Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Personal Injury Claims – How Long Do They Take To Settle?
Every year, personal injury law firms oversee hundreds of legal cases for clients who have been injured in some kind of accident.
A common question that these lawyers receive from their many clients is: “How long is it going to take before my claim settles?”
Unfortunately, there is no simple or single answer to this question that any attorney handing personal injury claims can give, as every legal case is different.
Number of Personal Injury Claims Each Year
When asking how long it takes for personal injury claims to settle, the first consideration is the sheer number of personal injury claim cases pending in the U.S. during any given year.
Although that statistic is hard to define, in terms of accidental injury the CDC estimates that there are 42 million emergency room visits and 93 million doctor office visits for accidental injuries every year with more than 230,000 injury deaths.1
Within those numbers, there are over 2 million people injured in car accidents every year and more than 32,000 of that number are fatal.2
Although personal injury claims lawyers only deal with a portion of these injury cases, there are still hundreds of thousands of personal injury cases taking place in the U.S. every year.
Variables That Affect Personal Injury Claims Settlement
Beyond the high number of cases being overseen by personal injury law firms, there are many other factors that can affect if a case will settle in a matter of months or years.
Some of the variables that can affect settlement times include:
- Type and Severity of Sustained Injury - Cases that involve soft-tissue injuries, emotional injuries, resulting disabilities, and other gray areas can be more challenging to substantiate and involve a longer period of negotiation.
- Insurance Company Involvement - Is an insurance company actively handling the claim and have they had time to conduct their own investigation of the accident to establish cause and claimed damages?
- Length and Type of Medical Treatment - Most personal injury claims attorneys recommend waiting until treatment is all or nearly complete in order to fully account for the total medical cost or be able to accurately estimate the cost of any ongoing treatment.
- Case Research - This area would include the length of time required for lawyers to research the case and determine liability; more complicated injury claims will take longer.
- Dollar Amount of the Claim - High-dollar settlements or those that extend beyond insurance policy limits can take more time than others as negotiations often involve more than one insurance company or payer, which can take significantly longer.
- Does The Case Go to Trial - Trial cases can take considerably longer than those that settle out of court as it involves working within the schedule of the legal system which may not hear a case for a year or more depending on the jurisdiction.
Every Personal Injury Claim Is Different
While the basic legal process that personal injury claims attorneys adhere to when representing injured clients is the same, there are countless variables that can affect how long each part of the process may take.
Simpler ;black-and-white injury claims can be settled fairly quickly while more serious or complicated claims with a higher requested settlement an take a personal injury law firm longer to resolve.
If you have been injured in an accident, your best course of action is to retain the services of an experienced personal injury claim lawyer and let them proceed to handle your case!
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Fast Stats Home Page, Injuries, All Injuries, May 2017
2Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Signs, Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths, July 2016