How Long Does It Take to Negotiate an Injury Settlement in Colorado?
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Accidents are often traumatic experiences and can also be confusing for victims seeking compensation for their injuries. While the process of pursuing any compensation you may be entitled to may often be difficult, protracted, and contentious, many of these cases are settled before you ever have to go to court. As a result, the negotiation process is often crucial and must be handled with skill and knowledge.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call the Colorado personal injury attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (512) 246-2224 for a free consultation. If we cannot reach a favorable result in your case, you will not owe us anything.
Every settlement is generally unique from victim to victim. A settlement may be reached as quickly as two weeks and before having to file a lawsuit. However, other settlements may take up to a couple of years, especially when your injuries are more severe, more extensive treatment may be necessary to help you recover from your injuries, or if liability may be less clear. By beginning the process of filing a claim with the insurance company soon after your accident, you may start this settlement process.
The length of the process will also depend upon the time it takes to complete each stage. For instance, your attorney may conduct discovery before beginning serious negotiations with the insurance companies to gather evidence proving your injuries and costs of treatment as well as evidence from the other party to help prove their liability for your injuries and damages. This 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.
The 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 offer that is insufficient and is much lower than the compensation you may be entitled to. However, the insurance company is attempting to benefit from victims' impatience in seeking compensation for their injuries.
Fortunately, you are not bound to accept this initial settlement offer. Instead, you have the opportunity to negotiate with the insurer for a higher settlement as you pursue compensation for your injuries. You can follow the insurance company’s initial offer with counteroffers to seek compensation that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. If you have been injured in an accident, you should familiarize yourself with the negotiation process.
The negotiation process to obtain a settlement in your personal injury claim may often be a very complicated and complex process, especially if you are not represented by an experienced attorney who may be able to help you navigate this process.
The first step in the negotiation process is often to send a demand letter to the other party or insurer. This demand letter generally may explain the extent of your injuries, 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, as well as by disputing the liability of its insured. Using these arguments to discredit your demand, the insurance company may then respond with a much lower counteroffer. This initial counteroffer is often much lower than the amount you may actually be entitled to.
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. You should gather as much evidence as possible detailing these injuries, your medical expenses, and any anticipated future treatment. Include all of your medical bills, proof of any payments, as well as any evidence of lost income such as pay stubs.
Additionally, you should also collect as much proof as possible to prove how the responsible party breached the duty to exercise reasonable care by causing the accident. The more extensive your evidence concerning your injuries and the other party’s liability, the more likely the insurance company may settle your claim for an amount closer to your original demand. Finally, you should make sure to 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
Finally, 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.
Statute of Limitations
Throughout the negotiation process, you should stay mindful of Colorado’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This statute of limitations acts a time limit during which you can file a lawsuit seeking compensation. In Colorado, you generally have three years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit.
The Attorneys at Zinda Law Group May Negotiate on Your Behalf
Why You Need a Lawyer
The negotiation process in a personal injury lawsuit is often complex and confusing. The insurance company will try to take advantage of you so that it can pay as little as possible. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers who are dedicated to keeping the insurer’s costs down by not paying you the compensation you may be entitled to. While you may be able to pursue compensation on your own, this process can often be difficult to accomplish without a legal background or experience in dealing with insurance companies. However, an attorney may be able to help level the field for you and help you navigate this process by negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf to maximize your compensation.
How a Lawyer May Help You Pursue Compensation
A lawyer may help you identify and gather all relevant evidence, including all medical bills, needed to strengthen your case for compensation when negotiating with the insurance adjuster or lawyers. Your lawyer’s additional resources may make this evidence-gathering process easier as well as more thorough. Your attorney may also determine how this evidence may be developed, recorded, and preserved while you build your case. In doing so, your attorney may thoroughly document your injuries and losses using this evidence so that insurance adjusters may be unable to deny your claim.
Your lawyer may use persuasive tactics and arguments to pursue additional compensation during the negotiation process. An experienced attorney may have significant experience negotiating with insurance companies and be able to help you avoid potential pitfalls and attempts by insurers to reduce your compensation. Finally, an insurer may often increase their offers when a lawyer is involved in an effort to avoid going to trial.
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At Zinda Law Group, our Colorado personal injury attorneys are here to assist you with your claim. We help our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to as a victim of an accident.
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