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How Long Should a Personal Injury Case Take to Settle?

Since unintentional injuries are the most common cause of death across the US, leaving the scene of an accident with simple injuries may feel like a blessing. However, they can still be painful and expensive to contend with, and you deserve compensation after being involved in a personal injury case.

But how long should a personal injury case take to settle?

Read on to learn how long it will likely take to get the compensation you’re due (and why the timeframe makes sense.)

How Long Should a Personal Injury Case Take to Settle?

This question sounds simple, so people tend to expect a definite answer. Unfortunately, there is no single answer to how long tort cases take.

The U.S. Department of Justice ran a study to see how long tort cases generally took to settle. They found that there was an average of 26.5 months between the plaintiff filing the case and a verdict being reached.

However, this figure is highly variable. It also looks into the time between filing and trial, not the time between the injury itself and the trial. This means that it’s hard to know how long after an injury you might reach a settlement.

As this study is also from 2005, figures may have changed greatly since then. Unfortunately, as it is the most recent study of its kind, it is the only available definitive answer to the question of personal injury case timeframes.

Factors Impacting Your Legal Case Timeframe

As you can see, it’s basically impossible to give an exact estimate of how long it will take a personal injury case to settle. It’s much easier to pinpoint what factors contribute to this timeframe.

Understanding multiple aspects of your specific situation will help you come up with a more accurate estimate of when you can expect compensation.

The Extent of Your Injuries

Those with minor injuries will have shorter case timeframes than those with major injuries. This is because people who were injured more will require more compensation.

They’ll have higher medical bills and require damages for missing wages and other issues. This means that the negotiation process will likely be longer since there will be more to talk about.

During a tort case, your attorney will have to prove that you were injured and underwent pain and suffering. You can only collect compensation for proven injuries rather than possible conjectures.

This means that attorneys will need to take time to dredge up medical records that talk about injuries and show required treatments. So, those with worse injuries and more medical records will have longer case timeframes.

Liability Being Contested vs Uncontested

In some cases, both parties will easily agree on who is at fault. This is known as “uncontested liability,” and it makes the case go much smoother and more quickly. However, in many instances, the liability will be contested, and your attorney will need to gather evidence and prove why the other party is liable.

Nevada is a comparative negligence state. This means that each party bears a bit of the blame in most accidents, whether they were car crashes or product liability situations. The party that’s over 50% at fault is the responsible one.

However, your attorney will want to prove that you bear the lowest possible percentage of fault because those less at fault can recover more damages. This can take time, so you can expect cases with contested liability to take several months more than uncontested claims.

The Type of Case You’re Filing

There are several different types of personal injury cases that can be contested or uncontested. Some of the most common include:

  • Auto accidents
  • Medical malpractice (when a medical professional causes injuries because of improper treatment, incorrect diagnoses/medication, botched surgeries, etc.)
  • Product liability (when a product malfunctions and causes an injury to the user)
  • Workplace accidents
  • Premises liability (when someone is at fault for injuries that took place on their property)
  • Dog bites (in which you sue either the owner or the person who owned the property on which you were injured)
  • Construction accidents

Not all of these cases were created equal, and some require more attention and time than others.

For example, a medical malpractice claim that requires access to medical records and eyewitness accounts from other doctors may take longer than premises liability cases. There’s more to prove, and your attorney can’t simply request security footage and resolve the matter with that evidence.

The Types of Damages You Need

Generally, there are three types of compensation that you can get for your case.

Economic damages like medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, money for managing a disability, and loss of income are the easiest to negotiate. This is because all your attorney needs to prove is that you underwent a financial burden as a result of the injury. Economic damages will usually constitute the brunt of your compensation.

However, many personal injury plaintiffs also recover non-economic damages. Physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life are all options here. They’re often easiest to prove in cases of disfigurement or in situations where the plaintiff has been to extensive therapy.

In rare cases, your attorney also may try to get punitive damages. These are funds that the defendant must pay because of especially reckless or irresponsible behavior. Unlike other types of damages, they’re intended as punishment for the defendant’s conduct. If you want to try to recover punitive damages, your case will likely take longer than others.

What Types of Negligence Were Involved

Personal injuries necessarily require negligence to have taken place. In fact, the at-fault party’s negligence is the core thing you must prove to get compensation in a tort case.

However, not all negligence is considered equal under Nevada law. It’s easy to prove negligence after a truck rear-ends a car. All you need is security footage and reliable accounts of the incident.

It’s harder to prove that medical malpractice ruined the life of an already-injured patient.

Some cases are also heavily dependent on specific situations surrounding them. A premises liability case may go smoothly and easily if insufficient maintenance or careless neglect is obvious. However, slip-and-fall cases involving ice or other temporary hazards like spills can be harder to prove.

