Being a personal injury attorney in Suffolk and Nassau County, Long Island for over 20 years very often do I get asked…
I wish I had a simple cookie cutter answer, but there isn’t one. Every case is different and some many things factor in that extend or speed up the process. There are many reasons why some cases are resolved quickly, while others drag on for years.
Some of the reasons are literally hidden from you. Tricks by insurance companies or defendants to make you settle for less is nothing new – and we feel you deserve to know them.
All medical documentation should be considered before being resolved. So if the person is still receiving treatment, the case will not yet be settled. This is important because pain and suffering and mental anguish are contributing factors for money that a person is entitled to receive for their personal injury, and waiting until treatment is completed means the best accurate compensation.
Settling a case before someone is physically better can be risky because healing from an injury is unpredictable. Sometimes there are setbacks, complications or even unexpected surgery. If a case settles, all the pains, physical and emotional, from the injury are documented. And likely, the plaintiff will end up being short-changed as respects to the amount of money they actually need for all of the pain, suffering and mental anguish.
Unfortunately, some injuries will never recover completely. But this doesn’t mean the case will never end. In these instances, it’s important that the person reaches maximum medical recovery before the case is settled. Often times an expert is needed to determine the extent of pain and suffering in the future as well as the costs of the medical treatment that goes along with it. They may also determine future lost wages when the personal injury is permanent.
It’s always a good idea for the victim’s lawyer to use the time wisely by building the case. This is where accident investigation, gathering of witness statements and consultation with experts should coincide with the recovery of the injured party. Capitalizing on this time will reduce delays and speed up the process of the case.
The defense also plays a key role in the resolution of any case, and this is another reason why a case might be delayed. The defendant might be unwilling to discuss a settlement, and this can cause a serious delay in resolution. This can happen for two reasons:
When the insurance company is delaying settlement, this often results in “protracted litigation”. Protracted litigation is when a case has to now make its way through the court system, possibly all the way to a trial date. As you may have guessed, this is both costly and time consuming. However, having a skilled personal injury attorney can reduce that delay time using aggressive litigation tactics such as a motion for proactive order and/or a motion for a summary judgement, halting endless discovery demands from defense counsel.
There are however, multiple stages during litigation that have to happen before the case can be tried.
Now, that protracted litigation is completed, the case is scheduled for a trial. Once again, this is a time consuming process and it can take several months for the trial to begin since the court system is typically backed up with cases. Scheduling a trial date is especially tricky when there’s many witnesses that need to be coordinated.
For the trial itself, it’s best if possible that the plaintiff allow the case to run it’s course without any time constraints or pressure. The attorney wants to get the most amount of money for it’s clients in the least possible amount of time. The optimal result however, can be effectively achieved with patience of the client.
As someone who has been representing clients for 20 years, my focus is to take the stress out of the equation for the injured parties. At Palermo Law, we deal with all of the unnecessary legal paperwork and insurance forms so that our clients can focus on their recovery and get their compensation as fast possible.
If you have a personal injury claim against another individual or entity, your personal injury attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement winning their insurer over the phone. If it’s obvious that you weren’t at fault for your injuries and that you are actively pursuing treatment, insurance companies may agree to a fair settlement that covers your injury-related expenses.
It’s also important to note that a trial is expensive. Place your trust in your personal injury attorney. They’ll have a well-defined idea of how your case may play out in trial. If they feel you may end up with less compensation by taking your case to trial, and that the settlement the insurance company is offering you is fair, they may suggest you take that settlement.
Mediation and arbitration, two forms of Alternative Dispute Resolutions, are becoming extremely popular alternatives to trial as well. It’s a much less expensive and less time-consuming process than a trial. A mediator will try to help facilitate an agreement on a settlement. However, decisions made in mediation are not binding. If an individual feels that the decision made in their mediation is not fair, they can still choose to seek further compensation through an alternative route, such as a trial. Arbitration is very similar to mediation. However, in an arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision on settlement is binding, the case is settled, and can no longer be taken to trial even if one or both parties feel the decision is unfair.
There may be a stigma that all personal injury cases will end up in trial. You may have a solid personal injury case and envisage having to continually be in court where a jury will determine the fate of your case over a potentially extended period. But this isn’t always true. Not all cases require trial. A majority of cases are settled through negotiations, mediation or arbitration. It’s also important to note that there’s no one particular type of case that ends up in trial. Many factors can play into whether or not your case ends up in trial.
There are times when you and your attorney disagree with the percentage of liability. The defendant’s insurer may claim that you are 60% liable for your injuries when you and your attorney feel strongly that you are only 20% liable and therefore entitled to more compensation for your losses. If an agreement cannot be made on liability, your case may require a trial.
Sometimes an insurance company will argue that an injury is not related to your accident. Say, for example, your personal injury claim is regarding a back injury from a car accident. However, you’ve had problems with your back in the past. An insurance company may deny any payout, claiming that your back injury was not connected to or exacerbated by your accident and therefore.
There are also instances in which you agree on liability, but the insurance company refuses to pay out the settlement you and your personal injury attorney are seeking for your losses.
In these scenarios, your case may require a trial in order for you to receive the full compensation you are entitled to. At Palermo Law, we go the distance for our clients, whether or not their case requires a trial. It’s important you listen and trust your personal injury attorney on the matter of whether or not you should consider taking your personal injury case into trial.