Taking the step to file a personal injury claim is monumental. You probably have many questions about the process and are confused about when and if you will get any money. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer regarding when a check will come. Consequently, there is no guarantee that you will win your case. The burden of proof rests on you and your attorney’s shoulders. You must be able to prove to the court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that due to the other party’s negligence, you have suffered greatly. Regardless, all cases have a similar process that can help ease your mind.
Consultation With Farar & Lewis
First, you must realize that not every person who has been in an accident has grounds for a lawsuit. During your initial consultation, we will review your potential case. Because we work on a contingency basis, we do not take on cases that we cannot win. However, even if we show the court irrefutable proof, there is always the chance that we can lose. You have the right to appeal the court’s decision, but this can extend your compensation payment date out even further. Keep in mind, you can also lose on appeal. The good news is that if you have injuries that are well documented, the chances of not getting any compensation are slim.
The Demand Letter
One important thing for you to remember during this process is that all cases do not end in court. Many cases can be settled through negotiations. When we first take on your case, we will review the facts and make an informed decision regarding your compensation amount. We use a process of calculations to determine your pain and suffering, and we add that to the cost of your medical bills. We start with a demand letter to the insurance company. Because we have so much experience dealing with these companies, we know how they, typically, act and react to different situations. In most cases, they will try to fight the dollar amount. Some will entertain negotiations while others flat our refuse.
If they are willing to negotiate on the matter, we go back and forth regarding the dollar value of the claim. In these cases, the insurance company knows that they have a slim chance of winning in court. Remember, they want to pay as little as possible toward your claim as possible. Trials are a very expensive process that the insurance company wants to avoid. They must pay for their attorney’s time, and it can be a quite long and drawn out process. If they can settle quickly, they can close the claim and move on.
Negotiations can be a battle that includes many back and forth conversations. This process can happen in a meeting or through phone calls and emails. You must decide, with the assistance of your attorney, what you are willing to take for your claim. The insurance company has a bottom dollar, and you have a bottom dollar. The goal is to get in the general neighborhood, on price, so that the claim can be settled. The good news is that about 95 percent of cases in the United States are settled out of court.
The Court Trial
For the five percent of cases that never made it through negotiations, we end up in court. Here, you can choose to have a trial by jury or by a judge. We must prove our case to the court. The cases that end up in court are usually the ones with major issues where high dollar amounts are requested. In this scenario, we must bring in expert witnesses, doctors’ reports, and any other evidence we have. Trials can take one day or a couple weeks to complete. It all depends on how many witnesses must be called, and how long their testimonies are. Once the verdict has been handed down, the insurance company is required to pay. However, there is another loophole to consider. They can appeal the decision and further draw out the payment process.
In most cases, the insurance company doesn’t appeal. They may appeal when the compensation amount is in the millions, like for a wrongful death claim. Typically, you will get your money within 30 days after the end of the trial.
One thing to keep in mind is the more money we ask for the more the insurance company will bulk. Because the process is not cut and dry, there are many variables that can and will affect your outcome. However, we only take cases at Farar & Lewis that we know we can win. You never pay one dime unless you get the compensation you deserve.
The last thing you want if for your personal injury case to drag on for years. When you have an injury, you want it resolved within the shortest time possible. If you settle early, you can have the matter resolved in a few days. However, in most cases, settling very early may mean getting lesser than the full value of your claim. Most injured parties settle early because of the immediate medical expenses. In most cases, insurance companies make early offers to avoid having to pay more. While most personal injury cases are settled out of court. It is wise to consult with a personal injury attorney. They will advise on whether it is wise to settle, how much to settle for and if your case has a better chance at trial.
Personal injury cases can take days, weeks or even months. There are several factors that influence how long the case will take. Most of these factors have to do with the case itself, while others are within your control. For starters, making a claim immediately can ensure that your case does not take too long. However, it is good to file a claim once you have received medical treatment. Engaging with a personal injury lawyer will also ensure that your case moves speedily. The lawyer will begin the investigations as you take much needed time to recover.
There are times in the personal injury case when you may wonder why your case is taking too long. There are several explanations to this.
Factual problems regarding the case
When your case drags on for longer than is necessary, the most likely explanation is that there are factual problems surrounding your case. Remember that before you receive compensation, you need to prove liability and damages (how badly you were injured). Liability is hard to prove, and there are instances when proving liability is complex. For instance, if you were involved in an accident and more than one party was at fault. The court needs to determine the percentage of fault for each of the parties. Cases of defective products also involve complex liability issues. The investigation process involving product liability is extensive, and it may take months.
Another factual problem is proving damages. There are instances when there would be conflicting medical reports. For example, the physician may not be sure that the injuries were as a result of the accident or incident in question. The courts may order for further tests and diagnosis. This can take longer. This is why it is advisable for you to wait until the treatment is over. Some of the symptoms can be progressive. This means that they could show up much later.
You have not attained the Maximum Medical Improvement Point
The personal injury lawyer will advise you to wait until you have reached the maximum medical improvement point. This, of course, means that it will take longer to resolve your case. The MMI point refers to the stage where you have stabilized. It is prudent for you to wait so that you can know how to value your claim. In most cases, the insurance company will attempt to make an offer before your condition stabilizes. It is best to wait if you want to recover the full value of your claim.
When the case involves lots of money
If you suffered an impairment or a permanent injury, then you stand to get a higher insurance payout. The courts will want a thorough investigation before they can direct that you receive a huge sum of money. The trial may involve expert witnesses to help add credibility to your claims. The court may also order for a mental evaluation if you are making a claim for emotional trauma. As such, you can expect the trail to take long.
If the courts and judges are busy
Your personal injury case may be rescheduled several times because the judges are busy. In most courts, the trial is done half day. This can drag the case for long. While most of these elements are outside your control, hiring a personal injury lawyer can help speed up the process.