We wish there was one easy answer to the question “How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim or case?”
Unfortunately, the personal injury settlement process is often a marathon, rather than a sprint.
A large factor in how long it will take you to settle is if your case is settled solely between yourself and an insurance company, or if it requires you to get a lawyer and/or go to court .
Now, let's get some answers... just how long will it take?
In the case that a bodily injury claim is settled solely through an insurance company (without going to court), the insurance company may take weeks to pay out the benefits you are owed.
This is because insurance companies are required to support each payment with evidence, either provided by you, or through their own research into your case.
Before paying you anything related to your settlement, the insurance company must first:
That said, don't rush things! Generally, it can be a good idea to wait until your injuries have stabilized and you have a long term idea of which injuries will heal and which ones will not before you settle with your insurance company.
If you settle too early, you may miss out on reporting some long-term symptoms. To offer you an appropriate settlement amount, the insurance company needs to understand the long-term impacts of any injury on your life, and these aren't always obvious immediately after an accident. That said, be sure to not take too long either, as your statute of limitations can run out.
The good news is that the majority of claims—we estimate 80% of claims—can be settled directly with your insurance company. And you can use PainWorth to better understand what your claim may be worth.
Sometimes you may need the assistance of a lawyer to settle your claim due to the complexity or severity of your injuries.
But—just because you hire a lawyer—it does not necessarily mean your case will go to court (in fact, 99.97% of all claims, with or without a lawyer, never end up in front of a judge).
Instead, your lawyer will likely use methods called alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), which includes processes known as mediation and arbitration to settle your case. In plain English, this means you could have an enforceable settlement without having to go to court.
All-in-all, these methods of settlement typically take months to settle depending on the complexity of your case, instead of the years that a traditional lawsuit could last. That said, the ADR process usually doesn't start until negotiations have broken down, which is often more than a few months, and up to 2 years, from the date of your injury.
Want more information on the alternative dispute resolution, mediation, or arbitration process? Let us know, and we can answer any questions you may have!
If your case must go to court, lengthy delays are likely.
Typically, the process of beginning the journey to court must start no longer than 2 years after the accident (although the statute of limitations varies by jurisdictions).
The process after this is slow and time consuming, but can still settle outside of court via negotiations at any time.
In major cities, a personal injury trial often involves a backlogged court system. It is likely that the case could take 3 to 4 years before you even begin trying your case in court.
By going to court, legal fees and court fees begin to add up and before you know it, a substantial portion of the money won in the outcome of a court case is eaten up by fees.
In the case of a $100,000 potential payout (for easy math), a plaintiff may see less than 60% that much after their lawyer’s share, court filing fees, and sales taxes are factored in.
Furthermore, the average personal injury case in Canada takes 5 years after the date of accident, before the claimant sees any money at all.
With all that said, with any personal injury claim, it's important to decide if you'd prefer to:
1. Accept a settlement directly with the insurance company, and get a payment quickly;
2. Or get a lawyer and court involved and potentially see a smaller OR larger payout less quickly.
There are several things you can do to increase the likelihood that an insurance company will take your claim seriously, and work towards a negotiated settlement. Most insurance companies do not want to go to court to settle these claims, as it also adds a lot of legal cost to their overhead which eats into their profit. However, to get an adjuster to take your claim seriously, you need to provide sufficient evidence that:
There are a few specific things that need to be demonstrated:
The more evidence and documentation you can provide to help the adjuster have confidence that something happened, such as police reports, witness statements, or expert reports, the more likely they are to take the claim seriously, and the more likely they are to acknowledge that their insured was responsible for the incident or your damages.
Additionally, providing relevant medical reports (never give them unrestricted access to all your medical records or reports) helps the adjuster have confidence that you were injured due to the incident at hand (a car accident, for example).
This is the secret sauce of Painworth! Our platform will collect all the relevant details about your claim, track your out-of-pocket expenses and medical visits, and output a formatted summary of your damages that you can share to the insurance company adjuster, along with all the evidence outlined above, to begin negotiating your claim settlement.
As always, we’re here to answer your questions and give you peace of mind about the personal injury settlement process. Be sure to check out our next article "How Much Does It Cost to Settle a Personal Injury Claim or Case?"