Will I Have To Sue Anyone for a Personal Injury?
If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, there is no guarantee that you will ever have to file a lawsuit to obtain the compensation you deserve. Most injury lawsuits ultimately settle, and a large number of those settlements occur before a lawsuit is ever filed.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict if your claim will settle quickly or require the filing of a lawsuit. While your Los Angeles personal injury lawyers can advise you on what to expect from your claim, no one can tell you with certainty that you will avoid a lawsuit entirely.
It is helpful to adjust your expectations before ever moving forward with an injury claim. Your case might not go to trial or even require a lawsuit. However, you should prepare for the possibility of both of those things.
Settling a claim before filing suit
Much of the work of resolving a personal injury lawsuit through settlement occurs before it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. This process starts with a document known as a demand letter. When your personal injury lawyer takes your case, their first step will be to identify potential defendants and determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to recover. After this investigation is complete, your attorney will send a demand letter to the at-fault party or their insurance company.
The demand letter will outline your theory of liability. It will also demand a specific amount of compensation for your claim. In exchange for paying the amount of compensation requested in your demand letter, the defendant will require that you waive your right to ever bring a lawsuit based on this specific claim.
In some cases, the demand letter is enough to bring about a quick settlement. When liability is clear, some insurance companies prefer to resolve a case in short order. It is not unusual for these cases to settle in a matter of weeks following the issuance of the demand letter.
Reasons a case might not settle
Some cases are not destined to settle before the filing of a lawsuit. There are a variety of reasons why settlement might not be an option. The most obvious example is the defendant’s firm belief that they were not responsible for your injury. If they deny liability entirely, there is a chance they will never accept a settlement of any kind.
Some cases do not settle because the defendant lacks the ability to pay for your damages. This is most common in cases where the defendant does not have an insurance policy to rely on. Collecting from these defendants can be challenging without the guidance of dedicated personal injury attorneys.
Other cases will not settle due to insurance policy limits. The insurance companies are only responsible for liability claims against their insured drivers up to the limits in the policy. Anything above or beyond that amount is the responsibility of the defendant. Many defendants in this situation choose to take the case to trial with their insurance company provided attorney instead of agreeing to any personal liability for an injury.
The deadline to file a lawsuit
You should always be aware of the legal deadlines that apply to your personal injury lawsuit. Settlement negotiations can drag on for weeks, and insurance companies are usually willing to accept any form of delay. The longer you wait, the longer you risk problems with the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is the legal deadline the courts apply to every lawsuit. If you file your claim after the statute expires, you will miss out on the ability to pursue your claim forever. The statutory period is different in every state. In California, the statute of limitations expires two years from the date of the accident.
Speak with an attorney about filing suit
Your attorney could provide you with a better understanding of what to expect during the claims process. If you have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact Ellis Injury Law right away for a free consultation.