Waiting is an uncomfortable feeling. After a serious accident or injury, it can quickly become unbearable. You’ll be dealing with questions that directly impact your ability to care for yourself and your loved ones: When will you receive a settlement? How will you know it’s for the right amount? What can you do to make sure you get the money you need to put your life back together?
One of the most common questions we get is, “How long will it take to settle my personal injury claim?” This is a valid concern and one that we will address in this blog. We should start by saying, however, that each case is different and yours will depend on any of a number of factors. We’ll be happy to discuss your specific timeline and legal options—all you have to do is call (888) 498-3023 for a free consultation.
The Personal Injury Settlement Timeline in Pennsylvania
Some personal injury lawsuits settle quickly, within a matter of weeks or months. Others may take years to resolve. The length of time it will take for your case to settle—or for a jury to decide the matter—will depend on numerous factors.
These issues influence the time it takes to settle a personal injury claim:
- The nature and complexity of the case itself. This is the first factor that can influence how long it takes to get a personal injury settlement. More complex cases with multiple defendants and/or plaintiffs, disputed liability, or significant injuries often take longer to resolve. The type of case itself may also play a part in timing. Auto accident cases, for example, are often more straightforward than medical malpractice or premises liability cases.
- The severity of injuries. A case involving minor injuries is more likely to be resolved quicker than a case involving life-altering physical and emotional trauma. With severe injuries, there are many more issues to be considered, such as ongoing medical treatment, loss of future earnings, or pain and suffering. The bigger the impact a personal injury has on a victim and their family, the more they should be entitled to recover. This can take more time.
- The jurisdiction. Where your case is heard will also affect the timeline of your settlement or award. In some jurisdictions, courts have a higher volume of cases, which can lead to a backlog and longer wait times for trial dates, hearings, and other court proceedings. What’s more, judges in different jurisdictions may have different approaches to handling personal injury cases, which can impact the speed of resolution. Some may be more inclined to resolve cases quickly or have a more efficient approach to case management than others.
- The insurance company’s policies on handling claims. Some insurance companies work quickly to meet claim deadlines while others take a slower approach, so this can affect the timeline of your settlement. The insurance company’s internal approval processes, approach to negotiation, and even financial state may all influence how quickly they handle a claim. Some insurance companies are willing and ready to go to trial, while others wish to settle quickly to avoid litigation costs.
- The defendant’s stance/attitude toward your case. If the defendant (at-fault) party is determined to fight you every step of the way, this can prolong the case and make a jury trial necessary. The defendant’s financial standing and access to legal counsel may also have an impact on whether they wish to draw a case out at trial or want to try to settle. Bigger opponents with significant assets may consider it worth their while to take a personal injury case to trial, which can make a case take longer than an out-of-court settlement.
- Medical evaluations. Waiting for a complete medical evaluation may be integral to determining the value of your claim and what it will take to get your life back together. Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is a crucial factor in a personal injury case, as it refers to the point at which an injured person's condition stabilizes and no further improvement is expected. MMI plays a significant role in determining the full extent of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
All of these factors can influence how long it takes to settle a personal injury case, but there is even more to consider.
Maximizing Your Recovery
If you have been injured, we understand that you need to receive compensation as soon as possible. The insurance company may push you to settle your personal injury claim as quickly as possible. However, this is not necessarily in your best interest. They typically offer low settlements that will not cover all of your expenses and losses, leaving you in an even worse situation. You need to consider how to maximize your recovery.
Although you may not believe that you can afford to hire an attorney to handle your personal injury claim, this is simply not true. Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC can help on a contingency basis—meaning we don’t get paid unless we win your case. We offer a free consultation so that you can get the facts regarding the settlement of a personal injury claim so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
Keep reading to learn more about this topic, or use our online contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. Do not allow the insurance company to take advantage of you by rushing you to a quick settlement.
Why Does the Insurance Company Want to Settle My Personal Injury Claim Quickly?
You know why you want to settle your personal injury claim quickly: you need the funds to cover the financial losses you’ve incurred due to the accident and injury. Why does the insurance company want to settle the claim quickly? The answer is simple: they want to avoid paying you the true value of your personal injury claim.
The two main reasons the insurance company wants to rush you to a settlement are:
- To prevent you from discussing your claim with an attorney; and
- To prevent you from realizing the true extent of your injuries.
Both of these factors substantially increase the chance that you will demand a higher settlement figure. Therefore, the insurance company would rather offer you a smaller amount to settle the personal injury claim quickly than risk the chance you will receive a higher amount later.
Why Insurance Adjusters Use Time Against You
Insurance companies used to be owned and maintained by their policyholders, a model that incentivized prompt and fair settlements. However, the insurance industry today is beholden to shareholders, who earn profits from the premiums collected by policyholders. In other words, insurance companies no longer serve policyholders—they just collect money from them.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the insurance industry raked in $1.1 trillion in revenue throughout 2016. A decreasing percentage of the industry's revenue goes toward paying claimants, and an increasing percentage of the industry's profits come from "float," or interest earned on policyholder premiums. These are connected—the longer insurance companies hold onto money, the more profit they make. Insurance companies make billions of dollars annually from holding onto claims payments a little longer.
So, as you feel frustrated with your adjuster, remember they're not being incompetent—they're doing exactly what they're trained to do.
Why the Adjuster Isn’t Calling You Back
The reasons why insurance adjusters do not return your calls boil down to one simple motivator: money. By not calling you back, an adjuster knows that they are increasing the pressure on your financial stability. They understand that the longer it takes to call you back, the more likely you are to experience hardships (e.g. getting a replacement vehicle or affording the mounting cost of medical bills). Adjusters know that the longer they wait, the harder your life gets and the more desperate, stressed, and impatient you may become.
After repeatedly delaying your settlement, adjusters are hoping they will be able to influence you into accepting a low offer out of desperation. It’s simple—adjusters utilize their abundance of time because they know they have more of it than you.
Get the Compensation You Deserve, Not What the Insurance Company Is Offering
If we take on your case, we will take care to push for the fair settlement you deserve. We will work with medical experts and economists to evaluate the true impact that your injury has had and will have on your life. Nothing will be overlooked because we know that recovering the right amount of compensation will mean a brighter future for you and your family.
Don’t Sign Anything Until You Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer
After an accident, the insurance company may try to get you to sign a statement or other paperwork that says you accept their offer. Don’t sign anything and don’t deposit a check until you’ve spoken to an attorney. Once you sign a release, the insurance company will not pay you any additional compensation—even if you discover that you require additional treatment or discover that you have a permanent disability that will prevent you from earning as much income as before the accident. We want you to reach maximum medical recovery before we begin negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. This is the only way to ensure you receive the compensation you truly deserve.
Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys Are Here for You
Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience. We’ve fought for Pennsylvanians for 100 years, and we know what it takes to succeed inside or outside of the civil courtroom. We have the resources and experts to value your personal injury claim correctly. Do not let an insurance company bully you into settling your claim. If so, you run the risk of receiving far less than you are entitled to for your financial, emotional, and physical damages. Instead, trust your case with a team that will put your future first.
How long will it take to settle your personal injury claim? Contact Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC today to find out more about our firm and how we can help you get the settlement you deserve. We represent clients in Harrisburg, York, Hanover, Carlisle, Lancaster, Schuylkill County, and the surrounding areas in Pennsylvania.