How Long Does It Take to Negotiate an Injury Settlement?Last updated on: September 20, 2022
When it comes to an injury settlement, each case is unique. It’s important to first understand your circumstances when trying to gauge when you’ll reach a settlement.
A less serious injury, but one that still requires compensation, might take only a few months to settle if all parties are responsible in filing evidence and meeting on-time.
However, other settlements may take a couple of years, especially when your injuries are more severe. More extensive treatment may be necessary to help you recover from your injuries, leading to more evidence being filed and a longer case time. By beginning the process of filing a claim with the insurance company soon after your accident, you can start the settlement process off on the right foot.
The length of the process will also depend upon the time it takes to complete each stage. The discovery process may often take one to three months, or even longer in more complicated cases.
Next, the actual settlement process of negotiating with the insurer may also take anywhere from a week or two up to a few months. If a settlement is reached, it may take between four to six weeks to finish the process while you sign a release, and compensation is disbursed to your attorney.
Finally, if you are unable to reach a settlement, your case may have to go to trial, which typically takes a day or two up to about two weeks. Thus, the overall process of pursuing compensation may be as short as two weeks or as long as two years.
Read below to get an idea of what factors will help speed up or slow down your settlement.
What’s The Injury Settlement Negotiation Process?
Many personal injury lawsuits are settled before going to trial through an often lengthy and complicated negotiation process. During this process, the other party, generally an insurer, will do everything possible to minimize the amount of money it pays you for your injuries.
These insurance companies will often try to exploit victims’ need for compensation by offering a quick and easy solution. The insurance company may offer a settlement that is insufficient and oftentimes lower than the compensation you may be entitled to. Fortunately, you are not bound to accept this initial settlement offer and can negotiate with the insurer for a higher settlement as you pursue compensation for your injuries.
The first step in the negotiation process is to send a demand letter to the other party or insurer. This demand letter generally may explain the extent of your injuries and the medical treatment you have received; as well as any anticipated future treatment and expenses, any lost income, loss of earning capacity, and any property damage such as the cost to repair or replace your damaged vehicle.
The demand letter may include a specific dollar amount for the compensation you may be entitled to. After sending this demand letter, the insurance adjuster or lawyer may attempt to undermine your claim by disputing the extent of your injuries, the amount of treatment necessary to treat your injuries, or even the claim of liability. Unfortunately, they may respond with a lower counteroffer. Which is another reason it’s good to procure an experienced attorney that can be prepared to negotiate properly.
To reach a settlement closer to your initial demand, you may need extensive proof detailing all of your injuries and definitively linking your injuries to the accident. Gather all of your medical bills, proof of any payments, and evidence of lost income such as pay stubs.
Additionally, collect information to prove how the responsible party breached the duty to exercise reasonable care by causing the accident. Finally, address any weaknesses in your evidence, such as if you waited to seek treatment, whether you stopped treatment, or similar weaknesses that may undermine your claim.
Negotiating With The Insurer
After you have sent a demand letter to the insurer and gathered the evidence and proof necessary to support your claim, you may begin negotiating with the insurance company to settle your claim. The insurer’s initial counteroffer is often far too low and is instead intended to see how desperate you may be for any compensation as well as how familiar you are with the negotiation process for personal injury claims.
If you reject this initial counteroffer, you may make a new counteroffer, slightly reducing your initial settlement demand, to show your willingness to compromise and move the process forward. After both sides make counteroffers and continue negotiating, the insurer may make a final settlement offer. If this final offer is still too low, you may have to file a lawsuit or take your already-filed lawsuit to trial.
Factors that Can Affect Your Negotiation Process
If it takes a while for you to realize the seriousness of your injury and medical expenses continue to pile on, it might take longer to calculate your damages. Visit your doctor as quickly as possible after the accident so that you can begin healing sooner.
The Facts Of Your Case
If your case is especially complicated and involves several parties, it might be harder to communicate with all of those parties and uncover all of the relevant information for negotiation.
Why Does The Negotiation Process Take So Long?
Sometimes negotiation takes far longer than it should. Insurance companies and the opposing lawyer might draw out the process to frustrate you and get you to settle for an amount that is far less than you deserve. Alternatively, the insurance companies and opposing attorney(s) might try to get you to slip and admit fault for an accident.
Do not fall for these tactics or become discouraged by the negotiation process. Consider hiring a lawyer to communicate on your behalf and help you pursue the maximum compensation amount.
How Can You Speed Up The Negotiations Process?
Familiarize Yourself with the Process
One way that you can speed up the path to settlement is to familiarize yourself with the negotiations process. Knowing what information you need to gather and provide in advance can significantly reduce the length of your negotiations.
Hiring an Attorney
Even if you have familiarized yourself with the negotiation process, nothing can compare to the real-world experience of a personal injury attorney. The attorney can efficiently handle all communication with the insurance company and the attorney for the opposing side. Additionally, the opposing party’s counsel will know you are serious and likely engage fewer stalling tactics that prevent timely settlement.
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