New clients often will ask us how long it will be until they can expect to reach a settlement.
Unfortunately, that is one question that we can never answer at the beginning of a case. That’s because personal injury cases generally revolve around physical injuries and people heal at different rates of speed. As such, any kind of initial estimate as to when settlement can be reached would be no more than a guess.
It’s important to understand that in almost all cases, you don’t want to settle your claim until your medical treatment is complete or you have been told there is no further treatment available. This is because when you settle a North Carolina personal injury claim, you will have to sign a Release in exchange for settlement money. The Release will prohibit you from asserting any further claims after the settlement is reached. Therefore, if you were to settle your claim, sign a release, and then need later treatment, you would be out of luck.
Here are some examples of how this plays out in real life:
Example 1: John is involved in a collision in Hickory in January. He initially goes to the emergency room and then sees his primary doctor and gets some chiropractic treatments. In February, about a month after the wreck, John feels better than he was following the wreck but is still in some pain. John decides to settle his case in February. John then signs a Release and, in exchange, gets settlement money. Unfortunately, in March, John’s pain gets even worse. He goes back to Catawba Valley Medical Center and eventually finds out that he will need surgery to correct the problem. In this example, John would not get compensated for the surgery, the additional pain, suffering, or anything else occurring after he signed the Release. That’s because the Release cuts off any future liability on the part of the person who caused the wreck and their insurance company. Compare this to the more thoughtful approach in Example 2.
Example 2: John is involved in a collision in Hickory in January. He initially goes to the emergency room and then sees his primary doctor and gets some chiropractic treatments. In February, about a month after the wreck, John feels better than following the wreck but is still in pain. However, unlike in Example 1, John decides to wait to settle his case until he gets back to how he felt before the collision. John waits until he completely heals from his surgery before attempting to settle his case. In this example, John’s settlement is for a substantially more considerable amount, including the March surgery and the pain and suffering associated with that surgery.
As you can see, the patience by John in Example 2 resulted in a much larger settlement. Unfortunately, at the beginning of a case, we don’t know whether you’ll be as good as new in a month or a year. Two people can suffer the exact injury and yet have drastically different recoveries. As such, it is crucial that you not rush your settlement and wait until your body has fully recovered from your injuries.
At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we keep track of our clients’ treatments and work with our clients to make sure we find the right time to settle every case. Let us do the same for you. Call on our experienced car accident lawyers in Hickory, NC to help fight your case.