If you are injured in an accident, it doesn’t take long for the stress of injuries and medical bills to compound to a point where everyday activities that used to come as second nature become difficult to do. That’s why it is important to consider representation by a personal injury lawyer who can help determine whether you should be compensated for the injuries and losses you suffered. But just how long might such a process take? We’ll walk you through the likely steps involved.
Personal Injury Timelines aren’t Set in Stone
First, understand that every case is unique. There is no set timeline or end date that you should expect with many factors involved like the severity of injury and the treatment that is required after the accident. Simply put, the less severe the injury or the less time it takes to fully heal, the less time it will likely take to settle the case. More serious injuries require more time to heal, more treatment, and thus a longer process to resolve legal matters.
Generally, there is a three-year statute of limitations in Wisconsin for personal injury cases and most wrongful death cases have a shortened two-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations does not prevent a case from lingering more than three years, though, so you still won’t be able to predict an end date. If the extent of an injured person’s injuries are not known before the expiration of the statute of limitations, or an agreement cannot be reached with the insurer, then a lawsuit must be filed to preserve the right to continue with the claim.
Understand the Impact of your Injury
It is very important that no claim be settled until the full extent of your injuries, and the impact those injuries will have on your life, are completely understood. Even if you think you are healing quickly, injured people often have a need for ongoing medical care that should be taken into account. Before settling a claim, you will also want to understand what, if any, medical expenses or other costs you may incur in the future as a result of your injuries. There can also be occasions where someone’s ability to work and earn a living is impacted by an injury, and it is important that the full extent of this potential loss is understood and appropriately included in the claims made. When future losses are expected, a personal injury attorney can help identify those damages and the broader impact of your injuries.
After knowing everything there is to know about your injury, the next step is agreeing to the personal injury settlement- the amount that the injured person is to be paid by the party responsible for the injury (typically through an attorney or insurer) so that the case can be resolved. The settlement amount is determined after both parties consider the evidence and estimate how much the case is worth. Both parties will then sign an agreement, and the injured person also signs legal documentation giving up the right to pursue a future lawsuit.
However, there can be situations where you may be able to settle with more than one party. For example, if the at-fault party was underinsured, you may have the right to pursue a further UIM claim. There are special notices that need to be provided to the UIM carrier in this instance, and you should not sign a general or full release if you believe you have additional claims to present to other parties. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you are not inadvertently waiving any of your rights.
When settling a personal injury claim, because of the possible inability to take future action, you must be 100% sure that your compensation is fair based on the circumstances of the accident. It can be tempting to take the first check you are offered to put the situation behind you, but unfortunately the insurance company offering you your check often does not have your best interest in mind and will try to offer you as little money as possible. You are never under an obligation to take your first offer; speak with a personal injury lawyer before accepting your settlement.
Receiving Compensation from a Personal Injury Settlement
Once the bulk of the work is completed and you wait to receive your compensation, here are some things to keep in mind. You should never give up the compensation you are entitled to just to expedite the process. You deserve to be fully healed when you return to work and regular activities. If during this process you are unable to return to work, it may be necessary to hire experts to help evaluate your future loss of earning capacity and earn it back through compensation.
Consulting with an Attorney
At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. we always have your best interests at heart and will help you get the compensation you deserve. Personal injuries are challenging to navigate for accident victims and their families, and we are dedicated to making the process as smooth as possible. Contact our personal injury attorneys to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.