When you’re dealing with recovery and possible long-term unemployment, the prospect of a long legal battle should be the least of your worries. However, mounting medical bills and living expenses make wondering when you’ll get some compensation a necessity.
The job of personal injury attorneys is to ensure that clients have a strong advocate who will protect their rights while getting the relief they need on time. Reputable lawyers like nothing better than to see you move forward with confidence that your needs and those of your family will be met sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly. An established firm like Benjamin Law, LLC may be able to help.
The Progression of a Typical Personal Injury Case
Each case is unique, so there is no “one size fits all” answer to the question “How long will it take to settle my case?” But, the right law firm can provide you with a general timeline and outline the factors that influence how – and how fast – a personal injury case progresses.
Phase 1: Reporting Your Accident
The first thing you should do after an accident is to report and document what happened. If it’s an auto accident, contact the police and your insurance company a soon as possible. When the injury happens at work, make sure that you inform your supervisor and that your employer has documented the incident.
Police and/or work documentation will be necessary during the legal process. This should be taken care of within a few hours of the accident at most unless you’re injured too severely to function.
Phase 2: Seeking Medical Treatment
Unless you’ve been taken from the scene by ambulance, you should arrange medical care within the first 24 hours of an accident.
You might feel fine, but that could also be due to being in shock. Some injuries are also not apparent at first, but you will feel them later. The last thing you want to do is walk around for a week or so with an undiagnosed head or back injury and exacerbate the situation.
Phase 3: Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
Your next step after reporting the accident and seeking medical treatment should be to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. This is a case where not just any licensed attorney will do. You wouldn’t ask a podiatrist to perform heart surgery, so why get a divorce or business lawyer to handle personal injury claims?
Lawyers who specialize in personal injury law know how to properly evaluate a case on its merits and have experience navigating insurance companies as well as the court and health care systems. They’ll know the right questions to ask, evidence to gather, and compensation you’ll need. You should be able to find out if you have a case after the initial consultation.
Phase 4: Investigating the Accident
Once you’ve retained a lawyer, they should get right to work investigating the circumstances surrounding your accident. This includes conducting a thorough interview with you and any witnesses, having access to police or incident reports, and getting a full account of any related medical treatments.
Most importantly, they should have a prognosis for ongoing treatment and future medical needs. An estimate of how long you’ll be out of work and living expenses will also factor into your claim.
This phase could be done in days if the accident and outcomes are clear-cut and uncomplicated, but it could also take weeks or months to complete.
Phase 5: Filing a Claim
Once all of the facts are gathered and evaluated, your lawyer will file a claim for damages with the responsible party’s insurance company. They will either honor the request or make a counteroffer for a settlement.
If that offer is adequate to cover your damages and related expenses (it usually isn’t), your lawyer will advise you to settle.
However, if the injuries are severe, there are ongoing medical needs, or negligence/criminality are factors, it may be necessary to continue negotiations. If unable to reach a fair settlement, your lawyer will take the case to court.
The timeline for this phase from request to negotiation to settlement could take several years. Bear in mind that in most states, you only have two years from the date of the accident or onset of disability to file a case.
Contact a Reputable Personal Injury Attorney
The above guidelines are meant to provide a general overview of personal injury cases. Everyone’s situation is different. If you have questions, you’ve been hurt in an accident, or were the victim of a violent crime, contact a qualified personal injury lawyer in your area.