Why Is My Lawyer Taking So Long to Settle My Case?
Most personal injury lawsuits, about 95 percent of them to be exact, eventually settle out of court. As most of us know, “eventually” could be a long time.
Delays in the settlement process are inevitable. Insurance companies notoriously drag their feet in these situations. Each day they retain settlement money, they earn interest on those funds. So, the longer the process lasts, the less money the company loses. And, despite what TV commercials imply, the bottom line is all that matters to most insurance companies.
Furthermore, good negotiators never open with their best offers. That’s the way it works. So, a Tampa personal injury lawyer must persevere to obtain maximum compensation.
Establishing the Settlement Value
One-sided vehicle purchase negotiations usually take less than a day. Personal injury settlement negotiations take much longer, especially if a Tampa personal injury lawyer holds out for maximum compensation. That’s especially true since, at the beginning of a personal injury case, the settlement value (sticker price) is unknown.
A personal injury claim’s settlement value begins with medical expenses. So, until medical treatment is at least substantially complete, medical treatment expenses are a question mark.
Furthermore, doctors cannot estimate the need for future medical expenses until current treatment concludes. If a case settles too soon, the victim could be financially responsible for these future costs.
Other economic losses in a car crash or other personal injury claim include property damage and lost wages. Property damage is usually more than numbers on a bill. The family car has an emotional value that may exceed its financial value. Lost wage calculations must include current and future lost wages, or more properly, lost earning capacity.
To determine noneconomic damages, for items like emotional distress, most Tampa personal injury lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, mostly depending on the evidence and legal theories in the case. Other factors include the insurance company’s motivation to settle quickly (if any), probable jury makeup (liberal or conservative), and the victims motivation to settle quickly (if any).
Negotiating a Resolution
Medical treatment in a serious injury case may be substantially complete in under six months. Catastrophic (life-threatening) injuries usually have much longer recovery times. Once a lawyer determines the settlement value, informal negotiations usually begin.
Incidentally, lawyers don’t sit idly and wait for doctors to finish their work. In these early stages of a case, a lawyer is busy collecting evidence, developing legal theories, and anticipating possible insurance company defenses.
After a Tampa personal injury lawyer sends a demand letter, if liability (responsibility for injury) and damages (amount of compensation) are uncontested, the insurance company usually has a duty to make a reasonable settlement offer within weeks. However, very few injury cases are uncontested, especially once meticulous insurance company lawyers get involved.
Therefore, most injury claims settle much later in the process, usually during mediation. After a professional mediator reviews the case, s/he presides over a marathon negotiating session that usually lasts one day.
Insurance companies cannot make low-ball offers or take unreasonable stances during mediation. They have a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. Therefore, mediation almost always works, even if informal negotiations have broken down altogether.
Count on a Thorough Hillsborough County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.