A personal injury can lead to expensive medical care and lost wages from missed time at work. It is normal to want your personal injury case to settle as quickly as possible so that your family can receive the money it needs to move forward. Rushing into a fast settlement, however, may not be in your best interests.
Settlement: Several Months
A personal injury case in Georgia can be resolved in two ways: a settlement or a personal injury trial. Most cases do not go to trial. They end with settlements between the injured party (plaintiff) and the insurance company. Settlements are faster, confidential and they require less money in legal expenses than trials. A settlement also allows you to stay in control of the outcome of your case.
Most personal injury settlements in Georgia take three to six months to complete, on average. Your claim may take less time – only a matter of weeks – if it is simple and involves minor injuries, or if you have serious injuries but a very strong case against the defendant. In these cases, an insurance company may be willing to pay out the maximum of the policy’s limits without further investigation or dispute. Your settlement may take longer, on the other hand, if it has complicating factors.
Personal Injury Trial: One Year or Longer
Your injury case may have to go to court if the insurance company is refusing to settle it fairly. If the company is denying fault, has rejected your insurance claim, or is failing to offer an adequate amount for your injuries and losses, you may have no choice but to take the defendant to trial. A trial can take a year or longer to resolve, as it involves detailed processes such as the discovery phase. You will also have to wait for a court date to become available at your courthouse, which can take several months in a busy county.
Factors That Can Affect Your Settlement Timeline
These are average timelines; they may not be accurate for your particular case. Many different issues or obstacles could lead to delays in settling your personal injury case, including:
- Having to wait to reach your point of maximum medical improvement.
- Missing information or making mistakes on your injury claim.
- Factual conflicts that need additional investigation.
- An excessively long investigation by the insurance company.
- Liability disputes with the insurance company.
- Disputes regarding pre-existing injuries.
- A high-value case with a lot of money involved.
- Lengthy settlement negotiations with the insurer.
- Insurance bad-faith tactics, such as intentionally delaying your payout.
There are also ways for you to speed up your claim, such as by hiring a lawyer to take care of complicated paperwork and legal processes for you. With so many variables, it is difficult to accurately estimate how long your personal injury case will take to settle without talking to an attorney.
The Answer: It Depends
The most important thing to remember is that there is no rush. You can allow your expenses and debts to add up if you cannot afford to pay them out of pocket while you wait for your personal injury case to settle. If your case eventually succeeds, no matter how long it takes, the compensation you receive can be used to pay off any liens or debts.
Jumping into a fast settlement, however, is irreversible. Once you settle your case, you cannot reopen it or negotiate for more money, even if you discover that your injuries are more serious than you thought and you need additional medical care. It is critical to be certain that the amount you are settling for fairly and justly compensates you for your past, present and future losses.
Rather than accepting the first settlement offered to you by an insurer in an attempt to resolve your case quickly, consult with a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta. A lawyer can help you resolve your case as efficiently as possible while still protecting your legal rights and fighting for maximum financial compensation on your behalf.