When someone is injured because of another party’s reckless actions or omissions, they are usually anxious to receive their settlement, so they can start paying off their bills and move forward with their life. Unfortunately, things don’t usually happen too quickly. Even the simplest injury cases typically take at least a couple months to settle, and highly complex cases can sometimes take years. Each case is unique, and there are several factors that will affect the timeline of the case and when it is eventually resolved.
Some of the most important variables that may impact the timeline of a personal injury case include:
- The extent/severity of your injuries;
- Whether or not fault has been proven;
- The insurance adjuster/insurance company you are dealing with;
- The attorney who is representing you (if you have obtained legal representation).
How Badly were you Injured?
It is difficult to assign a value to your case if you are still undergoing treatment. If your injuries are serious, it may take several weeks or months to recover, or to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means that you have recovered as much as you are ever going to recover. You should have extensive documentation of your injuries, current condition, and future prognosis, and this should be verified by a reputable medical professional. It would be a mistake to accept any settlement offer until you have this information.
Is there a Problem Determining Liability for your Injuries?
One of the major factors in reaching a settlement in a personal injury case is determining the cause and who is at-fault for the injuries. If there is a question about liability, a settlement offer may not be forthcoming. In such cases, the insurance company may try to discredit you and claim that you are at least partially at fault. Alabama is a contributory negligence state, which is very unfavorable for plaintiffs in an injury case. Under this legal doctrine, all the defense has to do is prove that you are at least 1% at fault and you are barred from recovering compensation. For this reason, it is very important to retain extensive documentation of the incident (e.g., multiple photographs, police reports, statements from witnesses, testimony of expert witnesses, etc.) to ensure that you are able to prove that the other party was at-fault.
How is the Insurance Company treating You?
Picking up on the previous point, your settlement may be delayed if you are dealing with an insurance adjuster who is not acting in good faith. Some examples include claiming you are partially at-fault and/or downplaying the severity of your injuries. Another tactic they might use is to delay. Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations (from the date the injury occurred) to file a personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes, the insurer may become unresponsive if they believe they can run out the clock on the two-year deadline. This is especially common when an injury victim does not have legal representation.
Do you Have an Experienced Attorney Representing You?
Settling a personal injury case can be very difficult if you decide to go it alone. Even if the other party was clearly at-fault and you are entitled to damages, they may take advantage of the fact that you do not have an attorney by giving you a lowball settlement offer or trying to poke holes in your case. Having legal representation shows the insurance company that you are serious and compels them to change their approach. That said, it is also very important which lawyer you choose.
There are some attorneys that never take cases to trial. Instead, they rush their clients and try to pressure them to accept a settlement offer early on in the process. While most injury cases are settled without going to trial, it is important that your lawyer thoroughly prepares your case and is ready and able to take it to trial when necessary. They should also have a successful track record litigating cases for other clients. Oftentimes, an insurance company that has been dragging their feet for several months will suddenly come to the table and make a reasonable settlement offer once they know they are dealing with a seasoned personal injury attorney.
Speak to a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one was recently injured (or killed) because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, having strong legal counsel by your side can make all the difference in ensuring that you receive full compensation for your injuries in a timely manner. At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience with even the most complex personal injury cases, and insurance companies know that we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to successfully litigate your injury case if they are not willing to negotiate in good faith.
For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599 or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.