Trying to obtain a personal injury claim settlement after you’ve been injured can be an exhausting process. People are often eager to receive settlement funds as quickly as possible so they can focus on recovering after an accident, but initial offers from insurance companies aren’t always fair. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident in New Jersey, you might be wondering how long it will take to settle your case.
The time needed to settle a personal injury claim varies significantly from case to case. Some cases settle within a few months while others take several years. It is not uncommon for cases in New Jersey to take a year or more to resolve. Although this may seem like a long time, the settlement negotiation process lets you obtain fair compensation for your injuries.
On average, people who hire a lawyer and negotiate their settlement receive more money than those who don’t. Hiring a lawyer who can efficiently handle a personal injury case can speed up the settlement process and avoid undue delays. Experienced personal injury lawyers like those at Villani & DeLuca can help ensure that your claim settles as quickly as possible while still protecting your rights to proper compensation.
The Time Needed to Reach a Settlement Depends on the Case
Several factors can impact how long it will take to settle a personal injury claim. These include:
- The type or category of personal injury case
- Complexity of evidence
- Extent and complexity of injuries
- The other party’s willingness to negotiate and make reasonable settlement offers
- Whether you need to file a lawsuit
Generally, cases that are more complex or involve permanent injuries will require more time to settle. Understandably, most people would like to resolve their matter quickly, receive compensation and focus on recovery. However, accepting an early offer for a quick settlement may leave you without the resources you deserve or need for the future.
Types of Claims and the Discovery Process
Certain categories of personal injury cases tend to settle more quickly than others. This is due to the varying complexity of the evidence, the types of insurance involved, and the severity of injuries typically involved in a particular kind of claim. Medical malpractice and product liability cases tend to take longer than car accident claims or “slip and fall” injuries.
For example, a product liability claim may involve highly complex evidence. Lawyers will need to review medical records and complex information about the product, and there may be multiple parties involved. Consultations with experts may be necessary to learn more about defects in the product. On the other hand, a slip and fall case might only involve one or two witnesses and a simple injury such as a fractured wrist.
Even if a case doesn’t result in a lawsuit, both sides will want to review all the evidence thoroughly before agreeing to a binding settlement agreement. The process of collecting and examining the evidence for a legal case is known as the discovery process. Discovery involves asking the other party for medical records and other pertinent documents, possibly undergoing additional medical exams as well as interviewing witnesses.
The discovery process takes longer in more complex cases, and New Jersey Law recognizes this fact. Under New Jersey Court Rule §4:24-1, the discovery process must be completed within 300 days of filing a lawsuit for an injury based on a car accident or slip and fall. However, cases involving medical malpractice or other complicated claims have 450 days to complete the discovery process. Sometimes a judge may even extend these periods if more time is needed.
How the Severity of Injuries Impacts Settlement Time
The extent and complexity of your injuries can also affect how much time is needed to settle your claim properly. Straightforward injuries from which you are likely to recover fully may result in a quicker and easier settlement process.
If your arm was broken in a car accident, you might already know the full extent of your medical bills. However, severe injuries or those that are likely to cause lifelong pain or medical problems may lead to lengthier settlement negotiations. Parties to a personal injury case may have more difficulty in agreeing to a settlement award for future pain or medical care.
Be aware that sometimes even injuries that seem minor can cause pain or disability years later. Back injuries and broken bones can result in long-term pain, loss of mobility, and employment issues. Once your case has settled, you won’t be able to seek additional compensation at a later time. Speaking with a skilled NJ personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement offer will help you get the financial compensation you need.
Taking Time to Negotiate or File a Lawsuit
Insurance companies often make offers to settle a case quickly. They may tell you that they will never offer more or try to make you think that if you don’t settle right away, you won’t get anything. However, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer about your claim and injuries. Although negotiating a settlement agreement can take additional time, an experienced NJ lawyer can make sure your rights are protected.
Unfortunately, sometimes, the opposing side in a personal injury claim is not willing to make fair settlement offers. They may claim that the accident wasn’t their fault or that your injuries are not as severe as you say. These disputes can lead to a longer discovery process and drag out settlement negotiations.
If a case doesn’t settle relatively quickly, you may need to file a lawsuit. You must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out in your case. The statute of limitations is a law that requires lawsuits to be filed within a certain amount of time after an injury occurs. If you don’t file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you will lose your rights to compensation for your injuries.
If your case hasn’t settled, and this deadline is approaching, it is wise to preserve your rights by filing a lawsuit. It is worth noting that filing a lawsuit doesn’t mean that your case won’t settle. Many personal injury lawsuits settle before trial.
Filing a lawsuit can demonstrate that you are serious about your case and motivate the other party to make a more earnest settlement offer. In some cases, it is wise to file a lawsuit even if you’re still well within the statute of limitations. A lawyer experienced with personal injury cases in NJ can help you make the right decisions and develop a strategy to settle your claim.
Villani & DeLuca Can Help You Avoid Delays When Settling a Personal Injury Claim
Although settling a personal injury claim can take some time, hiring a lawyer who knows how to handle these cases can help avoid unnecessary delays. A lawyer will keep your case moving without giving up your rights by:
- Responding quickly to communications from opposing parties and insurance companies
- Promptly informing you of any developments or settlement offers in your case
- Efficiently obtaining and reviewing the evidence in your case
- Understanding the law and using the best strategy for your case
- Assertively negotiating for the compensation you need
Experienced lawyers at Villani & DeLuca know how to handle New Jersey personal injury claims and are ready to advocate for you. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Contact Villani & DeLuca online or call (732) 504-3391.