Caught in a game of phone tag with the insurance company? Left in the dark about the status of your claim?
You’re not the only one. For some insurance adjusters, stalling is a strategy.
That’s right: some insurance companies will make you wait on purpose.
They know you need money now, and they’re hoping you get desperate enough to accept a lowball offer instead of holding out for what you truly deserve. For them, it’s business as usual to prey upon vulnerable accident victims like this.
To get the compensation you deserve, you need a New Orleans car accident lawyer. Hiring a lawyer shows the insurance adjusters you mean business and will not be pushed aside. For a risk-free case evaluation, call our New Orleans accident injury law firm at 800-898-4877 or visit our contact page to tell us your story.
To learn more about how long it takes to settle a personal injury case, read on below.
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How Long Does It Take to Settle A Personal Injury Case in Louisiana?
A personal injury case can take weeks, months, or years to settle.
Every one of our clients is unique, and so is every accident case. Each one will have its own timeline. The details and complexities of your case will play a part in determining how long it takes to settle.
Many different factors influence how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim. Here are just a few to take into consideration:
- What kind of accident you were involved in
- Whether or not a crime was committed
- Severity of injuries
- Length of recovery time
- Lost wages and time missed from work
- Amount of damages
- Number of at-fault parties
- Your state’s comparative fault rules
- Availability of evidence
- Availability of expert witnesses
- Liability disputes and mediation
- The types of offers you receive in the negotiation period
Some of these things are outside of your control. However, there’s one crucial step you can take to set yourself up for success: speak with a personal injury lawyer near you as soon as possible after an accident.
If you suffered minor injuries with clear proof, and the other side does not dispute your claims, the case could be settled in a matter of weeks. However, in the event the insurance company does not provide you with a fair settlement offer, you may need to file a lawsuit and turn up the heat.
A case that goes to trial may last a year or more, but trust us: patience pays.
How Does A Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?
Let’s start with the basics. All personal injury cases have four main components that must be proven:
- Duty of care: A person, business, or other entity owed a duty of care to another person. This means they were expected to behave reasonably and rationally to protect the wellbeing of those around them.
- Breach of duty: The at-fault party violated the duty of care by behaving recklessly or negligently.
- Causation: The negligent behavior caused someone else to get hurt.
- Damages: The injured victim suffered losses as a result of the breach of the duty of care.
When a person gets hurt in an accident because of someone else’s recklessness or negligent conduct, they may be able to recover compensation for their suffering. However, the “burden of proof” is on the injured victim, also known as the plaintiff. This means it’s up to the victim (and their lawyer) to prove all four elements of negligence by presenting supporting evidence.
Most of the time these matters are settled out of court, but sometimes you need to file a lawsuit to pursue the true value of your claim. An attorney can be a huge help with all the laborious legal business involved in this process, such as writing a personal injury demand letter, compiling evidence, and negotiating with insurance adjusters.
Let’s take a look at how the process plays out:
#1. First Meeting & Consultation
A personal injury lawyer will meet with you—by phone, by virtual video call, or in person—and provide a free case evaluation. You will answer questions about the accident, your injuries, your expenses, and more.
If you both want to move forward with a claim, you will be asked to sign a retainer agreement. Since we work on a contingency fee basis, you will pay us nothing upfront. The retainer agreement will specify the fee amount that your attorney will take from the final settlement, but we will only get paid if you get paid!
#2. Filing the Claim
Your personal injury lawyer will reach out to insurance companies and any other relevant parties to let them know we are representing you. We will make phone calls and send letters in order to report your accident and officially file your claim.
#3. Medical Treatment & Evidence Collection
Your New Orleans personal injury lawyer and their team will collect evidence to strengthen your case. This includes photos, police reports, witness testimonies, medical records, surveillance footage, and much more.
You will also undergo any necessary medical treatments. Our primary goals are to preserve your health, determine liability, and prove your losses.
#4. Writing A Demand Letter
Once they obtain copies of your medical records and have a better understanding of your diagnosis and future prognosis, the attorney will submit a settlement demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The demand letter outlines all of your accident-related damages, and demands compensation for them. The at-fault party will accept or reject the demand or make a counteroffer.
How long after a demand letter does settlement take? Most insurance companies will make an offer within 30 days of receiving the demand letter, but there’s no guarantee the offer will be fair. You and your attorney can discuss the offer and decide whether or not you wish to settle or try to negotiate a higher offer.
Remember, for the most accurate estimate and the best chance at a satisfactory settlement, all recommended medical treatments must be completed before your demand letter is submitted. This includes physical therapy, and this process may take multiple months. To determine how long it will take to settle your case, ask your doctor how long they expect you will require treatment and rehabilitation for your injuries.
#5. Offers & Negotiations
If you receive a counteroffer to your demands, your lawyer will begin negotiating your settlement, updating you every step of the way. Once you and the at-fault party’s insurance company agree on a settlement amount, you will be required to sign a release of all claims. This agreement prohibits you from seeking any further compensation, no matter what complications you encounter in the future.
Next, your New Orleans personal injury lawyer will submit a settlement package to the insurance company. The settlement package will include vital evidence and proof of your suffering, as well as a summary of your expenses.
#6. Filing a Lawsuit
If a fair settlement cannot be reached, you can file a lawsuit. While the majority of personal injury claims are settled without a trial, our team is always prepared to go to court and fight for you.
