Clients often ask me how long their case will take to settle or go to court. It really depends, but generally a personal injury case will last at least a year. In the early stages the law firm gathers information like a crash report, damage reports, witness information, insurance policies, and medical records. This process usually takes a few months just to gather the information needed to determine if a claim exists. After the investigation takes place there is typically a period where the client is treating for injuries sustained in the accident, this part takes time and is one of the most vital parts of the claim. The medical records from this period of time determine the extent of damages for the client. Treatment can last from a couple of months to a couple of years to determine the clients true injuries.
Once the investigation is over and the doctor has concluded the client has reached maximum medical improvement a demand letter is then sent to the insurance company to settle the suit. A demand letter is a letter which includes all the necessary information for an insurance adjuster to properly evaluate a claim and offer a settlement of damages to the client. By statute the insurance company has 30 days to respond. This is a required step before litigation and most cases end at this point or soon after. So most cases generally will last about a year if no suit is ever filed. If no settlement can be reached at the demand letter stage a law suit is then filed. Once this occurs the case can last for two or more years.
While some of the quickest cases settle in just a few months many will last well over a year. Depending on the clients needs I will implement different strategies to set the pace of each case. Many factors go into this strategy such as the clients injuries, the clients need for money, and the insurance policy limits. So to sum up the question of how long a personal injury case will last, it really depends and each client is different, but generally you can expect the case to last at least a year if a suit is never filed.
Christian L. Pipas, Esq.