After an accident, you want to win your lawsuit or obtain a settlement as quickly as possible. But, the reality is that unless you are willing to settle for less than your case is worth, you need to give your attorney time to get a fair settlement for you. It could be months or years before you receive an award and get the money you need to pay your medical bills or living expenses. Knowing what to expect when you file a suit can help you better plan for the months and years in the meantime.
How long your medical treatment takes depends on your injuries, but two things are particularly important when it comes to treatment after an accident. One is that you see a doctor for treatment right away. Doing so makes it easier to connect your injuries to the accident and minimizes the chance that the insurance company has a legitimate reason to question whether or not your injury is actually related to the accident.
The other thing is to wait to file your lawsuit until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), the point at which you’re as healed or as recovered as you’ll ever be. Waiting until you’re at MMI to file your suit means that there won’t be any surprise additional treatments that will increase your medical bills after you’ve already filed. While you do want to wait for MMI to file, you don’t want to wait to find a lawyer. While you recover, the lawyer can begin to do research to see if you have a legitimate case. Keep in mind the statute of limitations for filing. In Georgia, for example, you have two years after an injury to file a lawsuit.
You don’t go to trial right after the lawsuit is filed and everyone is served. Instead, there is a discovery process, during which your attorney and the insurance company’s attorney do what they can to learn the facts of the case and to strengthen their argument. The discovery process might involve having a medical examination conducted by a doctor chosen by the insurance company, being deposed by your attorney and the opposing attorneys and answering written questions. Although the exact length of the discovery process varies, it can typically take anywhere from a few months to a full year.
Negotiations, Mediation or Trial
After discovery, your attorney and insurance company’s attorney might try to negotiate a settlement. If they can’t reach an agreement on their own, mediation might be required, which involves having a neutral third party listen to the facts of the case and make recommendations. Although mediation might only take one day, the process of negotiating can take several months.
If negotiation doesn’t work out, the case can move to trial. It might be months before your trial date and it’s possible for the date to change, based on the judge’s schedule. Once you get into the courtroom, a personal injury trial can last anywhere from a day to several months.
It can be a few years before you a see a penny of your award or settlement. If you’re concerned about making ends meet or covering your bills while you wait for trial, pre-settlement funding can help. It’s a non-recourse cash advance, usually between 10 and 15 percent of your expected settlement. You only repay it if you win. To learn more about your funding options and for details on the application process, contact Cherokee Funding today.