When you are injured, the last thing you want to worry about is financial insecurity. As personal injury attorneys, we do our best to move your case along as efficiently and effectively as possible, but sometimes it takes time.
There are six main factors that play into how long it can take to resolve a personal injury case.
Your injuries have a longer recovery time
If you still have not recovered from your injuries, or reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), you should not settle your case. This is because after you reach MMI, which means you have recovered as much as you possibly can from your injuries, your attorney can accurately assess the entire scope and long-term consequences of those injuries.
In other words, if your injuries require ongoing care, it’s going to take longer to determine how much compensation you will need to pay for your medical care, and how much wages you will lose.
Your injuries are catastrophic and high-value
Catastrophic injuries are the kind that may never heal, or will leave you partially or permanently disabled for the rest of your life. These are often high-value claims, because permanent care, the inability to work, and chronic pain demand greater compensation than, say, a broken leg which heals.
In high-value claims, the insurance company may decide to launch a separate investigation, which can also take a great amount of time. Because not everyone recovers from the same injuries in the same way, taking the time to wait ensures you are properly and fully compensated for your losses.
The insurance company is dragging its feet
You do not have to be a legal expert to know that insurance companies can present challenges to personal injury claims. Their business model is to pay out the lowest amount possible, and one of the ways they do this is to attempt to slow down or draw out the claims process as long as they can. They may dispute liability or the amount of damages, try to bill a different insurance company, or do whatever it takes.
Because serious injuries can instantly put the average person into a precarious financial situation, victims start to feel hopeless and wonder if they should just settle and get it over with. This is when the insurance companies swoop in with a lowball payment, taking advantage of that fear.
One of the benefits of having an injury attorney on your side is that an attorney can help cut through this red tape and ensure that your settlement offer is just. If the insurance company is purposely acting in bad faith, there are other legal avenues to pursue.
The other party is arguing that you’re at fault
It is almost certain the defendant’s insurance company will fight to argue that you were the one responsible for your injuries. They know by shifting liability over to you, they may not have to pay out a penny. Because Tennessee is a comparative negligence state, the amount of compensation you are paid can decrease if you are found partially responsible for your own injuries. If you are found 50% responsible or more, you can be denied compensation altogether.
It is in the defendant’s insurance company’s best interest to argue about liability, in the hopes of decreasing the amount of compensation they may have to pay out.
You went to trial
Litigation usually takes longer than settlement negotiations because jury trials are complicated. At trial, not only does your attorney and the defense attorney have to actively choose a jury, but both sides will also need to call witnesses and experts to testify. Preparing a case for trial and actually trying it can take a while, especially if there is any doubt regarding liability.
The system itself
In the best of times, the civil justice system lumbers along; the pandemic has made it worse. With courts in varying stages of shutdown, all non-emergency filings were pushed to the side. For many injury victims, that included their cases, even though their bills never stopped coming, and their financial stresses never eased. Even now as the courts reopen, they face an unprecedented backlog of cases which can easily delay yours whether you’re going to trial or negotiating a settlement. By working with an attorney, however, you put your case in the best possible position to move forward.
In fact, because of the excellent processes in place at the firm to help expedite cases to trial, Rocky McElhaney Law Firm was back in action with the very first case on the docket on the first day the courts opened back up post-pandemic to try civil cases in Nashville- Davidson County.
Is there anything I can do to speed up the process?
A lot of your case’s progression relies on outside forces, like the availability of the judge or the length of time of your treatment. But there are some things you can do to help streamline the process, in order to help move it along:
- Show up on time to any meetings (in-person or virtual) with your attorney, as well as with the Court.
- Make sure to send whatever documentation your attorney needs (like medical records or papers from your job) as soon as it’s requested and let the law firm know if anything has changed, like a prescription or a new potential surgery.
- Be honest with your attorney from day one, no matter what happened.
- Ask for clear instructions if you don’t know what your lawyer needs you to do (and download your free copy of Rocky’s book, for some helpful tips).
At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we understand that your family’s safety and security can’t wait after you have been critically injured. We always fight to get you the best possible outcome as quickly as we can, without sacrificing your interests. When you need a fighter on your side, we’re ready to answer the call: 615-425-2500, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our team operates offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville to better serve you.