Many people who contact a lawyer want to know how long it will take to get a settlement. Like most things in the law, the answer is “it depends.” However, we can give you some guidelines.
First, let’s talk about when a case won’t settle.
In most cases, we will not settle your case while you are actively receiving medical care for your injuries. The reason is simple—when you settle your case, that’s the absolute end. You cannot come back five or ten or fifteen years later because you still have injuries and want more money. For this reason, it’s important that you be finished with treatment so we can include all of your injuries and medical expenses in your settlement. The exception to this is where you have a permanent injury—if a doctor says you are at maximum medical improvement, it means you are not expected to get any better. You might keep going for treatment (medication, pain injections, physical maintenance), but those things are expected to continue indefinitely.
The first step to proving a case is liability—the majority of cases won’t settle unless the negligent driver (or his/her insurance company) admit that the driver was negligent. Sure, we sometimes get settlement offers when there is a liability denial, but that only happens in situations where the other side realizes that we may have a decent chance of proving liability. Even those cases may not settle, though, because the other side will “discount” their offer based on their expectation that they might be able to win on liability.
The cases that do settle will either settle before a lawsuit is filed, or after a lawsuit is filed. The majority of cases settle before, and litigation is not necessary.
Once you finish medical treatment (or when your doctors say you are at maximum medical improvement), we will collect all of your final medical records and bills. That process usually takes between one and two months. When those records come in, we review them, do a summary demand letter and send them off to the insurance adjuster. Usually within about one to two months, the insurance adjuster will review those documents, will let us know if they are interested in settling, and how much money they want to put on your legal claim.
This begins the process of negotiation. We will talk with you about their offer, and with your approval, will give a counter-demand. This phase of negotiation typically goes fairly quickly—in some cases, it might take a couple of days, or a few weeks. The larger the claim, the more time-consuming negotiation might be. For most cases, settlement will be accomplished within about three to six months after you finish medical treatment.
It is only when the other side denies liability, they refuse to offer what your case is worth, or negotiations move too slowly that we may recommend to you that we file a lawsuit.
If you have questions about the settlement process, contact our attorneys at 1-541-617-0555, or fill out our internet Contact form on the right side of the page. We can answer all of your questions about how long it takes, the value of your case, and what to expect from a lawsuit.