Suffering an injury because of someone else’s negligence often leads to extensive medical bills, lost wages, and the inability to provide for your family. There’s so much that goes into building a personal injury case, which is why you should work with an experienced St. Louis personal injury attorney throughout the process of making a claim or filing a lawsuit.
Personal injury cases cannot be resolved overnight. As much as you want to receive compensation in a quick manner for your injuries, taking the first settlement offer may hurt you in the long run. Getting a fair, just settlement could take a few months, and sometimes it can take even longer. If you opt to go to trial, it may take longer, still.
There are many factors that go into a personal injury case and why it might take so long to resolve. Today, we want to go through those factors so you can get a better understanding of what to expect when it comes to the length of your case.
1. Your injury needs a long time to heal
The injuries you suffer from a car accident, motorcycle wreck, or any other type of incident will take time to heal. Treatment might not always end after a single visit to the emergency room. You might require multiple surgeries, appointments with specialists, and extensive physical therapy. All of these play a role in the length of your personal injury case.
A personal injury lawsuit cannot be resolved until you know the full extent of your injuries. This is one of the main reasons why personal injury cases take so long to resolve. In some cases, it takes a very long time to reach your maximum improvement, which means you may need to keep being treated for months.
Once you have been released from care, your St. Louis injury attorney will review the entirety of your medical history and records. Only then can we truly assess the extent of your injuries and the damages to which you should be entitled.
2. The defendant’s insurance company refuses to cooperate
Even if the case it cut and dry, many defendants’ insurers won’t act cooperate, or they’ll drag their feet to the very last minute, which often extends the time it takes to resolve your case. Insurance companies will do everything possible to avoid paying claims made against their clients, and often make lowball offers in the hopes that the plaintiff is so desperate that he or she will take any offer.
3. Your claim for compensation is substantial
If you are making a claim for a “minor” injury – one that heals quickly, that is – your claim should resolve faster. But if your injuries are catastrophic, long-term, and/or permanent, and leave you unable to work or care for yourself without help, the compensation you will need will be substantial.
Again, this goes back to the full extent of your injuries. For example, say John Doe is riding his bike when a driver blows through a red light and hits him. Mr. Doe’s sustains numerous broken bones, but also suffers a spinal cord injury that leaves him unable to walk or move his arms. He can no longer go to work and earn a living, and his wife needs to either quit her job to care for him, or hire a full-time nurse to address his needs. The compensation Mr. and Mrs. Doe seek will be substantial, because it will encompass:
- All of the medical expenses, including the costs of a wheelchair and other medical equipment, as well as any rehabilitation he needs
- All of Mr. Doe’s lost wages, including the loss of future income since he can no longer work
- Any pain and suffering Mr. Doe has
- Loss of companionship by Mrs. Doe
- Other potential losses
In short, “big” claims can take longer, because the insurance company will make every effort to find anything to discredit you as the plaintiff, and place blame on you for the accident that left you injured. Oftentimes, the defendant in a personal injury case will question the damages the plaintiff requests. This usually happens when the defendant questions medical treatment. Your attorney will need to prove that the injury was caused by the accident to receive compensation for this type of damage from the defendant.
4. There are issues with liability
If you are having trouble proving liability in the case, this will delay the resolution of the case. When there is any amount of doubt that the defendant was negligent in the accident that caused your injuries, the insurance company representing him or her will fight vehemently against offering you compensation.
Should I accept a smaller settlement just to get it over with?
No, you should not – but we understand the temptation, especially if you are hurting for money to pay your medical bills or cover your daily expenses. The urge to just take anything so that it’s over can be pretty strong.
While it might seem like a good idea to relieve the stress associated with a personal injury lawsuit, you need to know that once you accept a settlement, there is no going back to ask for more if it turns out that your injury was more significant than you thought, or if there are other complications.
There are some things you can do, however, to help ease that burden. You can use your Med Pay insurance to cover the costs of your medical expenses, or to pay the deductibles on your health insurance. You may also be able to make a claim through your own car insurance to pay for damage to your vehicle. You should also call your mortgage company and any lenders you have to explain the situation. They may be willing to work out a deal to help you avoid going into foreclosure or to a collection agency.
At The Hayden Law Firm, we are your advocate after you are injured due to another’s negligence. We work to reclaim what you’ve lost and secure the compensation you need. Please call our offices at 314-480-3100 or complete our contact form for a free, no-risk consultation. We proudly serve clients in St. Louis, and throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Attorney Amanda L. Hayden has dedicated her legal career to fearlessly advocating for clients and their families after their lives have been devastated by the careless and/or reckless conduct of others.
Read more about Amanda L. Hayden