the insurer knows that your claim is worth more than they have to offer, they may settle quickly.
  • How clear liability is. It may seem that your damages should be the only variable in determining how much compensation you’re entitled to, but the insurance company will be considering other factors. For instance, if they believe it will be difficult for you to prove that their customer was negligent, they may not be willing to offer a fair settlement. In that case, your accident attorney may advise you to hold out for trial rather than settling for less.
  • The law firms and insurance companies involved. Part of the equation is just how the parties involved conduct themselves–some are quick to negotiate and work things out, while others drag their feet or operate in bad faith.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but covers some of the variables that may impact the timeline of your personal injury case.

General Personal Injury Settlement Timelines

While every case is different, there are some common ranges. When you consult your personal injury attorney, they’ll be able to give you a better estimate, since they’ll have the answers to the questions above and other relevant factors.

It’s important to keep in mind that these timelines aren’t from the date of your injury, but from the time your personal injury lawyer starts working on the case. If you don’t consult an attorney until a year or 18 months after your accident, the timelines below will start later, and the total wait time from your injury to your settlement will be longer.

Quick Personal Injury Settlements

When your injuries are not severe or the policy limits are low—in other words, when there isn’t much at stake for the insurance company—settlement may take just a few months. In some cases, it may be even quicker. But, a quick settlement is extremely rare in high-dollar cases.

Average Settlement Timelines

Most personal injury cases take several months to more than a year to settle. In some cases, negotiations may take even longer. The current Florida statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years, so if that date is approaching and you haven’t reached a settlement, your injury lawyer will likely file a personal injury lawsuit to preserve your rights. However, most lawyers will file the case sooner.

Filing a lawsuit doesn’t mean that you can’t still reach a settlement with the insurance carrier. In fact, getting your case on the court calendar can apply pressure on the insurance company—especially if they know that your case is strong.

If your accident attorney and the insurance carrier’s lawyer still can’t reach an agreement, you will have to proceed to trial.

Florida Personal Injury Trial Timeline

Once the case is filed, the timeline will depend in part on how crowded the court’s docket is. At a minimum, the parties will be given a period of months to file discovery motions, exchange information, take depositions, and otherwise prepare for litigation. The trial date may be a year or more after the case is filed—in some cases much longer. And, that time is on top of the time that passed before you hired a personal injury lawyer and filed a case.

Of course, the parties may continue to negotiate as they move through the discovery and trial preparation process. So, the case could settle at any time.

Receiving Your Personal Injury Settlement

After you enter into a settlement with the insurance carrier, it will typically take a few weeks for your attorney to receive the check from the insurance company. The most common process is that your attorney will deposit the check in their client trust account, which is a special account that is separate from the law firm’s own funds. The law firm will deduct fees and expenses as agreed in your contract, and then issue you a check.

Your lawyer can explain to you exactly how this will work in your case, and how long it will take to receive your settlement funds.

The Sooner You Start, the Sooner You Settle

The most important thing you can do to get your case settled faster is to hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. The sooner your attorney gets started gathering evidence and negotiating with the insurance company’s lawyer, the sooner the process can be completed.

To learn more about how the experienced personal injury lawyers at Harrell & Harrell can help, schedule your free consultation by calling 904-251-1111 or filling out our contact form right now.