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Abels & Annes, P.C. Chicago Injury Blog

How Long Does it Take to Settle a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

“How long does it take to settle a personal injury lawsuit?” This is a question almost every accident victim wants to know the answer to. Knowing how long your case may take is important, because most plaintiffs are undergoing challenging and costly treatments for the injuries they sustained during the traumatic accident. Therefore, along with putting the accident and legal matters behind them, receiving compensation to cover bills is foremost on the typical personal injury victim’s mind.

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit is any litigation that is filed on behalf of an accident victim after they sustain injuries due to negligence. The injured party must have been hurt because of someone else’s negligence or intentional action. Personal injury lawsuits can include:

Negligence in a personal injury lawsuit has four key components: duty of care, a breach of said duty, causation, and recoverable damages.

Duty of care refers to the duty that all people have to keep others around them safe. In the case of a car accident, drivers have a duty to drive carefully. Meaning, they won’t text or drive, or drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A breach of this duty is an element of negligence, meaning they breached their duty of care to others by acting carelessly.

Next, causation needs to be proved. Your attorney must be able to prove that someone else’s negligence directly caused the accident and injuries to occur. This may sound obvious, but there can be issues. For example, someone slips and falls and suffers a back injury, but the defense attorney argues that the plaintiff had a pre-existing injury. The plaintiff’s attorney would then have to prove that the back injury was not preexisting or that it was made worse because of the fall.

And finally, you must prove that you have recoverable damages, like medical bills, pain and suffering, or lost wages. Without damages, there’s no reason to file a lawsuit.

If you have injuries from an accident and you believe your injuries were due to someone else’s negligence, you should contact an attorney to help build your case.

If someone you love dies because of a personal injury accident or illness, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when someone passes away in a personal injury accident, such as a car accident or medical malpractice, and said accident was due to the negligence of a third party.

Common Injuries from Personal Injury Accidents

Injuries differ depending on the type of accident that you were involved in, but there are many common injuries that we see over and over in personal injury cases.

Back and Neck Injuries

Back and neck injuries are incredibly common in vehicle accidents, like those involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrians. The force of being hit by a car is enough to cause severe injuries to the spine, herniated discs, torn spinal muscles, and whiplash. Spinal cord injuries and other types of back and neck injuries can lead to complications like paralysis and disability.

Head Injuries

Head injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, are common in all types of traffic accidents, as well as slip and fall accidents and nursing home abuse. Head injuries occur when the head is struck with a great force or penetrated by some object. This can occur when someone falls and hits their head on a hard surface, like a store floor. Head injuries can range from mild to severe, depending on the level of trauma. Brain injuries can range from concussions, injuries to brain tissue, and situations like a coma, vegetative state, or brain death.

Broken Bones and Fractures

Broken bones and fractures can occur during any type of accident and are sometimes pretty easy to treat. However, if the break is bad enough it may require surgery or cause other complications. This surgical repair often includes hardware, like screws and plates, that are affixed to the bone(s). This can be permanent or later removed with an additional surgery.

Internal Injuries

Internal injuries can be incredibly dangerous, especially since you may not even know that you have one. Internal injuries include internal bleeding and damage to the organs. Internal injuries can occur because of blunt force trauma or penetration into the abdominal or chest area.

Lacerations and Bruises

Lacerations and bruises are common in almost all types of accidents and they often occur alongside other injuries. Most bruises will heal on their own, and some cuts will heal up fine. However, many lacerations can leave disfiguring scars. Further, some complications like infection can result with serious or multiple lacerations.

Injuries in the Hospital

Medical malpractice is a bit different than other personal injuries, just because these cases begin when a person is already in the hospital or at the doctor’s office. You may be in the hospital for an injury or an illness and a healthcare professional’s decision or lack of decision leads to a worsening of the condition. Medical malpractice can occur when there’s a misdiagnosis, an error in a prescription or dosage, a surgical error, or you are discharged too early.

How Long Does It Take To Settle A Claim? There Are Many Variables.

The truth is that there are numerous variables that must be taken into account. Every case is unique and therefore it can be difficult to generalize a timetable.

For a much more accurate estimate, the best thing to do would be to contact a personal injury attorney and request a free personal injury consultation. This way you would have a much better idea about how your particular case would work.

