That is a very difficult question to answer. It depends on many factors, such as the type of case, the type of injuries, who the defendant’s insurance company is, how long you treat, and whether or not the case will end up in litigation.
The first issue is determining what type of case you have. Is it a car accident where you were rear-ended and there is no dispute on liability? Or is it a slip and fall where there may be additional investigation required to determine who is at fault? Or a case involving a dog bite where the owner of the dog or property where you were bitten has to be located. If there was a crime involved, obtaining the police investigation from the police or prosecutors office often causes lengthy delays. These are just some of the factors that could delay the settlement of your case.
The next issue is the type of injuries you receive. In some cases, your injuries may heal very quickly and the treatment may be very limited. On the other hand you have may sustained serious and permanent injuries which require surgery such as a fusion and have substantial wage losses. The severity of your injury is going to play an important role in how long your case takes to resolve.
The identity of the defendant’s insurance company and how much insurance is available will also impact how long the case takes to settle. Some insurance companies are very straightforward and will try and settle fairly and quickly. While others will not talk settlement until the case is in litigation and extensive discovery such as interrogatories and depositions are conducted. We recently settled a case with Allstate Insurance Company. While the case should have settled quickly, it was not until a lawsuit was filed and their insured was served with the summons and complaint did they offer a fair settlement. Each insurance company is different and how they settle their claims will affect how long it takes to settle your case.
Also the type of treatment and the duration will impact how long your case takes to settle. Treatment can vary from only a visit to the doctor or emergency room to extensive hospitalization and rehabilitation. As you can see, the duration of treatment can vary dramatically.
Finally, if your case does go into litigation, meaning a lawsuit is field on your behalf or the estate’s behalf, it will also greatly affect how long the case takes to resolve. In our experience, on the more serious injury cases and wrongful death claims, the defendants will require substantial discovery to be exchanged before they will talk seriously about resolving the case. Often arbitration will be held or mediation will be conducted before the case settles. It is impossible to know with any certainty at an early stage in the case.
As indicated above no one can tell you right after an accident how long it will take to settle since there are so many factors to evaluate. However, a good experienced lawyer should be able to give you a good overview of the process and what to expect at different stages of your case.