Understandably, people who are pursuing personal injury cases often wonder how far they will have to go to obtain compensation for what happened. No personal injury attorney can guarantee that you will get money, but most successful cases fall into a handful of categories.
Settlement Within Weeks
There are times when insurers or defendants are highly motivated to get cases settled. Frequently, these cases are just very open-and-shut. Someone slips and falls on a wet floor at a mall, for example. They break their arm, and there isn't much else for the defendant to do but pay the bills, offer compensation for failing to keep the mall safe, and let everybody get on with their lives.
However, it's wise to have personal injury representation even when a case seems to be simple and ready to settle quickly. Your foremost concern should be that you're not missing some basic details. If you cracked your head, for example, you'll want to know there wasn't brain damage before you accept a settlement. A lawyer can help you to delay a quick-moving process to ensure you sort these issues out.
Months or a Couple of Years
Most cases land in this category. Primarily, this is because it takes a few months to figure out how well a victim is recovering. Likewise, the statute of limitations, between two and three years in most U.S. states, tends to prevent them from going longer.
Typically, a personal injury attorney needs to wait for reports from first responders, doctors, specialists, or police officers. These can provide insights into what happened, who did or didn't do what, and how extensive the victim's injuries are. Only once a lawyer has this information will they consider sending a demand letter to the defendant or their insurance provider. Often, these efforts take somewhere between a few months and a couple of years to handle.
Protracted Negotiations or Lawsuits
Some cases go on longer. This can occur because the two sides can't agree and have to negotiate. Also, if an insurer rejects a claim or provides too weak of a settlement offer, your only remaining option to get compensation may be to sue.
Notably, the statutory limit is met when you send the defense a demand package. That means whatever happens afterward, you're not watching the calendar to make sure your case meets legal muster.
On the downside, a handful of extreme cases can drag on for years or decades. Fortunately, the vast majority of claims aren't in this category.