This is one of the most common questions I am asked in an initial client meeting. The answer is as different as every case, and every client. While it is impossible to predict when a case will be succesfully resolved, the issues and events that need to occur before a successful outcome can be reached are easily explained and described.
First, your case can be settled at any time. All you need to do is say: "I want my case settled." Of course, this works only if you are not interested in getting the best possible settlement, or if you are willing to take whatever an insurance company is willing to offer at the time, fair or not.
Before a case can be settled for a fair figure, your injuries need to be diagnosed and treated by your doctor. The faster your injuries resolve, the faster we can evaluate your case for settlement. An injury that heals in a few weeks can be resolved faster than an injury that takes months or years to resolve. You do not want to discuss settlement unless and until you are confident that your injury is resolved and that your doctor can tell you what kind of medical care you are likely to need in the future. Residual problems that can plague you for years require a plan for the future, and money. You short change yourself and leave money on the table if you do not make sure that you will be taken care of now and in the future.
Once the injury is resolved, we gather proof of your losses incurred as a result of your injuries. This includes medical bills, both past and future, loss of income, both past and future, and other out of pocket expenses or losses. We also evaluate your general damages for pain, discomfort, suffering, disfigurement, disability and any impairment your injuries cause in your daily work and living routine. How your injuries affected your life is an extremely important element of your claim. Once this information is gathered, a settlement demand is prepared and sent to the insurance company. They are usually given 30 days to respond to the demand. Typically settlement negotiations follow, and if a fair offer is made, your case can be settled.
If an insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, and if you agree to take the next step, a lawsuit will be filed. Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean your case will go to trial. The goal of the lawsuit is to force the insurance company to provide all reasons for their failure to make a fair offer, to demonstrate to them that you have the evidence to prove your claims and the willingness to go to trial if necessary, and to have the court set a trial date so that if the insurance company continues to refuse to make a fair offer, you can have your day in court and have a jury force them to pay you what is fair. Most cases do not go to trial. But the threat of litigation, and taking the steps necessary to bring an insurance company or a defendant before a jury is necessary to force unfair and unreasonable insurance companies to pay their obligations to injury victims.