The proceedings for a personal injury claim are controlled and impacted by a large number of variables. While there is certainly no cookie-cutter process that applies to all claims, the following general considerations apply in most cases. Because each personal injury claim is unique, our recommendation is to always speak to an attorney at Russell & Hill, PLLC, to discuss your claim fully.
How Does a Personal Injury Claim Process Usually Work?
A personal injury claim begins when you have been injured and ends when you have been compensated for your injuries. When you hire an attorney, the claims “process” should begin in earnest. When your law firm handles and directs the claims process correctly, you should feel as though you’re able to focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to normal.
Typically, the insurance companies involved (both yours and of those responsible for your injuries) are put on notice of your claim by your personal injury attorney. This allows your attorney to communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that your medical bills are being paid by the right people. Then, your medical treatment and healing progress are monitored by your attorneys. When your doctors say that you’ve fully healed from your injuries or reached your maximum medical improvement, a settlement demand is prepared by
When your doctors say that you’ve fully healed from your injuries or reached your maximum medical improvement, a settlement demand is prepared by your attorneys and sent to the insurance company of the person that injured you. Upon receipt of the settlement demand, further negotiations typically occur in an effort to resolve the claim and avoid a lawsuit.
If the insurance company is unwilling to make a reasonable offer for settlement, a lawsuit must be filed. Generally, insurance companies follow the “delay, deny, defend” method regarding personal injury suits. They know that a lawsuit will be difficult for you and your family. They know that your resources are limited and theirs are unending. They know that they can simply buy expert testimony to undermine your case. Filing a lawsuit is a last option. In some cases, however, a lawsuit must be filed in order to procure a reasonable resolution to your claim.
Timeframe of a Personal Injury Claim
The timeframe for your personal injury claim is difficult to determine and will depend upon two primary factors, but is impacted by several additional variables.
First, the timeframe depends on how long it takes you to completely recover from your injuries. When making a personal injury claim to an insurance company, it is a one-bite-at-the-apple approach. When we reach a settlement of your claim, we must ensure that you are fully compensated. Once a settlement is reached, you will not be able to make a future claim for the same injuries. So, we must wait until your injuries have resolved in order to negotiate a settlement.
Second, the timeframe depends on whether the insurance company makes a good-faith effort to resolve the claim prior to litigation. Generally, insurance companies, especially auto insurers, do not negotiate in good faith and are not compelled to do so by the threat of a lawsuit.
As your attorneys, we will work with you to determine whether out time is better spent continuing negotiations with the insurance company or simply filing a lawsuit and proceeding to litigation.
The only specific time-related deadline when making a personal injury claim is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed. Generally, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is three years. If your lawsuit is not filed within the three-year period, it is barred and the court will dismiss the claim. Once a lawsuit is filed, a trial generally takes place between 12 and 18 months later, depending on the county in which the lawsuit is filed.
As you can see, predicting the timeframe for resolution of a personal injury claim is quite difficult. It depends on several variables including the complexity of your injuries, issues of fault, whether the insurance company negotiates in good faith, and whether a lawsuit must be filed. Regardless of the claim, you should not hesitate to contact the personal injury attorneys at Russell & Hill so that we can discuss your claim with you as soon as possible.
Common Hiccups and Road Blocks for your Personal Injury Claim
Each personal injury claim has unique issues and problems that must be considered and dealt with. No two cases are exactly alike. There are, however, certain issues that pop-up in a large percentage of cases.
As discussed throughout this guide, the work that has to be done on a personal injury claim can be significantly tied to whether the insurance company is being reasonable. Insurance adjusters are incentivized to settle claims for as little as possible. Insurance adjusters handling low-value claims are typically not well versed in law or medicine and do not evaluate claims reasonably. One of the most common
One of the most common roadblocks of reasonable resolution of a personal injury claim is an insurance adjuster taking an unreasonable position and forcing us to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Generally, one of the most used insurance positions to refuse payment of your claim is if you’ve suffered a prior injury. For example, if you injured your back at work several years ago and then re-injured the same area in an automobile collision. The insurance company for the person who hit you in the auto accident will undoubtedly take the position that you were not actually injured in the accident, but that you still suffer from the prior work injury.
Another potential roadblock for a personal injury claim is the lack of insurance coverage. The reality is that most individuals do not have the personal assets to compensate someone for injuries they cause. This is why most people and businesses purchase liability insurance. In some circumstances, however, a person may experience an injury that would not be covered by an insurance policy. Without insurance coverage, the likelihood of compensation for your injury decreases greatly.
Finally, a key roadblock for a personal injury claim is uninformed expectations, both in terms of value of a claim and the time a claim will be resolved. Members of the public tend to be quite misinformed regarding the process for making a personal injury claim and the potential value of that claim. A personal injury claim is intended to compensate an injured victim. A personal injury claim is not “jackpot justice.” Our clients’ expectations must be reasonable from the outset, and working with you to manage your expectations appropriately is part of what we do at Russell & Hill, PLLC.
What Your Attorney Needs to Net a Great Result
Your attorney cannot obtain fair compensation for you without your assistance. First and foremost, we need you to always remember that we are a team. Our team does not succeed unless you succeed. We are your advocates in what will almost certainly be a fight to obtain reasonable compensation for you.
Not only are we fighting huge insurance companies, we are fighting to persuade jurors who may enter the court with incorrect, preconceived notions about the civil justice system.
To assist us in this fight, we must have your cooperation. Your attorney cannot possibly succeed in obtaining a great result for you without your full cooperation. You must be an active participant in your claim and you must assist us when called upon to do so. At times, we may need you to sign paperwork or come into the office to review your claim. We may need you to help gather documents pertinent to your claims. We will certainly need you to assist when we ask.
We will also need absolute honesty from you regarding every aspect of your claim. We are not in the business of “jackpot justice” and require an accurate factual foundation on which to build your claim and prepare for litigation. In order to develop a provable claim, we must have total honesty from you. Keep in mind, all of your conversations with our office are protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Finally, we need your patience. Making a personal injury claim can be a long, drawn-out process. It is common for the time-frame to become frustrating. There are many factors that impact the length of time it takes to resolve a claim. There are occasions in which your attorney will make decisions that will add time to the process in order to ensure fair compensation. The process is always slow. In order to get a great result for you, your attorney must have your patience.
If you’re interested in finding an experienced attorney to help you file your personal injury claim, contact our office to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We’re excited to help you on your road to recovery.