It only takes a few seconds for an accident to turn your entire world upside down—but obtaining compensation for your injuries from the responsible insurance company can take a lot longer. Some personal injury claims may settle within a matter of months, while others can take years. Why is there such a big difference between claims?
Serious Injuries Take Longer to Settle
You can't settle a personal injury claim until you have recovered from your injuries as much as possible. Naturally, the more severe your injuries, the longer that takes. Only once you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement, it's much easier to determine how much your claim is worth.
The value of your personal injury claim depends upon the following factors:
- The total medical bills you have already amassed
- Your projected future medical needs related to your accident
- The cost of any mobility devices you need, such as prosthetics or wheelchairs
- The cost of home or vehicle modifications to accommodate your disability
- The value of any of your property that was destroyed in the accident
- Whether you are left with scars, amputations or other permanent damage
- The amount of pain and suffering you had to endure
All of these complex factors have to be considered together to properly value your claim.
It Can Be Difficult to Establish Liability
Another reason that some personal injury claims seem to just drag on forever is the question of liability. Insurance companies often want to argue about how much liability their client has for any given claim. In most states, where some version of comparative negligence is used, a claim can be reduced or even negated if the plaintiff is partially at fault for his or her own injuries. In the few states that follow the contributory negligence rule, victims can be denied all compensation even if they're only 1% at fault for their own injuries.
Some Defendants Are More Reasonable Than Others
Finally, there's a human factor in every claim that can add to the time it takes to settle. If the insurance company is being reasonable, you may be able to settle quickly. If the insurance company is determined to look for ways to devalue your claim, they may drag out the process as long as possible in hopes that you'll simply give up and take a poor offer.
Personal injury lawyer services can help keep your claim in motion and work to get you the settlement completed on schedule.