I’m often asked at the first meeting with clients:
how long will it take to settle the claim?
The best answer I can give is ‘it depends’. It depends on many factors:
- the extent of the injuries,
- the amount of therapy/treatment required,
- whether specialist intervention is needed (long wait times),
- response to therapy, relapses or aggravations of the injuries,
- type of injuries (whether they fall under the ‘Minor Injury Cap’ or not.
Anyone who tells an injured person that it will take ‘X’ months/years to settle their claim, it speaking out of turn. At the ‘acute’ stage of the injury (i.e. within the first few months after the accident) it is impossible to know when the injury claim will be settled.
Every case is unique and I work hard to ensure clients recognize that the legal process can be complicated and that injuries often take a long time to heal. My practice is to get involved in settlement discussions only once my clients have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). This will be when your treatment providers (and you) are satisfied that you are stable and will not benefit (improve) with further treatment or require further specialist intervention. In other words, you must be stable, and your treatment providers must be able to provide a medical ‘prognosis’ for your health/injuries into the future – typically health professionals will not be able to give a prognosis until you have reached MMI.
Once you have reached MMI, I like to have clients wait another 3 months, just to be sure that you are stable. My experience is that the three month buffer allows clients to have another Season to go through and potentially do different activities that may or may not rear problems with their injuries. I would then collect all of the medical information from your treatment providers, review your injuries with you and prepare a settlement proposal to go to the insurance company.