Injuries and Medical Treatment is a major factor in a personal injury claim’s lifespan

  • The severity of the injury and the duration of time it would take to treat medically are major factors in determining the length of a personal injury case. It is important to allow plenty of time for a doctor to determine the extent of the patient’s injury and how permanent the injury is.
  • Furthermore, medical bills are not the only issue involved: Pain, suffering, lost income, and other issues are wrapped up in the package of damages for which a claimant seeks compensation. Before negotiating a settlement, it is critical that these factors have been assessed, which can take some time to determine.
  • This is an important point. Settling too soon can set you up for difficulties down the road. If you do so, you may be sacrificing money you’re entitled to in the future. A settlement is permanent, and once your case has settled, it cannot be opened again.

The Defendant’s Insurance Carrier can be significant. Some insurance carriers are better than others. Some can be reasonable, and some will remain unreasonable until the eve of trial.

The Insurance Adjuster assigned to your claim file can make a difference as well. Some adjusters move quickly, some are slow, some are fair, some are not.

Settling out of Court vs. Litigation. At some point the insurance company may make an offer to settle your case. When that occurs you will have to decide, with the assistance of counsel, whether to accept the offer or move forward with a lawsuit. I often tell my clients that I can only give them my best advice and make recommendations, but they are the boss. The plaintiff ultimately makes that decision as to whether to settle or move on to a courtroom setting. Going to court can often add significant value to your case, however litigation takes time and it can add years to your case.

There are so many factors involved in any personal injury case. If you are wondering how long it will it take to settle your case, you should contact an experienced Personal Injury attorney as soon as possible.

Who’s Liable for my Injuries?

Liability in a personal injury case is determined by who is at fault for your injuries. In many cases, there’s only one liable party. For example, in most car accident cases, the liable party is the one who caused the accident by acting with negligence, such as texting while driving or otherwise recklessly driving.

However, sometimes there can be more than one party at fault. For example, you’re stopped at a red light and a driver at that same intersection fails to yield turning left and gets hit by a speeding drunk driver. Further, one of those vehicles crashes into you. In this example, there would be more than one at-fault party to pursue for your injuries.

In truck accidents, liability can be even more complicated. Liable parties could include the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck owner, the manufacturers, the loaders, or any combination of those parties, depending on which of those parties’ actions caused the incident to occur.

With slip and fall accidents, the liable party is most often the owner of the property where you fell. However, the liable party could be anyone from a local construction company that left out building materials to the cleaning service that did not use wet floor signs.

In medical malpractice cases, the liable party could be multiple different people. It could be the specific doctor who commits malpractice. However, the hospital is often sued, in addition to the individual doctor or nurse, even though they may be directly responsible for your surgical error, under an agency theory. Medical malpractice cases are extremely complicated and healthcare facilities are well-protected by law. Therefore, hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle your medical malpractice case is crucial.

Liability is a tricky subject and one of the main reasons you should hire an experienced attorney to help you with your personal injury case. Your attorney will investigate further into your accident to determine exactly how the duty of care was breached and how that led to your injuries.

What is the settlement value of my case?

You may be curious about how much your settlement is going to be after a car accident or slip and fall. However, this is a complicated question to answer. Many insurance companies will low ball you at first, or not offer a settlement at all. Other insurance companies may offer what seems like a high settlement right after the accident, but their offer is actually much less than your case is worth.

It really all depends on liability, damages, and the insurance coverage available for the accident. You can calculate part of your settlement by looking at the costs from your economic damages. This refers to adding up the costs of your medical bills, lost wages, and other costs that occurred directly because of your injuries.

Where it gets trickier–and one reason why you need to hire a personal injury attorney–is when you need to calculate the value of pain and suffering or of future lost earning capacity. These types of damages, known as general damages, cannot easily have a monetary value placed on them. Because of this, you need a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney that can negotiate with the insurance companies to get you a good settlement.

Further, while it might not be hard to calculate the amount of your medical bills, attorneys are very good at negotiating to reduce those bills. Accident victims without counsel are usually stuck paying the full amount due.

Free Personal Injury Lawyer Case Consultation

Hopefully this has shed some light on the question, “How long does it take to settle a personal injury case? While the answers clearly can vary, requesting a FREE Personal Injury Case Consultation or calling (312) 924-7575 can get you much more specific answers!

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