A personal injury lawyer hears, at almost every initial meeting: “How long will my work injury case take?” The answer given is rarely satisfactory but should always be honest. The best answer I was given is: “as long as is necessary to achieve the best result for you.”
The real answer in terms of time is “I do not know or I cannot say for sure.”
Why that is the answer you are most likely to get?
When a work accident and/or work injury occurs it is normal for that person to want it to be over as quickly as possible. It is human nature to want bad and unpleasant things to be gone and over with. A good lawyer will, while s/he tries to resolve a case as quickly as practicable, focus on the ultimate goal, and that is the best result possible for you, not the quickest result possible!
There are many factors which contribute to how long a case will take. Probably the single biggest factor is the type and severity of the injury that is suffered as a result of the [work] incident. This is the case because it is normally not advisable to settle a case until the medical treatment associated with your case is done, or at a minimum, there is a known or final prognosis concerning your condition. Sometimes it is worth waiting for your injury to become more stable (e.g, you may develop further complications/injuries such as severe osteoarthritis).
A good lawyer does not settle a case for a specific amount until they know that they have all the necessary information to determine the maximum value.
The client [you] is not served if their case is settled quickly but for less than they might receive by waiting a little longer.
Ultimately the value of any case is based upon the actual damages and injuries that are suffered. This cannot be determined until the medical care is received and in most instances completed. Once completed then the lawyer has to actually get the medical records and reports from all the doctors and medical providers. This all takes time and can be very different from one case to the next.
A second significant factor in resolving a case is the insurance company that is representing the responsible party. Each workocver insurance company handles cases and claims differently. Some prefer to try and resolve cases early on while others try to drag every single case out to the bitter end. Some try to resolve certain types of claims whereas others have a corporate policy of taking every case to trial. In every case the insurance company’s goal is to try and pay the smallest amount possible. But the time frame in which an insurance company may make an offer is as varied as the number of companies that exist.
Another important factor is which law firm or lawyer represents the responsible party. Just like the different insurance companies, different law firms/lawyers have variable methods of handling cases which take different periods of time. Whether a case can be settled before the filing of a lawsuit is also a major factor. Once a lawsuit is filed and the courts become involved then there are many court mandated procedures that take time and which the parties sometimes do not have control over.
There are a host of other factors that all contribute to the complexity of this simple question. What is the prior history of the claimant; in which court and jurisdiction will the case be filed; will the other party be disputing liability or not; will necessary witnesses be cooperative…etc, etc…
Needless to say that this short article has only scratched the surface as to the great number of factors that are involved in answering the age old question of “How long will my case take.
As you may recall, I am yet to get through the Medical Panel for a permanent impairment assessment,and that 7 years after the injury! Until then, we’re unable to start the litigation. Hell, by the way things are looking I may get my due compensation age 50. And yes this is frustrating, especially when you are in desperate need of some compensatory money to keep the roof over your head and feed yourself.
The latest I heard yesterday at my cardiologist’s office, is that Xchanging has the balls to try and deny my emergency treatment and hospitalisation in the coronary care unit, when I suffered the heart attack and life threatening cardiac failure in the recovery rom, immediately following elective surgery to my arm, the original injury for which liability has long been accepted by Xchanging. Interestingly they also accepted liability for my massive heart failure as a direct complication of the shoulder surgery in 2007, yet they are trying to avoid liability for this very same complication, WTF. I had the displeasure of forking out $250 for my cardiac consult, money that I really don’t have… in the hope that I will be able to claim it back via Xchanging. Bloody vultures!
Also, given that I need a reverse shoulder prosthesis, does this mean that, once implanted, the Medical Panel (and Xchnaging) will consider my injury “unstable” because of the fact that I will need many future revisions during my life time as the prosthesis only has a short life span? All moneys (compo) they don’t have to pay now, get invested by the insurance company…you know what I mean, don’t you? That’s how they make their big bucks!
But, saying that, I also believe the best and correct answer is “as long as is necessary to achieve the best result for the client.”