You suffered catastrophic injuries due to another party’s negligence. You have life-changing challenges in front of you, whether you lost one of your senses, suffered a spinal cord injury, or suffered a brain injury with long-lasting consequences.
Now, you need to pursue compensation through an injury claim. How long will it take? What does the process look like?
How Long does It Take to Settle a Catastrophic Injury Claim?
The time needed to settle an injury claim may range from an estimated six months to as much as three years, in some cases. On average, injury claims settle around the 18-month mark. However, catastrophic injury claims may take longer to settle than other types of personal injury claims because of the complexity involved in the process.
What does the Timeline for Settling a Catastrophic Injury Claim Look Like?
Several things must take place in order to reach a resolution in your catastrophic injury claim.
Before the insurance company issues any type of settlement offer, the company will launch a full investigation into the circumstances that led to your injuries, the injuries you actually sustained, and the compensation you deserve for those injuries. The insurance company may want to know all the details of your accident: where it happened, how it occurred, and what factors contributed to it.
Your attorney will also want to investigate your accident and all the details associated with it. After a catastrophic accident, you may need to pursue as much compensation as possible for your injuries and the financial losses you have faced. An attorney can help look for all parties that share liability for your accident and the evidence that will help establish that you deserve compensation.
In addition, the insurance company will want to investigate the full extent of your injuries. You may have heard of insurance claims where the injured party tried to pretend to have worse injuries than they really suffered. The insurance company wants to make sure that you aren’t trying to exaggerate your injuries or claim injuries that you never suffered.
As part of the investigation, the insurance company may want to take a look at your medical records or even send you to an independent medical care provider who has not seen you during the course of your current care to get a better idea of what injuries you suffered. The investigation period can take weeks or even months, depending on what details the insurance company needs to look into.
While the insurance company and your lawyer focus on investigating the cause of your accident and the extent of your injuries, you will already be focused on your recovery. In the case of minor injuries, patients might make a full recovery before the insurance company and lawyer have a chance to complete their investigation.
In the case of catastrophic injuries, on the other hand, you may have a much longer road to recovery in front of you. After a spinal cord injury, it could take six months or more for your doctors to have a full picture of how much mobility you will ultimately recover and how much independence you will have following your recovery. If you suffered a brain injury, it could take months before your doctors know how many of your losses will be permanent.
Why Recovery Matters to Your Timeline
Your recovery is a critical element of your catastrophic injury lawsuit. In order to determine how much compensation you deserve for your medical bills and the other losses that go along with your catastrophic injury, you need to know what those bills will look like.
How long will you have to stay in the hospital? How much mobility or capability will you eventually recover? Will you suffer setbacks and complications along the way?
Immediately after your accident, neither you nor your doctors can predict the answers to those questions. In many cases, your attorney will wait until you know what the long-term impact of your injuries will be before finalizing your injury claim. That means you may not even be able to start negotiating a settlement offer until several months after the initial incident.
The negotiation process may actually begin immediately after the accident. Often, insurance companies will try to get in touch with injury victims soon after an incident and provide an early settlement offer. They often offer just enough to make an early settlement sound tempting.
That offer, however, may not reflect your needs. Your lawyer can work with you to put together your own demand package: a response to an early settlement offer that establishes the full compensation you deserve for your injuries and what you expect the insurance company to pay.
The insurance company will then have the chance to respond to your demands, usually by coming back with a lower offer. Often, you will go back and forth with the insurance company several times while trying to reach a settlement agreement that works for both parties.
Sometimes, you cannot reach a settlement agreement through negotiation. Your picture of what you deserve–supported by your attorney–may simply look too different from the one issued by the insurance company. In that case, you will have one last chance to reach a settlement before you have to go to court: mediation.
During mediation, you will have a chance to sit down with a mediator, and both sides will present their arguments regarding your settlement. The mediator will provide you with essential advice about what the court will likely assign, based on the evidence presented. The insurance company will issue a final settlement offer, often based on the mediator’s recommendations, and you can determine whether it fits your current needs.
Contact a Lawyer for Help with Your Catastrophic Injury Claim
Each catastrophic injury claim may look a little different, and catastrophic injury claims frequently involve complicated legal battles. Contact Pacific West Injury Law to learn more about your rights or to get a better picture of the catastrophic injury settlement timeline for your injuries.