4 Common Questions about Personal Injury Settlements
Posted on August 17, 2021 at 12:00 AM by The Biker Lawyers
Your Top 4 Questions about Personal Injury Settlements Answered
How Long Does it Take to Get Personal Injury Settlement Money?
There is no specific timeline to reach settlement other than the date of your trial. Trial deadlines force the other side to come to the table and discuss what your case is worth. This process isn’t quick, typically. Most cases will be scheduled out for at least a year. This is part of why it’s important to hire an attorney to get your lawsuit filed after you’re injured.
It’s also important to note that settlement can happen at any point in time, but without proper incentive (such as trial), many insurance companies will simply sit and twiddle their thumbs instead of paying you.
Here’s a basic list of things to check off before settlement:
- Filing a Lawsuit and receiving trial deadlines (this gives the insurance companies their deadline to negotiate)
- Completing treatment for injuries (if there is permanent damage, completing an evaluation showing the permanency. If there will be a need for future, ongoing, medical treatment, an evaluation that estimates what that treatment will be, and the price of it).
- Depositions (insurance companies will typically depose you before they settle to double-check the story for any issues)
- Settlement analysis (this is where your lawyer will look through all potential damage categories for your case, tally up the total, and then provide a range for settlement).
- Settlement authority (Your lawyer will discuss what the range of settlement should be, then call to get your authority to negotiate on your behalf).
Cases that settle quickest typically share a few things:
- There is no question as to liability (Everyone knows who caused the crash and it wasn’t you).
- Your damages exceed Defendant’s policy limits (If you have $100,000 in medical bills, but they only have a policy for $20,000, for instance).
How long does the defendant have to pay a settlement?
The defendant, in most cases, isn’t paying the settlement out of their own pocketbook. They are covered by their insurance, who will be paying on their behalf. This is important, as most individuals do not have the money to pay out thousands of dollars in settlement.
Once the settlement has been agreed to, Defendant’s insurance company will send your attorney a release form for you to sign. The release form will contain some version of “I, the Plaintiff, release __________, the Defendant of all liability in exchange for $______.”
The release will, of course, contain multiple paragraphs of what we call “legalese”, but when you boil it down, that’s all it really does. It puts money in your pocket and lets everyone get on with their lives.
How Much Money is a Personal Injury Claim Worth?
As we’ve noted in the past, that depends on a variety of factors. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here. There is no formula, equation, or simple rule to determine the amount of money it takes to fairly compensate a person for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit.
The amount your lawsuit is worth will depend on the following:
What are your losses?
How much money is there to recover?
What are your losses?
In order to find out what your case is worth, we need to know what the damages and losses are. They typically come in the following categories:
Past Medical Expenses
Future Medical Expenses
Loss of Income
Loss of Future Earning Potential
Loss of Quality of Life
Pain and Suffering
Loss of Consortium
We take the total of those categories, and that’s the initial value of your case.
How much money is there to recover?
This is the harsh truth that everyone with a personal injury must face. Sometimes there isn’t much in the way of money to recover. When someone else injures you, typically they aren’t rich, so even though you’re suing that individual technically, you’re actually suing their insurance company in terms of recovering money.
That means whatever their insurance coverage is will directly affect how much money is on the table for you to get.
This is also why it’s so important to get your own insurance coverage to include underinsured and uninsured motorists so that your insurance comes into play after a crash.
If you have severe damage, let’s say, $100,000 in medical bills to start, and the Defendant only has $20,000 in insurance, then you’re not going to get $100,000 from the Defendant unless they are independently wealthy. You will likely end up with the policy limits of $20,000.
A good personal injury lawyer will almost always get you far more money for your personal injury damages than you could get yourself. The chances of getting a fair settlement without the help of a personal injury lawyer are slim. It can happen, but in our experience, rarely. If you don’t know if an offer is fair, you need to take all steps necessary to figure it out, and this almost always starts with having a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer such as Pete, Cam, or Dan.
Sometimes settlements are negotiated and the terms come together quickly, sometimes it takes weeks or months after the incident that gave rise to the claim. In all events, it takes time to arrange for settlement payments from third parties, whether those payments come through attorneys or other intermediaries.
Do I need a Lawyer?
The good news is most attorneys in personal injury offer free consultations. During these free consultations, they’ll review your case and let you know if you’ll need them or not.
Lawyers in the personal injury field tend to work off of a contingency fee, so it isn’t in their interest to take a bad case or one that won’t net much in the way of money. This is important because it lets you know that they aren’t going to waste time trying to sign you as a client if they think your case doesn’t need an attorney.
Much depends on the severity of your injury. If you lost time from work or had to pay extra to get medical care out-of-pocket, an attorney can help you get compensation for the damages you had to suffer. You should also hire a lawyer if the other party is not following through with their legal responsibilities. You need to know that you have rights and just what those rights are. You don’t have to take the first settlement offer, and often, you shouldn’t.
The smart move is to set up a free consultation with the best personal injury attorney near you and listen to what they have to say. At the end of it, you’ll have more information than you started with. Best case scenario; you have a clear path forward.
Your case can take a while to settle. That’s not unusual. It will depend on how much money you lost and how serious the harm was. It sucks, we know, but you still deserve answers. You should be able to put the loss of income, medical bills, and other expenses behind you in a timely fashion.
You deserve to know what you are entitled to receive – and we will help you find out, even if the other side continues to delay.
Have you suffered from an injury due to the actions of another?
We understand how difficult it is to live with these kinds of injuries, and we offer help when you are in need.