When Should You Settle Your Personal Injury Case?
You may often ask yourself or your case manager, “When it’s a good time to wrap up my case?”. And any good case manager will tell you the truth — there is no set-in-stone timeline for settling a personal injury case. However, there are some factors to consider when deciding whether to settle a case or go to trial. These factors include the severity of injuries, liability, property damage, the insurance company, and policy limits. Each factor ties your case together.
Large property damage and severe injuries typically indicate that a case may take longer to come to fruition. An injured claimant may need to see their treatment through and follow doctor recommendations, which can take months or even years. Depending on the type of injuries, the injured party may be able to expedite their treatment; however, other injuries require more care and time between doctor visits.
“But I feel fine? Can’t we just get this over with?” Slow down! Take a breath! Be sure to allow injures to truly manifest following an accident. Due to the adrenaline rush following an accident, a person who has recently been involved in an incident may not feel any pain for days or even weeks at a time. Smaller property damage with soft-tissue injuries only can likely be closed out much faster given that property damage and treatment will resolve in a shorter amount of time than the former.
When liability is accepted, the insurance is more likely to pay on a claim sooner. Of course, injuries and damages are still considered; however, the negotiations may go smoother if liability has already been accepted. When liability is denied or comparative, the case will likely have to go to arbitration, mediation, or trial to be resolved. With denied or comparative liability, the insurance company may only offer a nuisance offer, if any offer at all. Be sure to have your claim evaluated by a professional to evaluate if the offer you received is fair or whether it is worth negotiating.
Finally, the insurance company and policy limits are important in considering when to settle a claim. Some insurance companies generally give relatively fair initial offers and are easier to work with during pre-suit settlement negotiations. Additionally, policy limits are important in settling a claim and the time frame in which to do so. For example, if a claimant has significant injuries and needs escalated treatment, and the policy is larger, the claimant may be able to treat more on a lien, affording the opportunity to receive the necessary medical care.
This is beneficial and often crucial to claimants who do not carry their own health insurance. For smaller policy limits, the case may be able to be closed sooner, given that there would be insufficient amount of money on the policy for an injured party to continue seeking lien-based treatment. The sooner treatment resolves, the sooner negotiations can begin. Even when a claimant is covered by health insurance, it is important to continue treatment before closing the case. A claimant may be unable to cover co-pays or easily get access to medical professionals who perform the procedures one might require.
Statute of Limitations
All factors considered — the length of each case will vary. Remember a claimant has two years from the date of the accident to conclude an injury claim before filing a lawsuit. This is known as the Statute of Limitations. Even before the Statute of Limitations run, it may be beneficial to take a case to trial when the case is strong, and the insurance company has not negotiated in good faith. The benefits of going to trial are that the offer may be increased when the adjuster is no longer involved, and defense counsel has been assigned. Even after a lawsuit has been filed, there may be a settlement before the case ever goes to mediation or trial.
Going to Trial
“Screw it! Let’s sue!” First, take another breath! Before filing a lawsuit, consider the benefits and disadvantages of the entire ordeal. Yes, the offer may increase, but not always significantly. Also, consider the costs you obtain. The cost of going to trial is also much greater than settling pre-suit. Costs include filing the suit, jury fees, experts, travel expenses, and more. The length of the case will most definitely be increased when a case goes to trial. Civil procedure has its own process. Depending on the county where the trial will be located, the trial date could be set six months or a year out. There is also a chance of going to trial and not winning. This would happen more often in a denied liability or comparative liability incident. Taking a case to trial is always a gamble—and those odds may not lie in your favor.
Hire an Attorney
Ultimately, a claimant should settle his case when his injuries have been fully addressed and a fair offer has been made by the insurance company. As detailed above, each case is significantly different based on a set of factors, giving each case its own unique timeline. It is best to avoid accepting a low offer early on. One should never accept a settlement offer that doesn’t, at the very least, cover all the medical expenses incurred. Once a release is signed, it’s nearly impossible to re-open the case and negotiate more money.
Therefore, it is critical to have your claim evaluated by an experienced personal injury attorney. Here at JT Legal Group, we can explain the personal injury process to you while evaluating your claim. We provide realistic expectations and deliver extraordinary results, whether we negotiate your settlement pre-suit or take your case to trial, you can rely on us and our amazing team to deliver excellence.
Give us a call at 818-797-7900 for a free evaluation of your case today.