One of the most common questions after an accident is, “How long will my personal injury case take to settle?” This question is an important one. Statistics show that just about 5% of personal injury cases go to trial – the majority end in negotiated settlements.
An experienced Austin personal injury attorney can help you resolve your case. They understand the importance of guiding you through the physical, emotional, and financial upheaval you may be experiencing. At the same time, they understand the importance of obtaining a fair settlement.
The time it takes to settle your personal injury case varies greatly, but a broad understanding of the negotiation and settlement process can help provide a rough estimate. Consult an injury attorney for a case-specific consultation.
People face a variety of stressors after an injury. You may need time to recover fully, but the settlement process begins immediately.
After an accident, you should promptly report your accident to law enforcement and try to obtain a police report.
You should then gather as much evidence as you can at the accident scene if it is safe to do so. It is important to collect objective evidence, such as pictures and videos, and gather witness information. This evidence is valuable for supporting your case, particularly during the settlement process.
Immediately seek medical attention for any injuries you may have. Delays can negatively impact not only your health but the viability of your personal injury case.
One of the most significant factors that impact how long it takes to settle your case is the severity of your injuries and the length of treatment. It is not uncommon for the true extent of injuries to be unknown following an accident. It can take days, weeks, or months to fully recover. In some cases, injuries may, unfortunately, be permanent.
You should fully treat your injuries before you discuss settling your claim. If you settle your case too early, you will likely waive your right to future compensation.
You should be compensated for all injuries, including those that affected your wages or significantly lowered your earning potential.
Estimating the value of these damages can be difficult. Injury attorneys often work with economists and vocational experts to calculate these figures and negotiate a settlement that fully compensates you for all damages, present and future. Depending on the severity of your injuries, this process can take several months or years.
Accident investigation directly affects how long it will take for your personal injury case to settle.
After an accident, the defendant’s insurer will begin an investigation. Your attorney will also investigate on your behalf. This process entails gathering additional evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting experts, such as medical professionals or accident reconstruction analysts. The goal is to establish the at-fault party’s liability and accurately measure the compensation you need.
Not all investigations reveal favorable facts. In some cases, questions may arise regarding liability and damages. This can occur when multiple parties are involved, such as in multi-vehicle accidents. It can also happen when it is unclear whether damages were caused by the accident or another cause, such as a pre-existing condition.
Investigations may also reveal conflicting witness statements or no witnesses at all. These issues take time to resolve, prolonging the settlement process.
Once the initial investigation is complete, your attorney will draft a demand letter to the other party. The demand letter often describes the accident, the injuries suffered, and the theory of liability. The negotiation process formally begins at this stage.
In cases where liability is uncontested, the insurer may accept the demand or respond with a counteroffer. If the counteroffer is unsatisfactory, your attorney will negotiate for a more equitable sum or conduct further investigation and present new evidence to support your case.
This back-and-forth can be time-consuming and may take several months or years. If the insurance company ultimately rejects your demand, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit.
In Texas, you typically have only two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This is known as the statute of limitations.
Entering the litigation phase signifies the longest period in a personal injury case. This phase begins with filing a complaint in court. The complaint often mirrors the demand by outlining the plaintiff’s claim, theory of liability, and damages.
The defendant, or at-fault party, must respond to the complaint within a certain time frame after being served with it. In Texas, this response is known as an answer.
The discovery phase typically begins after the answer is filed. During this litigation phase, the parties may exchange evidence, take depositions, and scrutinize the opposing side’s theory of the case.
This allows the parties to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of their side. It is common for this process to last several months or years, depending on your case’s complexity.
Discovery is a pathway to settlement. Effective discovery ensures that both sides have the same facts and evidence, which gives each an equal opportunity to prove or disprove your claim.
During initial negotiations, it is not uncommon for both sides to lack the information they need. Discovery helps “fill in the blanks” with evidence and other details that can clarify the case. Because cases are unlikely to settle when important facts are unknown, discovery plays an important role in moving your personal injury case toward settlement.
Not all cases settle. Your personal injury case will proceed to trial if a settlement is not reached before, during, or after discovery. The duration of your trial depends on various factors. These include the complexity of your case, the number of witnesses to examine, and the court’s schedule.
A trial can range from a single day for simple cases to several weeks for complex ones. Once the trial concludes, the jury or judge will render a verdict. Even after the verdict, however, your case may not be over. There may be post-trial motions or an appeal in your case, which can add months or even years to the process.
Your personal injury case in Austin, Texas, can take months or years to settle. The exact timeline depends on several factors. A case with simple damages and uncontested liability may settle within months. However, if a lawsuit is filed and your case proceeds through discovery to trial, the resolution may be years away.
It is important to remember that every personal injury case is unique. Countless factors will determine its length.
Consult an experienced Austin personal injury attorney at FVF Law to discuss your case and the settlement timeline. Our attorneys will ensure that your rights are safeguarded throughout the process, no matter how long it takes, to get you fair compensation. Statistically, people who hire attorneys end up with much higher personal injury damages than people who don’t, so reach out today at (512) 982-9328 or contact us online.
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