What Should I Do When a Settlement is Taking Too Long?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
When you’ve been in an auto accident and are filing a personal injury lawsuit for damages incurred, it’s understandable to want the process to move as quickly as possible.
You may be in urgent need of compensation to pay for things like medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, or require continuing financial support due to having reached maximum medical improvement and will never be fully recovered to the extent you can return to work.
You may, however, file a lawsuit but eventually get to a stage where you start to feel the process is taking too long. This can result in frustration compounding the stress from the auto accident. To avoid disappointment and undue distress, you must set realistic expectations when moving ahead with a lawsuit.
Personal injury cases can take a long time, depending on the complexity of the case. The negotiations your attorney is conducting on your behalf with insurance companies, and others require patience.
While you should be mindful that delays may be beyond your attorney’s control, you might also reach a point where you feel like you’d like to switch attorneys.
It’s your right to switch attorneys as the client, especially if you feel like your attorney is not transparent with you about the proceedings. However, you should still consider the following factors.
How Long Should a Personal Injury Case Take?
There is no concrete timeline for settling a personal injury case. It usually takes a few months, but it can be anywhere from several weeks to years. The main hurdles are often the size of the car accident settlement and the complexity of the case. A wrongful death lawsuit may take even longer to settle than, for example, an undue stress lawsuit, because the consequences for the plaintiff and the defendant can be so serious. These types of cases are usually expected to take months or even years.
It’s completely understandable when frustration arises, not least when continuing medical bills and a general lack of finances makes the matter urgent. However, in most car accident cases, it takes time to reach a fair settlement because your attorney is trying to get you the maximum compensation.
Factors That Can Delay a Settlement
Several recurring factors often account for delays in reaching a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit. One of the most common is when your attorney is in protracted negotiations with auto insurance companies regarding your no-fault insurance benefits.
Insurance providers often try to claim that you were at least partially at fault for a car accident in an attempt to reduce the compensation they offer you. Each side will seek to use insurance laws to their advantage, increasing the duration of the negotiations process.
Compounding this, the facts in the case may be complex and hard to establish beyond a reasonable doubt, requiring additional investigation and witness testimony to ascertain your innocence.
There may also be other factors beyond anyone’s control. Estimates of total damages, including injury claims and damage to your motor vehicle or other property, can take weeks to compile. Once there is a firm number for the economic damages you’ve suffered, your attorney will likely have to undergo a preliminary round of negotiations with the insurance company, as their first settlement offer will likely be too low.
You may also still be in the process of healing from your injuries, making it impossible at this point for doctors to say definitively what your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) has been. Without this, it’s difficult to predict exactly what the extent of your medical care expenses and loss of income from injury-related impediments to work will be when filing settlement claims.
What Should I Do if My Lawyer is Taking Too Long to Get Me a Settlement?
Many accident victims are left wondering, what should I do if my auto accident lawyer takes too long to get a settlement? You have a few options if you are no longer feeling confident in your legal counsel.
It’s important to remain in constant communication with your attorney throughout the settlement process. Your lawyer should be easy to get a hold of and get back to you in a timely manner. This ensures they are attentive, transparent about where they’re at in the process and means you can provide them with new information if additional memories about the accident surface for you later. You should expect to be keyed into every aspect of the case and the status of your attorney’s negotiations.
If your settlement is taking a long time and your attorney is not communicating with you effectively about why – you may want to consider switching to a law firm that puts you first.
Can You Switch Lawyers in the Middle of a Car Accident Case?
Weigh your decision carefully. If you decide to go ahead and switch to another attorney, you’ll have to do your due diligence in researching the new law firm to ensure they can meet your needs.
If you signed a contingency agreement with your current attorney, you may worry that you will have to pay a penalty for switching. This is typically not the case; your new and old attorney will simply split the contingency amount they are owed accordingly, based on the amount of work they completed.
Can I Change My Lawyer before Settlement?
It is your legal right to switch attorneys whenever you want to do so, even if your current attorney says you are close to settlement.
If you select a personal injury lawyer that dedicates more time to your case and offers better communication, making the change can benefit you. Your former lawyer will have to submit the case records to your current lawyer so they can pick up wherever the case left off.
If you decide to go ahead, you need to make the switch official. You do this by writing and certified letter informing your current law firm that you are transitioning to another firm. Be sure to hire your new attorney before delivering the letter, so you have representation, but do inform your old attorney of the move in advance.
Personal Injury Attorneys With an Impeccable Record
If you live in Michigan and are considering switching law firms because you have issues with your current attorney, contact the car accident lawyers at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation. We have decades of experience with personal injury claims related to car accidents and other reasons for our clients across the state and have an excellent track record. Our Michigan auto accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid when we win your case.
If you’re having doubts about your current legal representation and want to explore your options, call our law firm today at 866-466-9912 for a no-obligation, free consultation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.