A lawsuit begins with a document called a complaint, which identifies the plaintiff and the defendant and summarizes the claim. The complaint also includes a demand for judgment, asking that the defendant pay damages. The defendant must be properly served with a copy of the lawsuit. They will receive a court summons. Next, the defendant has a set amount of time to respond to the complaint with another document known as an “answer,” wherein they will admit or deny fault.
#7. Discovery & Mediation
The discovery period is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit where both sides investigate the facts of the case. Your lawyer prepared most of this already during the “evidence collection” period.
Before or after a lawsuit is filed, a neutral mediator may enter into your negotiations and attempt to facilitate a satisfactory settlement. If mediation does not work, the case proceeds to trial.
#8. The Trial
At trial, both sides have a chance to present evidence and argue their case in front of a judge and jury. Since the plaintiff has the burden of proof, the victim and their legal team will present evidence to the court first.
Next, the at-fault party will present evidence to try to counter your claims. The jury reaches a verdict and the judge reads it out loud. The verdict addresses who was liable for the accident. It also specifies the amount of damages the victim is entitled to and awards this money to them.
The at-fault party may request an appeal, where the verdict will be reviewed by a higher court and may potentially be overturned if any errors in the legal process are found. (There is no jury in an appellate court; instead, multiple judges take a look at the facts from the previous trial.)
#9. Settlement Check Disbursement
Whether you settled out of court or were awarded damages by a judge, there’s money coming your way! After your law firm has deducted their agreed-upon attorney fees, other legal expenses, and liens for any unpaid bills, you will receive your compensation in the form of a settlement check.
If all of this sounds daunting, don’t worry! Through the past 20 years, we’ve helped thousands of New Orleans accident victims recover. We handle it all so you can focus on healing from your injuries.
How Long Does The Insurance Company Have to Settle A Claim in New Orleans?
Typically, an insurance company has 30 days to submit a written offer to settle an insurance claim. This 30 day period begins on the day they receive proof of the victim’s losses. (Your New Orleans personal injury lawyer will submit this proof to the insurance company via a demand package.)
How Long Does It Take to Receive A Fair Settlement Offer?
The answer to this question depends on your lawyer’s negotiating skills.
Beware! Often, an insurance company’s first offer will be insultingly low. They’ll try to pressure you to take it or claim that it is a limited-time offer. You might not know how much money you’re entitled to, or what mistakes to avoid, but it’s our job to!
In a personal injury claim, your losses and expenses are called “damages.” These damages are expressed via personal injury demand letters sent to the insurer. Your lawyer will keep track of your accident-related expenses and fight for a fair settlement offer that will cover all of your damages, but there’s no guarantee how long it will take. Insurance companies can be stubborn and stingy.
When Should I File A Lawsuit?
Not all cases go to court. In fact, most personal injury cases settle out of court.
Still, you should be prepared for all possibilities. Choose a New Orleans personal injury law firm with litigation experience. Choose an attorney who is not afraid to stand up for you in court and fight hard for every penny you deserve.
No one wants to take their case to court, but sometimes it’s necessary. Consider filing a lawsuit if:
- The defendant is stubborn and unwilling to settle
- The defendant is offering an unfairly low settlement amount
- The plaintiff may be entitled to punitive damages
Louisiana Statute of Limitations
Personal injury claims are subject to a time limit known as the statute of limitations. The length of this time limit varies by state, but the Louisiana statute of limitations for personal injury claims is one year from the date of the accident. (A year may seem like a long time, but keep in mind your attorney needs time to thoroughly investigate, compile evidence, and build a strong case.)
If the deadline is approaching soon or if it seems like it will take longer than a year to settle, your lawyer will file a lawsuit in order to meet the statute of limitations in Louisiana accident cases. This ensures you won’t miss your opportunity to obtain compensation. To learn more about your options, contact an experienced New Orleans personal injury lawyer today.
How Long Does it Take to Receive My Settlement Check?
To officially accept an offer from an insurance company, you will need to sign an accident settlement agreement. After this agreement is signed, it can take another six weeks to receive the settlement check. Your lawyer will pay off any medical bills or liens related to your case, then they’ll deduct their legal fees and disburse the rest of the settlement money to you.
What Percentage of A Settlement Does a Lawyer Get?
Now that you’ve learned more about their workload, are you wondering how do personal injury lawyers get paid?
Here’s some good news: You pay nothing up front. Most personal injury lawyers work for a contingency fee, earning a set percentage deducted from a client’s final settlement.
Typical Louisiana lawyer percentages one third—or 33.3%—of the total settlement amount.
To Maximize Your Settlement, Speak with A New Orleans Accident Injury Lawyer
How long does it take to settle a personal injury case in New Orleans? Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer. We can only leave you with this advice:
Be patient. Don’t rush the process. It is imperative that you complete all recommended medical treatments and therapy. If you don’t, the insurance company will try to say you aren’t actually hurt. Don’t give them any chances to invalidate you or diminish the worth of your claim. (Plus, when calculating your pain and suffering damages the multiplier method might be used, but if the daily rate method is used, patience will really pay off!)
Be honest. Never lie about your pain levels in an attempt to rush through treatment. Remember, when you agree to a settlement offer, you waive your right to pursue any additional compensation in the future. You want to be certain you have a clear picture of how the accident has affected your life, and you want to avoid dealing with chronic health issues later on down the line.
A diligent investigation takes time, but a personal injury attorney can unearth vital evidence and help you maximize your recovery. Get started today! For a free consultation, call 800-898-4877 or visit our contact page. Our experts are here for you 24/7.
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Louisiana Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
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What Percentage Do Car Accident Lawyers Take in Louisiana?
What Kind of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle in Louisiana?
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