The Timeline of a Car Accident Lawsuit
When it comes to car accident lawsuits and other types of personal injury cases, there is a general order that the legal process will follow. Each of the stages of your case can vary in the amount of time that they take, depending on the facts of your case.
If you have been injured in a car accident, the first step to take is to seek out medical treatment. Having your injuries diagnosed and treated after your accident is the best way to make sure that there is a record of your injuries and medical expenses. After you have received medical treatment for your injuries, the next action you should take is to contact a personal injury attorney.
Even if you are unsure whether or not you have an actual case, personal injury attorneys offer free consultations so you lose nothing by speaking with one. Once you have received medical treatment and chosen a qualified car accident lawyer, the work really begins. In order for you to get a settlement that is fair to you, your attorney needs to follow a process to establish your case and prove that you are owed compensation.
This process starts with your attorney investigating the accident and reviewing your medical records. Once they have reviewed the case and medical records, your attorney will come up with a demand letter to send to the insurance company that lays out what your expenses have been and how much compensation you want because of the ordeal.
The demand letter is then reviewed by the insurance company which opens up negotiations with the hope of settling the case without the need for going to trial. If negotiations are unsuccessful, your attorney will file a lawsuit and begin the Discovery process. The discovery process is the time between filing the lawsuit and actually going to court.
During this process, both attorneys will continue investigating the facts of the case to prepare their cases. Once the discovery process is completed, another round of mediation and negotiation will take place. If a settlement is again unable to be reached, the case will go to trial. Fortunately, most personal injury cases are settled out of court, leading to a faster time of financial recovery.
However, if your case does go to trial, expect a long extension before you will receive your settlement. Even though many people do not enjoy the process of going to trial, when it happens it is usually to the benefit of the victim. Depending on the details of your case, it could be settled very early on or end up needing to go to trial. What determines the length of your case is a combination of circumstances.
What Factors Will Determine the Length of My Car Accident Case?
As we have discussed, every case is different and thus it is difficult to predict exactly how long your case will take.
The different factors that will determine how long your case will take include:
- Factual or Legal Difficulties in your case
- The potential monetary value of the case
- The length of time for the Victim's Medical Recovery
Depending on the details in each of these areas, your case may be extended over a long period of time.
Factual or Legal Difficulties in Your Car Accident Case
In order to win your car accident case, your lawyer must be able to show that the defendant acted negligently, and is liable for the damages that were caused. Proving fault or liability in a car accident case is not always cut and dry. If the insurance company thinks that the victim's attorneys will have a difficult time proving fault, they may opt to not offer an acceptable settlement and let the case drag on.
Another factor that may cause your case to take more time is the amount of damages that were caused by the accident. Your attorney has the responsibility of proving your injuries were a direct result of the accident. Until they are able to do this through doctor's testimony or medical records, the insurance company is unlikely to include them in a settlement offer. The faster that your attorney is able to prove fault and damages, the faster your car accident case will be settled.
This is why seeking medical attention as soon as you can and keeping accurate medical records are so crucial to the success of your case.
The Potential Monetary Value of the Case
In cases that involve a potentially large settlement, the length of time it will take to settle them increases drastically. The reason for this is that the insurance company will not want to have to pay out a substantial settlement amount, and thus take longer investigating every aspect of the case.
When the insurance company is investigating the case, they will focus on a few different details to try and decrease the amount of money the plaintiff is entitled to. This includes:
- Attacking the victim's credibility
- Attempting to show that the injuries were not caused by the accident/were pre-existing.
- Determining overall how strong the plaintiffs case is.
They also use the tactic of slowing down the case in the hope of encouraging the victim to take a smaller settlement offer just to get it over with. Once the insurance company has concluded their investigation, they will decide on what they think is a fair offer and try to settle out of court.
The Length of Time it Takes for the Victim to Recover
When someone is injured in a car accident and wants to receive compensation for their injuries, the parties must be able to determine the total cost due to the injuries. Determining how much of a settlement is owed before the victim has fully recovered is difficult to do. This leaves your attorney and the insurance company guessing on the monetary value of future expenses and risks related to the accident. This is why the settlement is usually only offered after the victim has fully recovered from their injuries.
Once they have fully recovered, there is an accurate medical record that shows the extent of injuries and the cost of treatments that have been incurred. The record will also show how serious the injuries are, and if any of them will have effects long into the victim's future. Determining all of these factors can take various amounts of time and depends on the details of each individual case.
Contact the Car Accident Attorneys at The Roth Firm, LLC Today
Contacting an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident is the best way for you to speed up the process of receiving your settlement.
The Roth Firm, LLC has years of experience winning car accident settlements for clients in Georgia and Tennessee. Our team of car accident attorneys can focus on getting the maximum amount of financial recovery after your accident, while you focus on recovering physically.