Harder-to-prove cases take longer because they will likely be more hotly contested.

Quantity and Quality of Evidence

Cases with more evidence will go quickly because there will be less room for the defendant’s insurance to contest your claims. Negotiations will go faster since there won’t be much to argue about.

This is especially true if all of the evidence is high quality. Your attorney will need to find it and compile it in a fair and organized way when making your case.

Your Lawyer’s Experience

The experience level of your personal injury lawyer will also make the case go faster or slower.

Inexperienced attorneys will have a worse understanding of Nevada law and struggle to compile a compelling case. They’ll still be learning on the job and will miss things that would be obvious to a more experienced attorney.

On the other hand, a lawyer with a lot of experience will have seen cases like yours before. They’ll know all of the tricks and pitfalls that insurance companies try to use in order to pay the least compensation possible. That means they’ll know how to avoid traps and advocate for you to get fair compensation.

This can mean several things for the timeframe of your case. In some cases, a less experienced attorney will make your case fly by because they fail to take the necessary time to compile evidence. This speedy process isn’t worth it because you won’t get a fair settlement.

Still, this is a toss-up. An experienced lawyer might make the case go faster because they’ll know what they’re doing.

Regardless, choosing someone with 10+ years of experience is in your best interests.

Defendant Behavior

Finally, your behavior during a case can make it go faster or slower.

If you have a lot of evidence that you already compiled at the accident site, things will go more quickly. Your attorney will already have a starting point. If you didn’t take photos, that’s okay, but it might mean that the case takes longer since your lawyer needs to find evidence from a past incident.

Plaintiffs who post about their injury on social media may take longer to get a settlement as well. This is because insurance companies can use it against you. If you’re posting, they may say that you didn’t take your injuries seriously, especially if you say things like “I’m okay” to eliminate concerns from loved ones.

Your lawyer will need to work harder if you do this, and you still may not get the compensation you’re due.

The Steps of a Personal Injury Case

The first thing to do post-injury is to seek medical attention for your injuries. Don’t worry about money – your health is the most important thing to take care of after you’re hurt. Your attorney will work with you later to get compensation for the medical bills.

As soon as you ascertain you’re okay or undergo treatment, the next thing to do is hire an experienced lawyer. Make sure that they’re local to Las Vegas. Local attorneys like those at Kaplan will have a thorough understanding of specific Nevada rules, regulations, and laws.

They can, therefore, accurately estimate how much you stand to get in terms of damages.

Your lawyer will tell you what compensation you might be eligible for. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Money to cover medical bills
  • Funds for ongoing treatment (physical therapy, trauma therapy, mobility aids)
  • Coverage for wages you lost when taking off work
  • Money to compensate for loss of earning potential
  • Pain and suffering damages

Since an experienced litigation attorney will likely have seen cases similar to yours before, they can tell you roughly how much money you stand to earn and what types of damages these funds will be.

Beginning the Case (6-12 months)

Starting your case will likely take anywhere between six months and one year. You will start filing initial paperwork with the help of your attorney. You also will inform the defendant that you mean to file a claim against them.

At this point, you’ll work with your attorney to start building a solid case. This means compiling evidence. The photos that you took of the accident site, your injuries, and the items/situations that caused the injury are a good place to start.

However, other evidence, like police reports and medical records, may be more challenging to get. Your attorney may need to issue a subpoena to get them as quickly as possible. They also may need to call in eyewitnesses (such as coworkers at workplace accidents) and get reports.

Some cases also benefit from accident reconstruction. Your lawyer may go to the accident site with reconstruction experts to try and put together what actually happened.

Once everything is in order, your attorney may submit a demand letter to your insurance company as well as the defendant’s. They’ll respond and begin the process of negotiating with your expert attorney.

Case Settlement (Undefined Timeframe)

While it probably won’t take longer than a year to research your case, it could take longer than that to settle. It could also only take a couple of months. This part of the process is the reason that the timeframe is so uncertain.

Your attorney will negotiate fair compensation with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Motions and other arguments may occur. Eventually, once a settlement is reached, you will be able to collect the money from the applicable insurance companies.

Start the Process of Hiring a Lawyer

So, how long should a personal injury case take to settle? The underwhelming answer is that it depends on your situation. However, hiring a litigation attorney sooner rather than later can speed up the process and keep you informed.

Kaplan Young is committed to helping injured parties in Nevada get the compensation needed to get their lives back on track. Our highly experienced boutique law firm has worked with many types of personal injury cases to ensure that clients can cover medical bills and lost wages. Contact our Las Vegas lawyers to get a consultation and begin filing your claim.

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