Often times, a client asks us “how long it will take to resolve my personal injury case?” They also want to know if a trial is necessary. Of course, every situation is different, but there are some universal truths.
First, never accept an offer of settlement from a personal injury claim if you do not have an attorney or if you have yet not spoken to an attorney. In many cases, if you have a claim against an insurance company, a trucking company or a corporation, they may offer a settlement early on. This may seem like they are concerned for your welfare. Don’t be fooled—even if they offer what seems like a lot of money, they are trying to get rid of you. The greater the amount of money they offer, the more likely it is that your claim is worth much more.
Second, understand that the discovery process (the exchanging of evidence) will take time. Besides general documents and questions to answer in writing (interrogatories), a medical examination may be necessary. There might be multiple medical expert witnesses. There might be an economist to figure out how much it will cost to properly reimburse you into the future as a result of the accident. All this takes time, but discovery is one of the most important parts of the case—it produces the evidence needed to prove the claims in court.
Third, procedural issues can come up in a personal injury case that are no one’s fault. The court has its own docket, which may be crowded. Therefore, it may be difficult for you to get a hearing or trial date as soon as you would like. Your attorney can and will object if the other side wishes to unreasonably push out the case, but some delays are inevitable and the court will allow them.
Finally, understand that settling a case early just to get it over with is likely not in a person’s best interest. The decision to settle a case or go to trial is always the client’s, but an attorney should offer legal advice as to the sufficiency of the offer. An injured person only gets once chance to hold the responsible party accountable—it is not something that one should take lightly.
Galloway Jefcoat, LPP is a Louisiana personal injury law firm that fights for victims of car crashes, workplace accidents, and other forms of negligence or injury. At our firm, we prepare every personal injury case from trial from the very beginning. This lets the other side know we are serious and if an offer is not made to fully compensate our client, we will take the case to a jury.