Q: How long it will take to resolve my case?
Answer: I don’t know. Anyone who tells you they know is either not being honest with you or saying it just to get you to hire them. A good personal injury attorney won’t do either with you.
There are many factors that affect how long it will take to settle a personal injury case. These can include the type of case it is, the injuries you receive, the other party’s insurance company, how long you treat, and whether you end up in litigation.
The first issue is what type of case do you have. A car accident case may be something with clear liabililty. In other words, the other party may be completely at fault. However, a slip and fall case may require more investigation into fault. Or a case involving a dog bite where the owner of the dog has to be located may take more time. If there is a crime involved, getting the reports from the police may be delayed until the crime is prosecuted. That could delay the resolution of your case.
The next issue is the injuries you receive. In some cases, your injuries may resolve fairly quickly. You may have a laceration that is stitched up and heals in 6 weeks. But you could also need surgery and may not be able to have the surgery for months or over a year. The severity of your injury is going to dictate how long it takes to settle your case.
Then you have to look at the insurance company. While most have slogans talking about what great people they are, in reality some claims departments are quicker about settling cases than others. I recently resolved a case with Commerce West Insurance Company. While the case should have settled quickly, and would have with another insurance company, the adjuster had no interest in resolving it until he saw I was serious about filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed, their insured was served and then the case settled. But it took longer than it should have. Each insurance company is different and those differences will affect how long it takes to settle your case.
The type of treatment you receive is also going to affect how long your case takes. Someone who needs only physical therapy for 2 months is going to be able to settle their case sooner, in most cases, than someone who needs a disc fusion. The length of treatment varies. A good attorney will not dictate your treatment, but explain to you the process depending on the treatments your doctor recommends.
Finally, whether your case ends up in litigation is a factor in settling your case. A case that can be resolved at the claims level usually resolves quicker. A case that ends up in litigation usually involves discovery, both written discovery and depositions, and could involve a mediation, an arbitration or other alternative dispute resolution. It is impossible to know at an early stage of the case.
The bottom line: no one can tell you how long your case will take. There are a variety of factors that will affect your case. You need to find an attorney who gives you straight answers and provides you with the information you need. But do not expect an attorney to know all of the answers. Sometimes an attorney who says “I don’t know” is the best person to hire.