If you’re facing a personal injury claim for the first time, you’re likely wondering how long it will take to obtain compensation. It’s a good question. But it’s not an easy one to answer.
Every personal injury claim is unique. Even cases with similar facts can take different amounts of time to resolve. The only way to learn what the personal injury timeline for your case might be is by turning to an experienced personal injury attorney for advice. Recovery Law Center can help.
Honolulu attorney Glenn Honda represents clients injured in all types of accidents on Oahu. Whether you were hurt in an auto accident, slip and fall accident, or another harmful incident, you can count on Recovery Law Center to fight for full and fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other losses.
You can speed up the personal injury process by getting a lawyer as soon as possible. Start now. Call or contact us to schedule a free consultation.
What Happens Immediately After My Accident?
The first thing you should do after you have been injured in an accident is to seek medical attention. No matter how minor you think your injuries may be, it’s critical that you go to an emergency room or make an appointment with your doctor. This will ensure your health and safety, but it also creates a medical record that links your injuries to the accident. Medical records are the foundations upon which personal injury claims are built.
If possible, you can also help your case by:
- Taking photos of visible injuries. Physical injuries heal in time, but pictures of what you suffered immediately after the accident can be powerful pieces of evidence in a personal injury claim.
- Keeping a journal. Write down what happened to the best of your ability. It’s OK if you don’t remember everything, or if you don’t know what happened. The memories you jot down now will be fresher than any account you try to give in the future.
- Contacting a personal injury lawyer. The sooner you meet with an attorney, the sooner the claims process can get underway. Your lawyer will begin investigating the case and putting together the evidence necessary to build a strong case for compensation.
Personal Injury Claim Timeline
The vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved out of court. In many cases, the parties are able to reach a settlement before a lawsuit even needs to be filed. However, it’s important to remember that cases evolve over time. What seems like a straightforward claim could become more complex as new evidence or other legal issues arise.
Once you’ve gotten medical treatment and hired an attorney, the personal injury timeline has several stages:
- Investigate the claim: Both your attorney and an adjuster from the insurance company will conduct initial investigations into the accident. This will include gathering medical records, wage statements, medical bills, background information, and anything else that is relevant to the accident and your injury.
- Insurance claim or settlement demand: Depending on the type of accident, you may seek compensation from an insurance company or directly from the at-fault party. In Hawaii car accidents, a claim will first be filed with your own no-fault auto insurance. If the accident occurred on someone else’s property, the claim might be filed against the person’s homeowners’ insurance policy. If no insurance company is involved, a demand letter will be issued directly to the liable party.
- Response: After the insurance company has investigated the claim, they may accept your settlement demand, reject it, or make a counter-offer. If the offer is unsatisfactory, you have the option of countering back. Negotiations can continue until you reach a mutual agreement. If one cannot be reached, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
- File a personal injury lawsuit: In Hawaii, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for compensation. Filing the suit may press the insurance company to make a better settlement offer before going to trial, which is the riskier option.
- Discovery: During this stage, both sides gather additional evidence to bolster their cases. Discovery also gives each side a chance to see the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s arguments.
- Mediation: Before going into the courtroom, both parties can try to resolve the dispute through mediation. In this process, you (and your personal injury attorney) will meet with the other party and an unbiased mediator. The mediator (usually a lawyer or judge) will listen to both sides and try to help them reach common ground. If this is impossible, the case is then scheduled for trial.
- Personal injury trial: Going to trial is the option of last resort for everyone. Trials take longer, cost more, and have an uncertain outcome. However, sometimes trials are the only way to get the compensation you are owed.
What Can Make a Case Take Longer to Settle?
Reaching a settlement may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. The No. 1 factor in the lifespan of your personal injury case is the severity of your injuries and the medical treatment needed to make you whole again. If you have sustained relatively minor injuries, there is a good chance of your case settling within a few months.
However, if you suffered severe or complicated injuries, your attorney may want to wait to file until your physician declares that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is a term your doctor will use to indicate that you’ve recovered as much as possible. It’s important to wait until you reach MMI so that your personal injury attorney can calculate how much your losses really are. Settle too soon, and you could miss out on compensation that you will dearly need in the future.
Other factors that could lengthen the personal injury timeline include:
- New legal issues: During discovery, the defense may uncover facts that can complicate your claim. It’s important to be honest with your attorney about anything that could impact your claim, even if you think it could be damaging.
- The case value: The more money is at stake, the more the insurance company will push back to avoid a payout.
- Going to trial: Trials take longer because of the extra preparation required, the time it takes to get the case scheduled, and the time it takes for a judge or jury to make a decision.
Your lawyer may be able to provide a general estimate of the personal injury timeline for you, but it’s important to be flexible about its progress. Both you and your attorney want the same thing — the most amount of compensation possible, as quickly as possible.
How Can My Lawyer Speed Up the Personal Injury Settlement Process?
A personal injury lawyer is not going to be able to do much to speed up the process if your case is simply not ready for settlement. For example, you may be still healing and recovering from your injuries. No lawyer would recommend rushing into a settlement if it has not been determined what the extent of your injuries and medical bills are.
However, a lawyer can help expedite negotiations with the insurance company. Insurers know that claimants who are represented by attorneys will have allies who understand what their cases are truly worth. That will make them less likely to lowball you from the beginning. But if your lawyer sees that negotiations will not bring about a fair settlement, he or she may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit sooner rather than later to save you time and money.
Your lawyer may also be able to speed things up during trial. Experienced attorneys know how to obtain the evidence needed with discovery, depositions, interrogatories, and other methods. They will also be prepared with the most effective and efficient strategy to litigate your case.
What Recovery Law Center Can Do for You
Recovery Law Center is prepared to take care of your physical, emotional, and financial needs after an accident. Honolulu personal injury attorney Glenn Honda provides top-quality legal services with a commitment to individualized attention. He will:
- Meet with you personally in a free consultation
- Identify all possible sources of compensation for you
- Document all of your losses and gather evidence to support your claim
- Work with doctors and experts to estimate the future expenses you may be facing
- Manage all communications and settlement negotiations with the insurance company(s)
- Take your lawsuit to trial if needed
At Recovery Law Center, we take pride in helping Hawai’i Residents whose lives have been upended due to someone else’s negligence. If you have been injured in an accident that was another party’s fault on Oahu, put Recovery Law Center to work for you.
Call or contact us now to arrange your free and confidential consultation.