If I only had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked that question….
The honest answer is: “It depends.”
Sorry, but that is the best answer any injury lawyer can give you. I am NOT trying to evade the question or be flip, but I have learned over my 25 years of representing injury victims that there is no easy answer to this question. The answer ALWAYS depends on the unique facts of each case.
I have settled some cases within a month of the accident; I’ve had other accident cases that have taken many years to finally reach the courtroom.
How long your case may take depends on a wide range of factors.
It depends on…
… how long you are actively treating for your injuries because most often it is NOT a good idea to try to settle your claim until you are done treating. Responsible lawyers are quick to remind their clients that they only get one chance—one bite at the apple—to settle their case so they need to be very sure of the permanent consequences of any injury before even discussing the settlement value of your case.
… the nature of your injuries. Some injuries heal quickly so very early on you are able to tell what might be the lasting consequences of your injury. Other injuries take a long time to heal or in some cases, never heal. Those cases usually take longer.
… how the accident occurred. Is the fault of the other driver clear and convincing or is there some significant argument about who was responsible for causing the accident? The more complicated the liability question, the longer the case is likely to take.
… the insurance carrier who insures the other driver. Some carriers have a reputation for quickly evaluating claims and making reasonable settlement offers. Other carriers are known for taking forever and never settling a case before trial.
… the amount of the insurance coverage. Often, the more money that may is at stake, the longer the case might take.
The key thing about how long your case should take is that you want it to take as long as it needs to take to get maximum value for your case.
You do NOT want to rush your case, thereby settling for less than it is worth. Likewise, you do NOT want your case to drag on any longer than it needs to take.
I like to say to my clients, “I don’t get paid until you get paid – so rest assured that I am NOT going to let your case drag on any longer than it needs to take!”
James B. Reed, Esq.
NY & PA Personal Injury Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
E-mail me at FreeReports@zifflaw.com for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know