How Long Does An Injury Settlement Take?
Learn how long injury cases take to settle, one of the most common questions injured people have.
As you might imagine I talked to a lot of injured people. One of the most common questions they ask is:
"How long it will take to get my injury case settled?"
I get this sort of question at two times in the life of a personal injury case.
First, when somebody is considering hiring me or is getting a free consultation regarding their personal injury case. As a reminder, my office handles all kinds of injury cases so you can always get a free consultation by calling 312-500-4500 and we answer their phone all the time.
Second, when we have settled the case or gotten a verdict at trial, my clients often want to know how long it will take to get the money. Basically we are counting from the time that they agreed to the settlement until the time that they get their settlement check.
So, I decided to answer that question here so that people will know what to expect.
How long does it take for a personal injury settlement from start to finish?
It’s a good and reasonable question to ask. But here’s the truth: it depends on how big and complex your cases is.
I once settled a case for a client with one phone call. Using our special unique proprietary settlement system that only my firms uses, we typically resolve injury cases in under one year, and sometimes much faster than that.
But larger cases where we file a lawsuit in the case is disputed can take several years to finish. Luckily, those are rare. We usually get cases done pretty quickly.
So what do you need to know about how long it takes toget your money?
If you have not completed your medical care, we often cannot settle your case.
In cases with smaller or non-permanent injuries, we have to wait until you are done going to the doctor and have been released from medical care before we can settle your case.
The reason for that cut is that before we send a demand to settle to the insurance company, we need all of your medical bills and records. We want to claim every injury that you got from your accident. And we also need to know whether you are 100% better now, or whether you have any permanent problems.
This is important because generally speaking, the bigger the injury, the more permanent the injury, and the higher the medical bills, the more the case is worth in settlement to you. So we want to include everything.
Making sure that we have all of the medical bills and we know everything we need to know about your injuries and medical care can slow down settlement. Believe me, you do not want a lawyer to settle your case before they have a full picture of your injuries and your recovery because it means less money compensation for you in your injury settlement.
If your case involves lots of people or companies or is legally or medically complex, a quick settlement is less likely.
If your case just involves a car crash between you and another person who ran into you, those cases are often the quickest to settle.
But if you're involved in a five car collision, we may be in a situation where many of the other drivers are pointing fingers at each other. So it is not easy for us to agree on who should be paying, or rather, which insurance company should be paying.
Another thing to think about is if your case involves nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, or if your personal medical history is complicated, insurance companies want all sorts of information and depositions before they will make it offer.
So for example, if you had a bad back for 20 years but we're living with that, and then a new accident causes you to have surgery, the insurance companies are going to fight that.
They are going to hire their own doctors and experts to say that you would've needed the surgery eventually anyway. Or that the need for surgery wasn't related to the car crash, or that the surgery just isn't medically necessary for you.
Anytime a personal injury insurance company can manufacture a reason not to pay, or to pay little, they take it. They would rather pay a doctor they hired to look at your medical records and say you weren't hurt then they would pay you for your money.
In situations like this where the case or your medical history is complicated, that extends the time that we have to fight about your case and it delays your injury settlement.
How long does it take for you to get your settlement money once you agree to settle your case?
I usually tell people that it takes 30 to 60 days after they signed settlement paperwork for me to get them their check. The truth is, I can usually get people their money within 14 to 21 days.
However, here's a couple of things you need to know about that. Those are guidelines, not 100% predictions.
Dealing with a difficult insurance company or defense attorney can slow down your settlement.
It is a common problem that defense attorneys or insurance companies can include bad language in the settlement documents or will just be very slow in responding to our request for the check.
If your case is already in court, we can go to court and ask the judge to try to help us speed things up. Otherwise, it is not uncommon for my office to have to follow-up 5 to 10 times (or more) with the insurance company or defense attorney to get our check for you.
The settlement process itself is slow.
First, we have to agree to a settlement amount.
Next, we have to get the settlement check.
Once my office has the settlement check, we have to make sure that you have signed appropriate papers allowing us to disperse on the case. If we have those papers, that I am required by law to put the settlement check into a special bank account until the check clears.
When your personal injury settlement check clears, then I write checks to everyone who gets money out of your case. You will see and agree to those numbers before any of this happens.
Part of this process is that we often have to call doctors offices and negotiate their medical bills down for you. This is usually a pretty quick process, but some doctors can delay the process by a week or more if their office isn't very well-run or if we are calling during holidays or vacation time. Or especially this is been the case during Covid lockdowns.
Sometimes we have to reach out to Medicare or Medicaid to pay them back some money out of your settlement. Medicaid usually responds quickly, but during the Covid lockdowns, they have not been getting back to us quickly. They usually take less than a week to respond but we have found that an 8 to 12 weeks delay in waiting for them to respond to us is common these days. That's unfortunate.
Hearing back from Medicare can also take a really long time. Most of that process involves contacting them via computer, which seems to of speeded things up a bit.
So you can see that in that even though in most of my cases, clients get their money within 21 to 30 days or faster, there are certainly lots of reasons why in certain cases, it can be weeks or months before you get your injury settlement check.
No matter what the circumstance, my office is very aggressive because we know that you deserve to have your settlement money as fast as possible.
I hope this information helps you understand personal injury settlement timelines as far as how fast you will get your money. I promise you, at my office, we do everything in our power to speed things along. We don't get paid until you get paid. And there's no reason for you to wait one extra day to get your money.
If you have a case or any questions please feel free to give us a call at 312-500-4500. That's a telephone line that is answered night and day, 365 days a year.
So please feel free to give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you.