How Long Does It Take to Settle a New Jersey Injury Case?
Those injured in personal injury claims often have one primary question: How long is this going to take? As with many legal questions, the answer is: it depends.
Personal injury claims include motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls, work-related injuries, and even criminal acts such, as assaults. These claims may involve a single plaintiff (the person injured in the claim) and a single defendant (the person or entity alleged to be at fault for the injury). Or, several plaintiffs and defendants may be involved. Liability may seem straightforward, or it may be more complex. Some claims may settle in a few months, whereas others may take years. What is the difference?
Settlements may be reached with the insurance company without filing a formal lawsuit in a New Jersey court. However, the insurance company is generally going to lowball an offer that may not cover all of the damages the plaintiff has suffered. If the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer, or rejects an offer the plaintiff has made, it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. Drafting the necessary paperwork and serving the insurance company may take a couple of weeks; the insurance company then has 35 days to respond to the lawsuit—therefore, another month may have passed by the time the insurance company responds to the suit.
To settle an injury case, each party must have enough information to determine whether the settlement is in that party’s best interests. For example, it would make no sense for a plaintiff to settle a claim before receiving all of his medical treatment and bills for his injuries. Otherwise, the plaintiff may settle for far too little. It may also take several months for the plaintiff to complete medical treatment. Further, obtaining medical records, video surveillance footage, photographs, witness statements, police reports, and other types of evidence takes time. Therefore, waiting on all of these documents can delay settlement discussions for several weeks or months.
Additionally, the attitude of the parties is a major factor in settling a case. One party may be ready to settle the case and move on, whereas another party has demanded “his day in court” and wants to go to trial no matter what—even if it means he may lose. Stubborn parties who refuse reasonable settlement offers often cause serious delays in personal injury cases.
With multiple parties, settlement negotiations generally take longer. For example, consider a multicar accident. Perhaps the defendant was texting and driving, and hit another car. The other car swerved and hit a bicyclist—but the bicyclist was not following traffic laws. In such cases where the parties may at least be partially responsible for their own injuries, settlement negotiations may take longer as the parties go back and forth on the numbers.
To make sure you do your part in moving settlement negotiations along, respond to your attorney in a timely manner whenever your attorney calls or emails you with questions or settlement proposals. You can help your attorney obtain the documents he needs, such as medical records, photographs, and the names of witnesses. Keep an open mind during settlement negotiations and remember to take your attorney’s legal advice seriously. Your attorney has your best interests in mind and works hard to ensure you receive the best results possible.
If you were injured, contact Leonard Legal Group today
At Leonard Legal Group, our attorneys are both experienced trial attorneys and skilled negotiators. We are prepared to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf, and, if necessary, we fight for you in court. If you were injured due to the negligence of another person, contact us today to schedule your free consultation with our team. Call our 24-hour call center at 973-984-1414 or contact us online.