One of the most popular questions asked of Chicago personal injury attorneys is how long it takes to settle a claim. While it seems like a simple question, there is no easy answer because each case is different and each case takes a different amount of time to reach resolution.
Through our experience bringing personal injury claims, we know some of the factors that affect the length of time it takes to settle a claim. Some can resolve in a matter of months while others may take years or even longer.
The big factors that determine length of time to reach a resolution are whether the defendant admits or contests liability, the extent and type of the injuries, and the insurance company defending the claim.
Liability Can Affect the Length of a Claim
In an accident, one party is usually to blame or at-fault for the injuries of another. This is generally referred to as liability, meaning one person is liable to another for the injuries from an accident.
In some cases, it is clear who is the cause of an accident and who is at fault. In other cases, it could be a “he said, she said” situation where liability is in dispute. If the parties are disputing liability, then insurance adjusters may want to investigate the facts of the accident heavily to determine who, if anyone, is at fault. This additional investigation often takes time to conduct and may result in a slower resolution of a personal injury case. The investigation can include the use of a private investigator, interviewing witnesses, contacting local police, and consulting with experts who can help interpret the evidence. Further, contested liability cases are much harder to settle and often end up in a courtroom.
On the other hand, if liability is clear, there may not be a need for additional investigative work. The police report is often sufficient. This can speed up the process. If an insurance company accepts liability, often the company is willing to move forward onto other aspects of the claim.
Different Injuries Can Cause Different Settlement Times
In personal injury claims, not all injuries are treated the same. After an accident, some people have minor injuries and make a quick recovery. However, other people may sustain catastrophic injuries or even die. The nature and complexity of injuries due to an accident can affect the length of time necessary to settle a claim. More serious injuries that are worth significant money usually take longer than less serious, lower value claims.
Further, an attorney will want to know the extent of injuries before attempting to settle a case. To ensure that you obtain a fair offer for your injuries, an attorney usually does not begin to negotiate a settlement until all of your medical treatment is done or at least the extent of your future medical treatment is known.
Surgery or more aggressive treatment often means a longer path to recovery. This can also lead to a longer personal injury case. Sometimes victims want to settle their case before their treatment is complete. Generally this is not a good idea. Once you reach a settlement, your case is over. If you need additional treatment in the future you will not be able to reopen your case to cover it. There is no second chance to get a personal injury claim correct. Therefore, it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney from the beginning of your case through settlement.
Insurance Companies Have Different Approaches to Settling Cases
Insurance companies are businesses. They do not want to pay out on claims if they don’t have to. Insurance companies often look for ways to deny claims and may look to delay legitimate claims.
Each insurance company has a different approach to settling claims. Some attempt to settle claims immediately and for a value far lower than what a case is worth. Other companies make it difficult to settle any claims and prefer litigation. Still others like to spend a lengthy time investigating before making any offer on a case even with clear liability and damages.
Most people are not familiar with the hundreds of insurance companies that operate in Illinois. Therefore, they are not sure what type of company they are dealing with when they sustain injuries. This is a very good reason to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An accident victim will want to obtain proper advice regarding the insurance company at issue in your case.
Since the policies and defense tactics of insurance companies vary significantly, a personal injury claim is greatly affected by which insurance company is defending the case. Both the insurance company at issue and the assigned insurance adjuster can speed up or slow down a case significantly depending on the procedures they use in evaluating a case.
While an accident victim may want to know how long their case will take, it is not always possible to give an answer. This is because each case is different. Even an experienced lawyer cannot predict how every fact will play out during a claim.
Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffer injury through the negligence of someone else and you want to discuss a potential claim, please call the personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free consultation. We are here to discuss your options and the facts of your personal injury case.
We understand that accidents happen at all hours of the day and night. This is why we have a lawyer standing by 24/7 to take your call at (312) 924-7575. We will take your call whenever it is convenient for you. There is no obligation for speaking with us and it is a confidential phone call.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we offer free in-home and in-hospital consultations for those too injured to meet with us in our offices. We are ready to fight to make the financial recovery you deserve for your injuries. Contact us through this website or give us a call at (312) 924-7575.
If you have been injured due to the actions of another person, call Abels & Annes, P.C. today at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online for a free case consultation.