How Long Does It Usually Take to Resolve an Injury Case?
This varies from case to case. Automobile accidents and general negligence personal injury claims typically take between six to eighteen months, but can take longer. Nursing home neglect cases tend to be more complicated and can take one to three years. Because we do not get paid until we receive a settlement or verdict on your behalf, it is in our best interest to keep your case moving forward as quickly as possible.
One of the reasons why personal injury claims can take a long time to resolve is that it is important to get a complete picture of the client’s injuries before discussing settlement. For example, it is common for a client to suffer from only mild to moderate spinal pain shortly after a car accident. That person might think the aches and pains will diminish and might think a few thousand dollars represents fair compensation.
In fact, insurance companies will often offer an injured person several thousand dollars within days of an accident to compensate for “inconvenience.” The danger here is that the release that the insurer requires the injured person sign waives all claims for injuries regardless of whether the injured person was aware of the full nature of his or her injuries at the time the release was signed. It is not uncommon for what seems to have been a relatively minor injury progress over time to the point that surgery is required. If such an injured person settled his or her claim early, the monetary and emotional toll of the surgery would not have been included.
Car accident claims typically require that the client reach “maximum medical improvement” before settlement can be discussed. This is due to the permanent injury requirement of Florida Statute § 627.737, which requires that a person suffer some degree of permanent injury in order to be entitled to make a recovery for pain and suffering. Because of this, unless the injuries are extremely severe, it is necessary to wait to see if medical care and time returns the client to baseline. The insurance companies are typically not interested in discussing settlement of any significance until they can evaluate whether the client will surpass the permanent injury requirement.
In Jacksonville, the courts are very busy and we usually cannot get a trial date on a judge’s calendar for at least ten months from the date the lawsuit is filed. Since lawsuits are only filed after settlement discussions have proven unproductive, it is common for a case to only go to trial two or more years after an accident.
Nursing home neglect and abuse cases take even longer to get to trial. This is, in part, because there are specific pre-suit requirements that must be satisfied before suit can be filed. First, the claim must be reviewed by a nurse. If that nurse finds that the nursing home failed to meet the nursing standards of care, then a pre-suit notice can be issued to the operators of the nursing home. After that, there is a 75 day period during which the plaintiff cannot file suit. This period is supposed to provide the parties the opportunity to exchange information and discuss the possibility for settlement; however, nursing home operators rarely do either. As such, this period does nothing but delay the process.