The answer depends primarily on two factors:
1. How much liability insurance coverage is available?
2. How long does your medical treatment take?
For example, in a case where there is only $10,000 of insurance coverage available and the patient went to the hospital immediately and racked up $7,000 in medical bills, the settlement will likely occur very quickly. Possibly in as little as 2-4 months.
In contrast, if there is a million dollars worth of insurance coverage available and you have a soft tissue injury that requires months of chiropractic care followed by orthopedic/neurological care and possibly surgery, the case will not be best positioned for settlement until much of the medical care is completed.
Insurance companies do not often give money in settlements for medical care that is “possible” to occur in the future for the same reason you probably won’t pay for a new engine in your car just because it is a possibility it will be needed in the future.
If you are anxious to settle early, that can always be done but it will likely be a lower settlement that could be attained once the bulk of your medical care is complete.
Your doctors will let you and your attorney know when your condition has reached “maximum medical improvement.”
This is the point where ongoing treatment will help Maintain your symptoms but will not substantially improve it.
It’s like taking allergy medication during pollen season. The medication helps maintain the symptoms but the underlying allergies are still there.
When you reach maximum medical improvement from a chiropractic, orthopedic and neurologic standpoint it is often the right time to make a settlement demand to the insurance company.
The settlement demand usually has a deadline of 10-30 days for the insurance company to respond.
The response letter usually starts a series of negotiations and often settles cases.
If settlement can not be reached at that time, a lawsuit will ensue.
There are three times when settlement is most likely during a lawsuit:
1. Right after the lawsuit is filed
2. At mediation
3. Just before trial
The length of time it takes to get to mediation and trial is dependent on the complexities of each particular case. Most personal injury cases, if litigated aggressively, can make it to trial in one year to 1.5 years.