How Long Will My Car Accident Or Truck Accident Case Take?
Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 at 1:00 pm
One question we hear a lot from our clients that have been injured in a car accident or truck accident is “how long will my case take?” Unfortunately that answer is determined on a case by case basis and there is no one size fits all answer. There are a variety of factors that go into determining how long the process will take from the initial meeting with one of our highly trained car accident lawyers until the conclusion of your case. Many times a motor vehicle accident case will settle during the pre-suit phase of your case. Although those cases wrap up faster than a case where a lawsuit must be filed, there still are a variety of factors that will affect how long the process will take.
Three Things Impact How Long The Pre-Suit Phase Of Your Case Will Take
During the pre-suit phase of your car accident or truck accident case, the three most important factors that help determine how long the process will take are:
- Whether the insurance company for the driver that struck you accepts responsibility for the car accident
- The severity of your injuries and length of your treatment
- Whether the insurance company for the driver that struck you makes you a fair settlement offer prior to filing suit
Clear Liability Cases Tend To Settle More Quickly, However, We Still Need To Wait For Your Medical Treatment To Conclude
It is usually pretty clear who was at fault in causing a car accident. Most people know the rules of the road and know for instance that if truck runs a stop sign and t-bones you, or if another driver rear-ends you while you are stopped at a traffic light, they are the one that was at fault for the accident and will admit same to their insurance company. Under those circumstances there usually is a good opportunity to settle your car accident case without having to place it into suit after you complete your medical treatment.
Assuming the insurance company accepts responsibility to pay you for the injuries you suffered in the car accident, most insurance companies will not make any settlement offers on your case until you have completed your medical treatment. The reason is that until the full extent of your injuries and amount of medical treatment you needed are known it is difficult to assess the value of your case. As you probably would assume, the value of a case for someone who suffers a strained back in a rear-ender and only needs two months of medical treatment is worth much less than someone whose car is totaled by a tractor trailer and suffers a herniated disc in their spine and needs to undergo surgery. The medical treatment for the individual who herniated a disc in their spine and needs surgery is going to take much longer than the person who only strained some muscles in their back, therefore, it is going to take longer before their case can be settled for a fair value.
Clients often ask during the initial consultation, usually only days or weeks after the car accident occurred, how much their case is worth. The answer we provide them without exception- We have no idea! No attorney is able to offer an accurate assessment regarding the value of a case during the initial consultation, without having reviewed any medical records and without any indication of how severe the injuries are and how long the treatment might last. If an attorney tells you during an initial consultation that your case is worth a certain dollar amount, or that they can get you a certain dollar amount, run, and run fast!
Once you have completed your medical treatment we will send all of your medical records and bills, along with any documentation regarding future medical treatment you will may need or lost income you may have incurred, to the insurance company. At this point the insurance company will review all of the documentation and typically make a settlement offer on your case. As you may have guessed, the insurance company never makes their best offer first so we will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement of your case. If the insurance company is not being fair with their settlement offer then your case will proceed to the suit phase.
Disputed Liability Cases Typically Require Lawsuits Be Filed
Unfortunately, many times the negligent drivers are not honest with their insurance companies about how the accident happened. We see this a lot when an accident occurs in an intersection and the driver that caused the accident tells their insurance company that they, and not you, had the green light. Under those circumstances if there are no other facts to determine who caused the accident (eyewitnesses, surveillance video, etc.) the insurance company will usually “deny liability” and refuse to make any settlement offer on your case during the pre-suit phase of your case. As a result, we will have to file a lawsuit on your behalf in order to prove that the other driver was at fault in causing the accident.
It Can Take A Year Or More Before Your Case Is Called To Trial
If it is necessary to place your motor vehicle accident case into suit, either because the insurance company will not accept responsibility for the accident or because they will not make you a fair settlement offer, it can take up to a year or more before the court schedules your case for a trial. Between the date that your lawsuit is filed and the date that the court calls your case for trial the parties will engage in something called discovery. During the discovery phase we will send written questions (Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents) to the lawyer representing the individual we are suing to answer and that lawyer will send similar documents to our attention for our clients to answer with our assistance.
After written discovery is completed the lawyers will then schedule depositions of all of the parties involved in the car accident as well as any witnesses to the accident. A deposition is nothing more than an oral question and answer session that is done under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who will take down everything that is said. Very often after the written discovery and depositions are completed and everyone has more facts about how the accident occurred and what injuries you sustained and the medical treatment you needed, we will speak with the attorney representing the driver that caused your motor vehicle accident and try to settle your case for a fair value.
If your case still cannot be settled after discovery is completed we will proceed with the trial of your case. Once your case is called for trial it can take anywhere from 1 day to multiple days depending on the number of witnesses that will be called to testify.
No two motor vehicle cases are alike. As a result, some cases will take only 2-3 months to resolve while some can take up to 2-3 years. Rest assured that our car accident attorneys’ goal is to get you the best possible settlement or award in the quickest amount of time and we will fight the insurance companies if they do not treat your fairly. If you have been injured in a car accident contact Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC today. Call (215) 875-7030 for your free case consultation.