In general, personal injury cases have two phases: 1) pre-suit (before filing a lawsuit) and :2) suit (after filing a lawsuit). The pre-suit phase usually lasts until you, the injured, has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI - you are as good as you are going to ever be with medical treatment). It is important to note that your failure to reach MMI may affect the length of your case because the Defendant and their insurance carrier will claim that they could not make a proper offer evaluation of your case because they could not fully assess your injuries.
During the pre-suit period, your attorney is also investigating the case. This involves: 1) doing background checks on all parties involved; 2) obtaining police reports and/or incident reports; 3) obtaining insurance disclosures and insurance policies from the defendants; 4) obtaining witness statements and affidavits; 5) doing scene inspections; 6) requesting crime grids; 7) doing legal research regarding similar cases; 8) obtaining your medical records, and 8) anything else that would be key for proving your injuries and liability in your case. Although many people may think that their attorneys may be dragging their feet (even though I am sure some may be guilty of this), requests for these documents along with analyzing the records received takes time. After all, the documents proving the defendant's negligence/liability have ben obtained and you have reached MMI, your attorney will then file a demand to the defendant/insurance company. Often, the defendant will be given approximately 30 days to evaluate the demand package and respond.
If you reject the settlement offer from the defendant/insurance company or they have decided to deny the claim completely you now will make decision with your lawyer whether or not to file suit. Once your lawsuit is underway, there are procedural rules that allow certain lengths of time to respond to pleadings such as the Complaint, Interrogatories and Requests for Production. In addition, scheduling events such as depositions and compulsory medical examinations become sources of delay because both parties and their counsel have to be available on a certain date and time. Other events must also take place prior to the trial, such as mediation - another opportunity to settle. Trial is coordinated by the judge. Due to back log on the court docket, it may be months before the judge is available to set the trial on your case. It is important to note that multiple trials are scheduled during the same trial calendar - the oldest case usually goes first. In many cases where a lawsuit is filed it can take over two years or more to resolve the case.
An insurance company or a Defendant will be willing to settle a case quickly if you are willing to take less money than you should. You should evaluate your case, the liability, your injuries, and your future treatment before selling yourself short. It is key to always remember, that the first offer that the defendant/insurance company makes is exactly that, their first offer.
Olga Porven, P.A., a Miami Personal Injury law firm, specializes in personal injury cases such as wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, negligent security, trucking accidents, nursing home abuse and neglect and traumatic brain injuries. Olga Porven, a former insurance defense attorney, has the insight into what the insurance companies strategies are in defending personal injury cases. Ms. Porven prides herself on her case by case approach, giving each client individualized attention and thorough representation.
If you or a loved on have been injured as a result of the negligence of another, contact us for a free consultation or call us at 305-901-1227.