How Long Will It Take To Resolve My Personal Injury Case
The first question many of our clients ask us is how long it will take to resolve their personal injury case – and if there is any way to do it quickly. When someone is struggling with injuries, is held out from work, and is dealing with the onslaught of real-world stressors that accompany an accident, a quick resolution may seem like the best way to return life “to normal.” It’s important to know that, despite the urge to settle quickly, in most cases, a quick resolution is not the same as the best resolution.
There are a variety of steps that must be taken to assure that an injured client is set up for maximum potential recovery. We make it a point to diligently work through every aspect of a case and discover all of the facts and information that we need to best advocate on behalf of our clients.
The reality is that many of these steps, though potentially time-consuming, result in larger recoveries for our clients and more protection for their families. Each one of these steps is essential to assuring that no stone has gone unturned.
Below are a few examples of the steps we take to make sure that our clients are protected.
Medical Treatment Prevents Insurance Companies from Inventing Their Own Description of the Injuries
Insurance companies will often try to downplay injuries and limitations; therefore, the most important part of any case is getting the necessary treatment and documentation from treating physicians.
No matter what the injuries are, if they are not documented in the medical records, an insurance adjuster will ignore it to try and pay less than the fair amount. Well-documented treatment keeps an insurance company honest.
Additionally, no one knows the true picture of what these injuries will look like in the future until the doctors have formed a full and thorough opinion. This is why following doctor’s orders, continuing treatment and getting all necessary procedures and testing done is so critically important.
Because of this, we generally do not want to settle a case before treatment is finished. Prematurely doing so could mean missing details that would increase the value of the case. By getting this information we can make sure that we have a full picture of the past and future injuries and limitations.
All Medical Bills Must Be Gathered
Many of our clients have outstanding medical bills and liens with health insurance companies that must be paid. It is essential that we gather all of those bills from each treatment facility.
These bills are one of the most important aspects of our negotiations with the insurance company. If we were to try to rush through this process and skip steps a client could get bills for medical treatment with no way to pay. By going through all this before settlement, we can obtain all the necessary bills, write-offs, adjustments, and liens, and determine the full value a client is owed.
Factual Investigations Can Make a Case
Some people assume that resolving a personal injury claim is as simple as submitting claim documents to insurance companies and receiving a check. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Every claim requires the plaintiff to prove two things:
- that the defendant was legally at fault, and
- the defendant’s acts or omissions led to the plaintiff’s injuries.
In some cases, this is straightforward (e.g., when someone is rear-ended while stopped at a red light). In other cases, it can be far more complicated. For example, we commonly see situations where both drivers in a car crash claim that the other is at fault, or there is a dispute over who had the green light or the right of way. There may also be routine questions about the speed of vehicles in a car crash, the nature or condition of a property before a fall, or even the identity of the employer in a workplace accident.
A thorough investigation can mean the difference between proving a case – or not having one at all. Thus, the information we gather (e.g., obtaining police reports, subpoenaing crash photos and witness statements, going to local businesses and requesting video of the crash or the incident, tracking down property records and deeds, determining corporate relationships between potential property owners, etc.) is used to combat the insurance arguments while providing the support we need to try to prove our case. Shortcutting any of these steps could cause vital information to be missed and negate potential arguments.
Identifying All Insurance Policies is Critical
It often surprises people how complicated insurance policies and regulations actually are. In fact, so many clients have questions about their insurance policies, we recently wrote a book entitled “What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania” to try and help people in the community protect themselves before a crash occurs.
What most people do not realize is the vast extent of potential policies that can exist. Every one of those policies may be another source of money to make our clients whole.
This may be in the form of auto health insurance or liability policy covering the at-fault party. Often, it is looking to underinsured or uninsured motorist policies to see if there are any extra levels of coverage that can step in when there is insufficient insurance.
Additionally, there are many other layers to look at, such as homeowners’ policies, umbrella policies, household policies, short term disability, long term disability, funeral, rental policies and lost wage policies, just to name a few. Tracking down and analyzing a variety of policies is time-consuming, but it must be done to make sure our clients are protected.
It’s All About Maximizing the Result
Every step that we take to investigate a client’s case is aimed at one goal: getting the client the best result possible. Doing it right takes time. By putting the time and effort into the investigation and preparation we can maximize the recovery. Though the process can take longer than some people expect, the benefit of doing it right puts more money in our clients’ pockets – which, ultimately, is the most important consideration.