Every personal injury case is unique, and at the same time, many are very similar. Some personal injury cases take much longer than others. Some factors that determine the length are the specific type of personal injury case, the number of parties, and the extent of the injuries. The timing of an auto injury case can be much less than a complex multiparty lawsuit.
This article gives you an idea of the process and how long a personal injury case may take from start to finish.
Personal Injury Timeline in Texas
The Medical Treatment- Day 1 to Release of Treatment.
The earlier an accident victim seeks medical attention, the better their recovery and personal injury claim. While it is not always possible to obtain quick appointments with doctors, the longer you delay, the more likely the insurance company will want to contest all or part of your treatment.
Getting the necessary treatment for your injuries in an accident is an important first step. Also, following your physician’s directives regarding your recovery is critically important to the case and, more importantly, your recovery.
Insurance companies are usually always critical about some part of a person’s medical treatment, particularly when there is adequate insurance coverage.
Gaps in Treatment Hurt and Delay Your Case
Gaps in treatment, long delays in seeing a doctor, or injuries first diagnosed much later after the accident all raise red flags with the adjuster. The argument on delay in treatment being, if it was so bad, why was treatment not immediate? Of course, each victim has their justification for delays in treatment. However, the insurance companies have found the preceding argument fairly successful in convincing jurors regardless of the explanation offered by the victim.
Documenting Takes Time
Documenting your injury or recovery with video or photographs is always a good idea. For instance, if you require a cast, a photograph or video of the cast and the problems it caused you in day-to-day life can be compelling evidence in a personal injury trial.
Settlement Discussions Happen after You Are Released
Except in the most extreme cases where medical will be ongoing for life, most settlement discussions occur after the accident victim has reached maximum medical improvement. There are exceptions, and the statute limitations must be considered regarding when a lawsuit should be filed.
In some instances, litigation is filed fairly early on for strategic reasons. An example would be when an auto accident attorney believes the adjuster is not trying to settle the case pre-litigation.
Different Types of Cases Can Have Different Timelines
Simple car accidents involving two vehicles with clear liability usually involve discussions quickly after medical records are submitted to the adjuster. Other cases can take longer because commercial policies are involved or liability is disputed. For instance, an accident at a construction site may involve many potential defendants.
Steps to Speed Up Your Case
As Soon as Possible- Hire the Best Attorney
There is no doubt that who you choose to represent you can greatly impact not only reducing your frustrations in the claims handling process but also the results achieved.
Not to say that families need to run out on day one and hire an attorney, but the sooner you retain competent counsel, generally do better for your case. We recommend that accident victims spend some due diligence time researching the accident attorneys they are considering for the case near me. The more serious the injury, the more you should research the attorney you are considering.
Important Factors in Choosing an Attorney
Some factors that have proven important over the years and selecting an attorney are:
- Who will work on your file? Will a partner outsource work to a less experienced associate or handle it personally? This is a huge factor in many very serious cases. Hire a lawyer to work on your case, not just “supervise” it.
- Has the lawyer ever been sued for malpractice? If so, this may not be the right choice for you. The results of this search can also tell you where the priority is for the attorney – is it his client’s interests or his own?
- What do former clients have to say? Reading reviews or being referred by a former client is generally good information.
- What are their results with this type of case? Select a lawyer with a record of winning your kind of case.
Talking with Adjusters- 1 Week to the End of Treatment.
An insurance adjuster will contact most personal injury victims within a few days after an accident. The more serious the accident, the more likely it is then an adjuster would contact you. With minor accidents, the adjuster may still contact you wanting information from you relative to the claim.
One of the first things an adjuster would seek would be a recorded statement from you regarding your injuries and the accident. It is important to note that the statement is not so much to learn about the case as it is to be able to defend the case. A recent Texas case held a recorded statement with verbal acceptance of an offer of settlement was binding.
Many of Houston’s best personal injury attorneys advise against giving a recorded statement. Remember that an adjuster is not on your side, particularly for a negligent third party. Their job is to pay as little as possible on any specific case. The more serious the injury, the more likely the adjuster would be friendly to you with the hope you don’t hire a lawyer! Here are the top 10 adjuster tricks for car accident victims.
Early Settlements Rarely Benefit the Victim
Some companies contact accident victims right away in an attempt to secure an early settlement. They use techniques such as “estimating” future medical but require a full release which would bar you from coming back for additional payments if the medical exceeds the estimate.
Settling the case while you’re still being treated or worse, don’t know the full diagnosis is a mistake. The attorney will handle all settlement negotiations and communications with the insurance company for those who hire an attorney.
Settlement Discussions – After Maximum Medical Improvement
Settlement discussions generally occur after the accident victim has been released for medical treatment or obtained maximum medical improvement. After that, the attorney will gather the medical records, which can take 2 to 3 months depending on the extent of the injury and the number of medical providers.
Releasing medical records to your attorney takes way more time than one would think. Medical record processing is not a revenue generator for the medical provider and is often ignored by the physician’s office. Often it takes numerous contacts from the attorney’s office to obtain action on the medical records.
Once the insurance company has all the relevant medical records, their review can take approximately two weeks to one month, and some companies take longer. People without an attorney find dealing with an insurance adjuster largely frustrating.
Settlement discussions generally occur after that period. Many insurance companies have developed “lowball” strategies and other tactics that can drag out settlement discussions and often lead to filing a lawsuit.
Once a Lawsuit is Filed-
Except in cases of strategic interest, most personal injury attorneys wait until the victim has substantially treated their injuries with physicians. Filing a lawsuit too early can lead to the victim getting jammed on medical testimony when they are still actively treated. Nevertheless, there are instances where strategically filing a suit early is the right thing to do.
A lawsuit can take a month or two for the defendant to be served; after that, the defendant has a certain number of days to file an answer or respond to the lawsuit.
Then written discovery generally is exchanged between the plaintiff and the defendants. The next step will be depositions of the parties to the lawsuit, any witnesses, experts, and treating physicians.
In Harris County, the time between the lawsuit filing and the case’s actual trial can vary greatly depending on the court. Generally, obtaining an actual jury trial before two years is hard to get (except in small expedited cases); Harris County courts have pretty significant dockets, and obtaining a trial setting does not necessarily being you will get to go during that time.
The trial of the case can take from a day or two to several weeks or even months, depending on the case’s complexity, the number of parties, the damages, and the evidence required to be presented.
Get Help From a Personal Injury Attorney
Getting the right attorneys for your case – call the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no-obligation consultation about your specific case. We have been helping accident victims in Houston for over 30 years and have an incredible track record of success.
Our law firm is also preeminent rated and has been for decades. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Baumgartner Law Firm today for a free case consultation regarding your rights and options at (281) 587-1111.