After you experience a personal injury, a lawsuit may seem like the best option. But it’s important to know that the legal process takes time. It’s generally 1 to 3 years before you can collect any proceeds from a settlement. Whether you have an auto accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice, product liability, or other personal injury case, here is a general timeline plus some factors that can impact the timing of your case and settlement.
Obtaining a settlement directly from the insurance company may take as little as 4 to 6 weeks. However, you’re not likely to receive a reasonable amount. To get a larger settlement, it’s important to hire a lawyer as quickly as you can, especially if you have high medical bills, been out of work for any amount of time, and/or broke a bone.
To start off your case:
- You and your lawyer will begin the initial paperwork.
- The other party will be informed you intend to file a claim.
- A court motion will be filed; this can result in a judgement or dismissal of your case.
*If you’ve passed the statute of limitations pertaining to your case, the court will most likely automatically dismiss it.
Once the lawsuit is filed and initial preparation is complete, the discovery process begins. It can last from 6 months to over a year and involves:
- Gathering documents, including medical records, police reports, and witness accounts.
- Exchanging documents, including a demand letter, with the other party or insurance carrier.
- Conducting depositions, or sworn out-of-court verbal testimonies.
- Investigating disputes related to the event that allegedly caused your injury.
- Researching the incident, such as reconstructing an accident.
- Waiting for a complete medical prognosis, or maximum medical improvement.
*Most cases are settled before going to trial via negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.
What If My Case Goes to Trial?
A trial requires an appearance in court. Motions and other arguments will take place and then the jury will hear your case. Settlement can occur at any point during a trial. Obtaining a verdict may not take place for 1 to 2 years after initially filing your lawsuit.
If the plaintiff wins, the defendant is legally required to pay them damages awarded by the jury. However, the defense can appeal the verdict. This can force settlement for a lower dollar amount or lead to a new trial. The appeals process can extend cases by years.
The Collection Process
If you succeed in your case, collection or efforts to collect a judgement can begin. Claimants quickly realize during settlement that receiving a check is a process in and of itself. It’s simply a small part of a legally binding agreement.
When a case has been settled, attorneys on both sides report it to the court, which issues an Order of Settlement. This requires all necessary paperwork to be completed within 30 or 60 days. Signing the release (prepared by the defendant’s attorney) frees the other party of any additional liability. Next:
- The at-fault party’s insurance company releases the check, usually payable to you and your attorney; this process can be slowed by internal issues.
- Your attorney receives the check and deposits it into an escrow account, until the bank clears the check.
- Funds are dispersed to pay outstanding liens, including those related to your case, charged against you, or to cover unpaid medical bills, child support, and attorney’s fees.
Potential Delays in Settlement and Receiving a Check
Settlement can take longer due to factors such as:
- A complex case
- Higher amount of damages
- More severe injuries
- Increased caseloads
- Defendant’s willingness to settle
Getting a settlement check can take longer if:
- Someone disputes the release form.
- An agreement was not properly signed/returned.
- The case involves a minor or an estate.
- The amount of a lien is being negotiated.
- A clerical error is made.
- The insurance office processing the claim and the one issuing the check are in different states.
- The claims adjuster didn’t forward your documents in time, or a supervisor didn’t immediately sign off on the agreement.
Settlement Funding Provides Financial Help While You Wait
As you can see, there are many factors that affect how long a lawsuit takes to settle and when you receive a settlement check. At Fund Capital America, we provide various types of legal financing to help cover your expenses. We offer pre-settlement and post-settlement funding as well as other options paid back only if you win, out of the funds you eventually expect to receive (see our full list of services). Continue browsing to learn more about the cases we fund and how we can help, and apply now for fast approval. For assistance, call 310-424-5176 today.