Personal injury claims can seem similar, but every case is unique, which makes it hard to figure out how long it takes to settle a claim without knowing the specifics. Some personal injury claims are settled very fast. While others, like those involving serious personal injury, can take over several years and even end in court.
Have you been injured in an accident? It is smart to talk with an attorney before accepting a settlement from the other party’s insurance.
While you may want to settle the matter quickly, insurance companies want to do something else: If you accept an offer before talking to an attorney, you will waive your ability to gain any additional compensation. This can result in victims having a hard time long after the initial settlement.
Why Personal Injury Claims Can Take Time
When you endure a horrific injury, there are steps that need to be taken to make sure you get the full compensation that your injury deserves.
Insurance companies don’t pay more than a policy’s limit, even when that limit is obviously inadequate. Once the insurer’s liability was met, they don’t have to pay more, regardless of the actual amount of damages you deserve–even then, a maximum payout will only happen if the at-fault party is obviously liable. Establishing liability is where a personal injury lawyer comes in.
In order to prove liability, an investigation into the accident may be needed. Your personal injury lawyer may have to work with an accident reconstructionist, doctors, and any other experts who can determine how the accident took place, who is at fault party, and what damages are expected. This process alone can take a few months but is essential for determining what your claim is worth.
Damages in a personal injury claim include:
- Medical and rehabilitation cost
- Lost wages
- Home modifications such as wheelchair or prosthetics
- Costs related to permanent injury like paralysis
- Property damage expenses
Personal injury claims often look for compensation for pain and suffering, too. Although, pain and suffering are not always considered in initial insurance settlements.
The Personal Injury Claim Process
After the first investigation, a letter of demand is sent to the insured and his or her insurance company. If the insurance company will not pay or offers too small of a settlement, a formal complaint is filed with the court. This is where the personal injury claim process can feel like it’s not moving forward.
Following the complaint filing, a discovery process then begins. While this happens, both your attorney and the defendant will put together information for the case with interviews, documents and medical reports, and other investigations. This is essential for creating a strong claim that can, if need be, stand-up in court. But, most cases don’t go to court. 90 percent of personal injury claims are settled out of court.
Settlement Negotiations and Mediation
Next, your attorney and the defendant’s attorney will begin settlement negotiations. Sometimes, this is where the process stops. In other cases, it moves through to mediation.
In mediation, both sides meet with a neutral third party, which is often appointed by the court, to present their cases and negotiate. Almost all personal injury claims are settled in this process. But, if your claim deals with large damages, the case will go to trial.
Personal Injury Trials
If mediation doesn’t work out, a trial is scheduled. The trial date can be set for several months in the future. While the trial itself may be short, there can be appeals after the judgment is decided, which further lengthens the time it takes to settle your claim. This is just one reason to make sure you are working with a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Retaining A Personal Injury Attorney In Louisiana
If you have been injured in an accident in Louisiana, Rusty Messer & Associates will help. Our experienced attorneys have the experience to handle every case.
It is vital to call a Louisiana accident attorney after your accident. Your attorney can then put together evidence in your case and work to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. The negligent party is responsible for your medical bills and other damages like lost wages, pain, and suffering. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the more likely you are to get a fair settlement.
Call Rusty Messer & Associates at (225) 963-9638 to discuss your case and your injuries, and learn about any compensation that you could be entitled to. With the help of Rusty Messer & Associates, you or your loved one will get the help you need. Don’t wait, contact us today.