If you’re injured in an accident that is someone else’s fault, you probably wonder when you will receive payment from the at-fault party. In any personal injury case, the insurance company for the person who is at fault in an accident does not make any payments until there is a settlement or final court verdict in a legal action. If you succeed in making a claim, you receive one insurance payment for your full compensation when the case concludes. The length of the process to settlement or verdict varies for every case, based on several factors that affect the timeline of a claim.
Factors in the Timeline of a Personal Injury Claim
In this discussion, our personal injury lawyers at Renfro & Renfro provide a summary of the factors that affect the length of time it takes to resolve a personal injury claim. Each case is different, depending on the specific insurance company (and the company’s willingness to negotiate), nature of your injuries, evidence and facts relating to the accident, and the overall amount of financial damages. More complex injuries and accidents and higher compensation typically require longer to reach settlement or verdict.
Investigation of the Accident
Regardless of the type of accident that led to your personal injury claim, your attorney and the insurance company for the at-fault party must both investigate the accident. That includes gathering all available evidence, interviewing witnesses, analyzing all the available data, and reaching conclusions about what occurred in the accident. How long the investigations take depends largely on the complexity of the accident.
Most often, your attorney and the insurance company will not agree on all the facts, even when the investigations are complete. Settlement discussions often involve efforts to resolve factual differences about what occurred. The facts are critical to the case, because they determine the outcome of the legal issues in the case.
In some cases, your attorney may decide to retain an expert witness to assist in analyzing the accident or other aspects of the case. Expert assistance will extend the amount of time it takes to fully determine the amount of your claim.
Nature of Your Injuries
The extent and nature of your injuries plays an important role in the settlement process. Your lawyer needs to make certain that the full extent of your injuries and recovery time is known with a fair degree of certainty before drawing any conclusions about what compensation you may deserve. Until you reach full recovery or maximum medical improvement, the amount of damages in your case cannot be accurately determined.
When injuries are significant, recovery time is longer, so it takes longer to ascertain the amount of compensation. Reaching certainty about the extent of recovery and the amount of time that will take may require waiting for several weeks or months. Your lawyer cannot fully evaluate compensation until your medical professionals have fully evaluated your injuries and determined a prognosis with some certainty.
To prove the individual elements of your claim, your lawyer must submit specific documentation to the insurance company. That requires obtaining and organizing copies of all your medical records relating to the accident. In some cases, previous medical records may also be relevant and necessary to obtain.
If your claim involves lost work or earning capacity, your employment records and earnings history also must be obtained. Depending on the nature of your claim, other documentation may also be necessary, such as when your claim includes compensation for pain and suffering.
Legal and Factual Issues
The nature and complexity of legal and factual issues affect the amount of time it takes to resolve a personal injury claim. If there are potential issues of contributory negligence, which means the claimant may be partly at fault, those questions must be discussed with the insurance company.
Settlement discussions between your lawyer and the insurance company focus on trying to resolve legal and factual issues, in order to reach a settlement agreement. In some cases, it may become necessary to file a court action to protect your rights. Then the court action takes additional time to unfold, although a settlement agreement may be reached at any time during the process.
Unfortunately, some insurance companies make it more difficult to reach settlement than others do. While every insurance company is subject to numerous laws requiring them to engage in fair settlement practices, that does not mean they have to make it easy for an innocent victim. This factor is one of the important reasons why you should trust in an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your settlement negotiations, instead of attempting to navigate the claim process yourself.
The insurance company always starts negotiations with a low-ball offer that does not fully compensate for your injuries. Your lawyer’s role is to convince the insurer to provide higher damages. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to leverage a case in negotiations with an insurance company.
Your Case Process and Progress Leading to Insurance Payment
Every personal injury claim takes time to resolve. Some cases can be resolved in a matter of weeks or months. A complex case can take years to resolve. Insurance companies do not make payments along the way. You receive only one final insurance payment for all your compensation at the end of the case.
After your attorney successfully negotiates a settlement, or you have a final court verdict, if a legal action is necessary, you can expect to receive your compensation within a reasonable amount of time. Your attorney receives the funds, and then must resolve any valid claims for reimbursement, like workers’ compensation payments and some health care expenses, that are required to be paid out of the settlement payment. Expenses and fees are also deducted before you receive an insurance payment.
At Renfro & Renfro, our personal injury lawyers keep you advised of the process and progress of your claim every step of the way. Initially, we discuss the specific factors in your case that will affect how long the process will take. Then, as the case develops, we continue to update you on the progress toward settlement. We also advise you if filing a court action may be necessary, which could further delay the process.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
If you received injuries in an accident caused by another person and have not talked with a lawyer, you should do so at the soonest opportunity. Our Virginia personal injury attorneys at Renfro & Renfro take pride in our client-focused approach to injury cases and our steadfast commitment to getting each client the full compensation and any insurance payment they deserve. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation.