How Long Will My Personal Injury Case Take?
The length of your case depends on your circumstances. Has the insurance company from which you are seeking recovery denied your claim? Have you completed medical treatment for injuries related to the claim? Have you determined whether any future care will be necessary? Sometimes there are multiple insurance companies who may have some responsibility for your injury. This can lead to finger-pointing by the insurance companies and can delay resolution of your claim short of filing a lawsuit.
The timing of making your claim or filing a lawsuit may affect the outcome and value of your claim. It is usually important to finish treating with your medical providers if your injury requires long-term treatment. Ideally, you want to be deemed to be at maximum medical improvement before you attempt to resolve your claim. This is important for two reasons. First, you know the full extent of your medical bills and can work to recover full compensation for those bills. Second, you are better able to determine whether your injury is permanent, and what future medical treatment you may need given the permanency of your injury.
Often, pre-litigation claims can be resolved within one to three months after you have finished treatment and a demand is made on the insurance carrier. The insurance carrier may request that you provide medical records for time periods prior to your injury, or, the carrier may request that you agree to an independent medical evaluation. An independent medical evaluation is conducted by a doctor hired by the insurance company. We strongly recommend that you not agree to these requests without seeking legal counsel first.
Although a majority of claims settle without the need to file a lawsuit, some claims will require that a lawsuit is filed. If a lawsuit is filed, the case may take one to three years to resolve. The resolution of a lawsuit depends highly on the court’s docket and the resolve of the insurance company to fight your claim. The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure provide a series of deadlines once a case is filed. The deadlines allow for each party to conduct discovery, which is a chance to take depositions (statements under oath) of parties to the lawsuit and any witnesses, if appropriate. This allows each side to evaluate the claims and defenses. Often times, the court will require the parties to attend a mediation and most lawsuits settle in mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, however, then the case will proceed to a trial.