Why Does a Lawsuit Take So Long?
I hear this a lot from clients. As a personal injury lawyer in Arkansas who represents seriously injured people, I am all too familiar with this concern. Because I am right there with my clients throughout the entire process, I certainly understand the concern, and I do my best to explain every stage of the process to put my clients’ minds at ease.
From the time of injury until the final resolution, a couple years can pass. The process can be slow and frustrating. Undoubtedly, insurance companies and large corporations operate under the belief that time is on their side. So, there is definitely an effort by these companies to delay every step of the process. Many insurance companies operate under the idea that over time, the victim will become desperate and look to settle their case for likely less than it is truly worth. That is why it is so important to hang in there.
Oftentimes, people are still recovering from their injuries during the process. Typically, an injured client’s source of income has either been cut off completely or they are waiting for some source of limited disability income. In the meantime, the bills keep coming in. It is with this backdrop and the associated stress and anxiety that the delay can be even more frustrating.
Before the Lawsuit
In order to successfully bring an injury claim, we have to take several steps. Each step takes some time.
First, we have to get police or accident reports. Then, we have to request and gather medical records and bills for all treatment associated with a client’s injuries. Next, we have to be sure an injured client has completed treatment before we even attempt to evaluate the case.
For example, if a client is still under a doctor’s care, we will still need to know not only the final amount of medical bills, but also whether a client will have any permanent disabilities or limitations. As you can imagine, this process takes time. Depending on the severity of the injuries, it can take months or even years before the doctors and therapists reach a point where they can state a client is at “maximum medical improvement,” meaning that our client is as recovered as they are ever going to be from the injuries. It is only when we reach this point that we can evaluate our clients’ claims.
Sometimes at this point, a settlement can be reached with the insurance company. However, that is only if the insurance company offers a fair value for a client’s injuries. If not, then a lawsuit must be filed, which begins another time-consuming process.
After Filing a Lawsuit
Once a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will hire a defense lawyer, who will then work up the case. This process includes the exchange of records between us and the defense lawyer and taking depositions of parties and other witnesses. Sometimes, the case must be tried in front of a jury in court. In some jurisdictions, depending on the court’s caseload, it can take up to a year from the date a lawsuit is filed to even get a trial date scheduled.
At Hare Wynn, we work up each case from the start as if it is going to trial. Some lawyers will simply present medical bills to an insurance company and hope they can get a settlement. We don’t work that way. A client’s lawsuit is their one chance to be compensated for their injuries. We have one shot. We take this seriously, which is why we work up cases early. We get to the accident scene. We bring investigators and experts to make evaluations and reports from the outset.
Sometimes during the initial stage of bringing a claim, insurance companies will deny the claim altogether by alleging the victim was at fault. In these cases, we are ready and able to keep the case moving because we have already evaluated and worked up the case to prove our client was not at fault.
Why Patience is a Virtue
Even though we work up every single case quickly and do everything we can to speed up the process, it simply takes time. If you are the injured person in the middle of this unfortunate situation, you can rest assured that we are working on your case as if it was our own. During an already difficult and trying time, we do whatever we can to help our clients through the process.
When our clients are injured, we know there is only one chance to recover for all that our clients have endured. It takes time to do things the right way. At Hare Wynn, we do things the right way, every time.