How long will my personal injury case take? Personal injury attorneys commonly advertise on TV (we don’t). The ads can be boiled down to “call us and get money fast”. As if being in a car wreck or losing a dear loved one is like drawing a winning scratch ticket from the local gas station.
This kind of advertising sickens me. It does no one any good except for the marketeers pushing the ads. It creates an unrealistic expectation that personal injury cases are easy and quick money. This expectation gets used against seriously injured folks by juries. Some Connecticut defense attorneys even go so far as improperly arguing in closing that the case is about the plaintiff trying to hit the lottery.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Injury cases can take months or even years to resolve. And this is most unfortunate.
Insurance companies make money on claims. They know you are out of work. They know you have lost a loved one whose income you relied on to support your family. They know you are getting bills from hospital debt collectors. They know you are worrying about paying your mortgage or sending in that money for your daughter’s field trip. They know it and they like it. No matter how nice an adjuster may seem, know he or she is a paid corporate shill working at the direction of big money to boost stock price for some insurance company. So that overpaid executives can get their obscene bonuses. Make no mistake, that is what you are facing.
Years ago, insurance companies adopted a strategy called: Delay, Deny, and Defend in regards to handling claims. They know, even when they have hurt you that time is on their side. They don’t worry about paying their rent. The longer they keep you from the money you are owed they know the more desperate you will become. And what they hope is you get mad. They hope you get mad at your attorney. Mad at the courts. And when you’re mad and you are desperate they hope you’ll take pennies on the dollar to “make it go away”.
So with that big picture in mind, here are 5 reasons your personal injury claim may take time to resolve:
1. You Are Not Done Treating
Aside from insurance company tactics, this is one of the single biggest factors cases take time to resolve. Once you sign a release, you can never come back and ask for more money. Sign a release on day 1 and on day 2 the doctor tells you that you need a hip replacement as a result of the car accident and you are out of luck. You are on the hook for the entire tab. Injury cases should only be settled when you are done treating or your treating doctor believes you have reached maximum medical improvement and has written down what your future care will be and how much it will cost.
2. There Is A Real Dispute In Your Case
Maybe the other guy says the light was red. And you swear it was green. Your lawyer has the responsibility to prove your case. Proving a case can take time. Often, written discovery will not be enough. There will have to be depositions, and expert investigations, and depositions of experts before parties can evaluate their risks of trial. Disputes sometimes arise as to how something happened, how injured a person is, and whether or not the defendant caused your injuries.
3. There Are Legal Issues In Your Personal Injury Case
In addition to factual disputes sometimes lawyers disagree about the law. This will cause the parties to file motions. The most common motions are motions to strike and a motion for summary judgment. While each of these motions are a little different, they really seek to do the same thing – determine the outcome of the case on legal grounds. These motions can be complicated. And multiple motions may be filed. And it may take time to write the briefs on your behalf. Once a case is argued, judges have 4 months to issue a ruling. The wheels of justice can turn slowly.
4. Your Lawyer Isn’t Working Your Case
Lawyers have to gather information. Lawyers get busy. Maybe you haven’t heard from your lawyer in a while. Maybe your lawyer isn’t writing to get your medical records. Your lawyer should keep you informed every step of the way.
5. How Long Will My Personal Injury Case Take? May Depend On Getting Records
In Connecticut police have a year to put together a report on an accident. Sometimes, in complicated and catastrophic accidents, it takes them every last second of that year to issue a report. Additionally, even once a report is issued it may take months for the police to provide it with you. In some departments in Connecticut that can be as long as six months. Even the most diligent lawyer can’t do anything without the report.
Sometimes medical providers take forever to produce records. Even with repeated requests. There is nothing an attorney can do. We need those records to settle and evaluate your case.
Those are the 5 main reasons your personal injury case may take longer than you had hoped for it to resolve.
You and your lawyer should have an ongoing conversation about how long your case will take. Every case is different. Some hospitals turn over records quickly. Others do not. Some cases don’t have legal issues in them and briefing isn’t necessary. Other cases may result in appeals that can take years. You should never be afraid to ask your lawyer about how long your case will take. And when you do so, understand that the best you can hope for is your attorney move your case forward as quickly as possible. And sometimes that may take some time.
Be wary of any lawyer who promises quick money. Quick money is likely short money.