How long does a personal injury case take? A Dallas personal injury claim could take a few weeks to settle, or it could take years. On average, you’re probably looking at a few months ahead of you.
Nevertheless, the amount of time your claim will take to resolve will depend on many different factors, as outlined below. Plug in the facts that fit your particular case to obtain a ballpark estimate of how long it will take your case to settle.
When You Reach Maximum Medical Improvement
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is the point in your treatment where, in your doctor’s estimation, you have already recovered as much as you are ever going to. If you are lucky, that means a full recovery. Medical treatment has restored your health to 100% of what it was before the accident.
The significance of a full recovery is that (i) you no longer need medical treatment, and (ii) you can return to work on the same terms you enjoyed before the accident. This means you will accumulate no further medical expenses or lost earnings. At that point, you can calculate the value of your losses and demand them from the defendant.
Compensation for Estimated Future Loses
If you are not so lucky, you might suffer a continuing disability. You might need long-term kidney dialysis, for example. Your injuries might have left you so disabled that you cannot return to work.
Under such circumstances, you will need to estimate your future medical expenses and the lifetime value of your diminished earning capacity. You will probably need an expert to calculate these amounts.
The Amount of Compensation You Are Claiming
The more money you ask for, the harder the opposing party will fight to avoid payment. It’s just a truth of human nature. If your claim is small, the opposing party might agree to pay quickly just to get rid of you.
If your claim is large, however, avoiding payment becomes more important than getting rid of a pesky claim. If the defendant stands to go bankrupt by paying you, they will fight as if their life depends on it. They might even take you to trial out of sheer desperation.
You are even more likely to have a fight on your hands if the amount of compensation you are claiming consists mainly of non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Indeed, non-economic damages account for most of the value of the typical claim. Since the standards for determining the value of non-economic damages are nebulous, there are many ways to contest the amount of damages you seek.
There is nothing unusual about having to wait more than a year to collect a large compensation claim, even if your case doesn’t go to trial. Going to trial will add to that time estimate.
The Scientific and Legal Complexity of Your Case
One critical wildcard in many personal injury cases is their complexity. Some claims, such as medical malpractice claims and product liability claims, tend to be scientifically complex by their very nature.
In a medical malpractice claim, for example, you might need expert witnesses and complex scientific evidence to establish your claim. Other claims, such as complex multiparty litigation, are legally complex. The more complex your claim is, the longer it will probably take to resolve.
Comparative fault is a principle that allows a court to distribute compensation when more than one party is at fault for an accident. You might have slipped and fallen down wet stairs while intoxicated, for example.
Texas operates a “modified comparative fault” system whereby a court assigns each party a percentage of fault. If your percentage of fault is no greater than 50%, you can still recover damages, but you will lose the proportion that corresponds to your percentage of fault. If you were 35% at fault, for example, you will lose 35% of your compensation. If you were more than 50% at fault, however, you will lose 100% of your compensation.
Comparative fault adds to the complexity of your case. Because of this, it can add weeks or sometimes even months to the time it takes to resolve your claim.
Delay Tactics by the Opposing Party
Insurance companies are skilled at dangling a possible settlement in front of you and then throwing up obstacles at the last minute. In many cases, they are simply hoping you will forget about the statute of limitations deadline to file a lawsuit. This is particularly likely if you are representing yourself.
Whether You Need To File a Lawsuit
Should you settle, or should you sue? Paradoxically, the answer in many cases is a simple “yes.” In other words, you should employ both negotiation and litigation to reach an acceptable settlement. There are at least three important reasons why you might want to file a personal injury lawsuit while you are still hoping for a negotiated settlement:
- You want to prove to the other party that you mean business. If you file a lawsuit and your lawyer enjoys a strong track record of success in court, the opposing party would be foolish not to take notice.
- The statute of limitations deadline is looming, and you have to file a lawsuit to avoid losing your claim.
- You want to engage in the pretrial discovery process. Pretrial discovery takes place only after the filing of a lawsuit. It is a powerful, court-aided process where each side demands certain evidence held by the other party.
How long does it take to settle a lawsuit? That is difficult to say, but it is possible to settle a lawsuit any time before a final verdict. Some parties even reach last-minute settlements while the jury is deliberating the claim.
Negotiation is an ancient art. Negotiating skill has nothing to do with who is right and who is wrong. Unfortunately, it has everything to do with whether you win your claim, how much compensation you receive, and how long it takes you to receive it.
That is one of the reasons why you should hire an experienced Dallas personal injury lawyer to represent you. A good lawyer will not only fight for the best possible settlement, but they will also do their best to expedite your claim.
It’s the Merit of Your Claim That Matters Most, Not the Size of Your Wallet
If you’re seeking a Dallas personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim, you needn’t worry about money. There are plenty of personal injury lawyers out there who will take your case with no upfront payment if they believe they can win it. You only pay if you get compensation; even then, your legal fee is a pre-agreed percentage of the value of your claim. Contact our law firm Anderson Injury Lawyers at (817) 294-1900 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Fort Worth injury attorneys.