How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?
If I had a nickel for every time a new client asked how long their auto accident case was going to take to get resolved, I would probably be able to take my wife on a nice vacation. In all actuality, it is a great question, but one that is hard to answer given the myriad of variables that can and do appear during the duration of the car accident case. The best way that I have found to answer this question is to explain the process rather than put an arbitrary and very unreliable time frame on the case. I will try to delineate that same process below in very basic and oversimplified detail.
The first step is, of course, getting into an actual car accident. Next follows seeking immediate medical help followed by scheduled medical treatment including chiropractic, physical therapy or scheduled visits with your treating physician. Intermixed with your treatment regimen, you will also be working on getting your car repaired or replaced. The vehicle typically is taken care of within one month of the accident, but the medical treatment portion of a car accident can range from one visit one time to a person treating months and months and requiring surgery followed up with physical therapy taking years.
It is a good rule of thumb not to settle your case until you and your doctor feel that you have reached maximum medical improvement. Just be sure to keep in mind that most states have a statute of limitations which means the case has to either be settled or filed in litigation before the statute expires or your case no longer has any merit.
Once you have completed your treatment, the next step is to collect all medical records, create a demand packet including wage loss, medical expenses, pain and suffering and any other hardships the accident caused and submit them all to the insurance. The insurance will then extend offers, and the negotiating process begins. If you reach a settlement you agree to accept the case is now over, but if you are unable to settle, then your only other option is to file a lawsuit which extends the duration of the case dramatically. Long story short and without really answering the question, every case is very different and takes different amounts of time to resolve.