How Long Will It Take to Settle My Austin Personal Injury Claim?
If you’ve suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligent or careless acts, you have the legal right to pursue justice and compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. While it’s only natural to feel immediate pressure for financial help to combat unexpected medical bills and missed time from work, a personal injury lawsuit can take time to play out.
How much time? The short answer is that it depends on certain aspects of your case. It could take a few months or a few years. Even if it’s a simple car accident case or a complicated wrongful death lawsuit, there are many variables that could affect how long it takes for there to be a resolution.
Even though there’s no set average time for a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, being able to secure a fair settlement takes less time than taking the case all the way to trial. However, there are benefits to both decisions.
What Are the Steps of a Personal Injury Claim in Texas?
It’s important to see a licensed doctor as quickly as possible after the accident. In addition to treatment, your doctor’s office visit will launch an important paper trail of your injuries. This is vital to the first step of your personal injury claim.
Step 1: Gather information about your accident.
This step usually begins during the initial meeting with your personal injury lawyer. To start, your attorney will go over specifics of your situation, including:
- Date of the accident
- Conditions of the accident scene (for example, if you were in a car accident, driving conditions at the time are important)
- Diagnosis of your injuries and what type of treatment is needed for a full recovery
- Documents related to your case – police and medical reports, evidence of your loss of wages, etc.
- Witness contact information
This part of the process can take some time, so it’s best to come to your first meeting with as much information as possible.
Step 2: The start of settlement talks.
The insurance provider of the person who caused the accident may actually initiate this step soon after you were hurt. Their goal is to convince you to settle for as little as possible, and as quickly as possible. There are steps you can take to improve your settlement after receiving a lowball offer.
We understand the temptation to take their money right away – and that’s your right. Keep in mind, though, that if you agree to a settlement at this stage, you’re likely agreeing to accept a mere fraction of what your case is actually worth.
The pressure to accept a settlement can be intense because insurance reps are professional negotiators. Most accident victims simply are incapable of making a well-informed long picture decision while they are recovering from their injuries.
That’s why it’s best to let your personal injury attorney negotiate on your behalf. Your lawyer will know all the tricks insurance negotiators use and will be in a much better position to protect you legally.
Remember, you’ll likely receive settlement offers throughout the process. As the victim, it’s your decision on whether to accept.
Step 3: Filing a lawsuit and conducting discovery.
If you’re not happy with what’s been offered as a settlement, your lawyer will continue to prepare for trial and file your lawsuit with the court.
During this time, both sides will most likely send questions back and forth in search for more information. This step is known as the “discovery process,” and can include depositions and exams by a doctor selected by the other side.
Step 4: Going to trial.
Once all the information is collected and the papers have been filed, it’s time to go to court. This part of the process is straight forward – here’s what to expect if your personal injury case goes to trial.
If it’s a jury trial, a pool of jurors will be selected by your lawyer and the lawyer representing the person or organization that caused your injuries.
As the victim, your side of the story is heard first. This will include witness testimony and the introduction of evidence. After your attorney questions the witnesses, it’s the other lawyer’s turn.
When both sides have presented their arguments, the jury or judge will then deliver their ruling.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Case in Texas?
Here in the Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file your personal injury claim, for most cases. If you wait longer than that, your case will be automatically dismissed.
In some cases, the statue of limitations is different, and therefore the time you have to file a personal injury claim is different.
How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
In most personal injury cases, victims are able to receive compensation to cover things like:
- Lost earnings
- Medical bills already sustained, as well as for expected continued treatment
- Decrease in the ability to earn a living
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
The exact amount will vary from one case to another.