Some delay is built into the system. Some if it happens on its own.
Let’s start at the beginning. There are 3 important decisions in every lawsuit:
1) The first is when you decide what your case is worth.
2) Then the insurance company decides what it is worth.
3) If the case does not settle a jury decides what the case is worth.
Things might disrupt that process, such as new information coming in, or the court granting a motion to dismiss, or an appeal from a judge’s decision, but these usually don’t happen. Let’s look at the time needed for each decision.
(1)You Decide What The Case Is Worth
What do you – and your attorney – need to decide what a case is worth? Most of the basic information on liability – whether the other insurance company has to pay – is available within a very short time.
But in 90% of all personal injury cases, the dispute is over damages. And before you decide what your case is worth, you have to know how bad you are hurt – what your damages are.
To know that, you have to either (a) completely heal, or (b)heal to the point where you know – and the doctor tells you – that you are not going to get any better, or (c) be satisfied that a jury will not give award you less than the available insurance limits on the case.
And you and your attorney have to decide the value based on all available medical and personal information available.
What does this mean? It means your attorney must request and review all your doctors and hospital’s records – after you have completed the treatment . He also needs to contact the doctor responsible for your care, and may need to ask him to write a letter stating whether the accident caused your injuries, and if they are permanent.
This has to be done before asking for money from the insurance company – otherwise, you may not ask for enough, and you don’t want to do that.
It also means requesting the records of your employer – something best done after you have returned from work.
As you can guess, this can take some time.
(2)The Insurance Company Decides
When does the insurance company decide what your case is worth? Sometimes, when you give it all the information you have obtained.
But a lot of the time, they want more. They might want more medical records. Or employment or worker’s compensation records.
Some times they want to be able to do things under the power of the court, like issuing a subpoena for your records, or hiring a doctor to examine you and report to them. This means not making a reasonable – or any – offer, so you have to file suit to get your money.
And once they have everything they want, they want to see what you will take, rather than offering what your case is worth. They know that every time you turn down an offer, your consequences are (a) delay (b) not knowing if or when they will respond to you and (3)the possibility that you will do worse at trial.
So they may not decide what your case is worth, until:
(3) The Case Comes To Trial
This is usually at least a year after the lawsuit is filed with the clerk, although it can be a little faster – or slower – in some small counties.
Why so long? The court has other cases – including criminal cases – that are waiting for trial. And each side has the right to learn about the other’s case. Each lawyer sends the other side a series of questions.
The other lawyer will want to take a sworn statement from you, and maybe have you examined by their doctor. He might want to file a motion to dismiss the case. And the court likes to see if the case can be mediated.
Why wouldn’t you want to file the suit with the clerk right away – the day after the accident – so you will be ready to try the case as soon as you know what it’s worth? Because a lot of the time, things get done faster if you don’t have to talk to the insurance company through its attorneys.
And once you file suit, you can only talk to the insurance company through the attorneys.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I am dedicated to doing everything I can to get my clients all the money they deserve, as soon as I can get it for them. I have other ideas on how to get you your money fast. If you want to know how much your case can settle for and when, speak with an experienced Accident Attorney in Cincinnati – call me at 513-621-4775 in Cincinnati.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.