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Posted On March 16, 2016 Personal Injury
When a serious injury affects you all day, every day, time doesn’t exactly fly. It’s not only your journey to recovery that can seem painfully slow, either. The personal injury claims process isn’t designed to get you the compensation you deserve quickly and easily. It’s full of obstacles and opportunities for the other side to hold up the process and delay your payout.
Whether it seems like your personal injury case is dragging on or you’re just trying to get an idea how long the process will take, read on. We break down how deadlines affect your case, what factors can make your case take longer, why it may seem that a lawyer is taking a long time to settle your case, and how Console & Associates P.C. can help.
Personal injury cases take time, but there are, at least, deadlines that affect certain phases of the claim.
In some instances, you have to notify defendants in writing that you’re pursuing a claim within a certain timeframe. For example, if you are suing a government entity in New Jersey, a statute known as the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, or Title 59, requires you to submit formal notice of a claim within just 90 days of the accident.
In most cases, you have to actually file a lawsuit within two years of the date your accident occurred. Different parts of the process, like the discovery phase, may also be subject to time limits, though those limits can be extended.
These deadlines don’t limit how long the case as a whole can go on. And, unfortunately, most of them help the defendant more than they help you.
Are you surprised to hear that these deadlines are measured in months and years? Many accident victims are. The media and the popular misconception of “jackpot justice” makes many people think an accident translates to a quick (and high) payout. But when you’re actually in a personal injury situation, you realize that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The first thing you need to know about the timeline of a personal injury case is that there’s no set amount of time that a case should take. It depends on a lot of factors, some of which might surprise you.
The factors that might affect the timeline of your case include:
To make sure you’re getting all the money you deserve, your attorney doesn’t want to settle your case – or even begin negotiating a payout amount – until it’s clear what your damages are. This includes your physical injuries, but also aspects like your medical expenses, the pain and suffering you go through, and the permanent effects on your life.
This means that in most cases, your lawyer will need to wait until you are finished your medical treatment – that is, you have made the most complete physical recovery you’re going to make – to take certain actions, like sending a demand letter to the insurance company.If your injuries don’t take long to treat, your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations sooner. But if your medical care goes on for months or even years, which can sometimes happen to accident victims, it could delay the next step in your claim.
When the defendant is playing hardball in negotiations, intentionally concealing documents and other evidence concerning your accident, or trying to deny fault or coverage, your case could take longer. In this case, the only way for your lawyer to stop taking so long to settle your case would be to cave into the insurance company’s pressure and stop trying to get more money for you – not the result you want from your personal injury claim.
Don’t worry too much about the insurance company’s uncooperative behavior. That’s something experienced attorneys in this area of law are used to dealing with as we represent our clients.
If you need a personal injury attorney near you, consider hiring Console & Associates to represent you. Our attorneys have been practicing personal injury law for more than 25 years and have even worked on the defense side, so we see this situation all the time. In fact, we’ve taken cases all the way to the New Jersey State Supreme Court when that was what it took to get the defendant insurance company to cooperate.
We know that if we pursue the case relentlessly, present our facts convincingly, and refuse to give up, we can get past these obstacles. It may take some more time and patience – but in the end, it will be worth it, because we’ll get you the full amount of money you deserve instead of settling for less.
A trial is also a gamble. If the jury decides in the defendant’s favor, you could walk away with nothing. Even if the jury awards you a very high settlement, a judge can sometimes decrease your compensation. And, since the defendant can appeal the jury’s decision on certain grounds, it’s possible that at the end of the day, the trial won’t resolve anything – at least, not right away.
Trials create all this hassle not just for you, but for the legal system as a whole. So it’s common practice to try all other avenues – settlement negotiations, mediations, arbitrations – to resolve a case before it goes to trial. If you’ve been wondering, “Why is my lawyer taking so long to resolve this case through mediation or arbitration instead of going straight to trial?”, this is part of the answer. For decades, the state of New Jersey has had in place Complementary Dispute Resolution
(CDR) Programs that aim to resolve claims without trial. In some instances, lawyers may be required to attempt mediation, arbitration, or another form of conflict resolution before a judge will agree to hear your case.
If conflict resolution outside the courtroom can’t happen, you may be in this for the long haul. It can take one to two years from the time an attorney files a lawsuit just to get an initial trial date, especially in areas where the legal system is already overburdened with too many court cases. And, because scheduling conflicts aren’t unusual in the legal industry, your trial could be rescheduled – delayed by days, months, or even years.
On the surface, there’s not much you personally can do to speed up the case. You can’t just decide that you’ll get better faster. You can’t force a defendant to cooperate. And you can’t just settle a case that’s bound for the courtroom, at least not for the amount of money you deserve.
But when you choose Console & Associates P.C. to handle your case, we will work tirelessly get you maximum value in the least amount of time possible. This commitment is one of the features that sets our firm apart, and it’s not just empty words.
At our firm, we can get your money faster because we start working sooner. Some attorneys wait until that two-year deadline is almost up to finally file your lawsuit, even if you finished treating months earlier. They could get working on your case sooner, but they choose not to.
At our firm, there’s a real sense of urgency. We know that you need compensation sooner rather than later. That’s why we begin working on your case from the moment you hire us. We investigate it from the start, gather evidence and information, and build your case as though it’s going to trial (even though most claims do not end in a trial).
When you’re done treating, we make a point to send out a demand letter and start negotiating a settlement right away. If we know what your damages are and that litigation is inevitable, we file your lawsuit early to get the case moving. Taking this initiative has allowed us to resolve a number of cases in as little as three to four months – sometimes even after other attorneys spent years supposedly working on them.
It’s not always purely the length of time that leaves you wondering why your attorney is taking so long to settle your case. It’s being kept in the dark about where your case stands and what’s being done to make it a priority.
At Console & Associates, we make every effort to make sure that you fully understand where your claim is in the legal process and what to expect. We don’t want you to ever feel that you don’t know what’s going on with your claim. Instead, we want to assure you that we’re taking the right steps at the right time to move your case forward – even if, due to factors beyond your and our control, a quick settlement isn’t possible.
That’s why we make a point to educate and inform our clients and to explain – in plain, understandable language, not legalese – how the legal process works. We take steps to keep in touch with our clients proactively. And, if you ever have questions or concerns about your claim, you can reach out to your legal team by phone or email anytime – without worrying about being charged for a call or meeting.
The reality is that not every case can be resolved in a few months. Some will take years, no matter who is representing you.
But don’t you want to know that your attorney is proactive in getting you everything you deserve?