Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline
Personal injury attorneys are often asked, “How long do personal injury cases take?” It’s a legitimate question. Unfortunately, it’s also one with no universal answer.
No two injury claims are the same. The facts matter. Cases with similar circumstances could end up with very different outcomes. At Warnett Hallen LLP, we’ve seen it happen many times before.
During an initial consultation with some attorneys, you may be provided with an estimated timeline for a personal injury lawsuit. But that should never be taken as a guarantee. Cases evolve as investigations deepen, and that can affect the length of time it takes for your case to resolve.
Does that mean you’re looking at years of litigation? Not necessarily. Find the answers you’re looking for by arranging a free consultation with one of the experienced Vancouver personal injury attorneys at Warnett Hallen LLP.
Call or contact us today to arrange your free case review.
What Happens Immediately After My Accident?
There are several steps you can take after your accident to protect your legal rights. Following these suggestions may also help expedite your claim for compensation.
- Seek medical treatment: Your health should be your main priority. A doctor will understand what injuries to look for and how to treat them. Get an examination right away so that insurance companies do not argue that you worsened your injuries by failing to seek medical care.
- Take photos of the accident scene: Physical evidence always strengthens the value of your personal injury claim. Take pictures of anything that you believe is relevant to the case. For example, it’s always important to get photos of the damage to your vehicle after a car accident. Also take pictures of any supporting evidence, such as skid marks, broken glass, or other factors that contributed to the crash.
- Report the accident: You must also report the accident to the appropriate party. If you were in a car crash, that means contacting local police as well as the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). If you were hurt on someone else’s property, you should also contact the owner or manager of the premises.
- Talk to a knowledgeable Vancouver personal injury lawyer: Speak to an attorney before providing any statements to insurance companies. Claims representatives will record any statements you make, and a lawyer will ensure that you are not being manipulated with tricky questions that could limit your access to fair compensation.
At Warnett Hallen LLP, our proven attorneys handle a broad range of personal injury claims. If you’ve been injured, reach out to us for immediate help.
When Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer?
It’s smart to speak with a personal injury lawyer within 48 hours of the accident. The claims adjusters hired by ICBC and other insurance companies work to settle claims as quickly and for as little compensation as possible. Having legal representation tells the insurance companies that you aren’t going to be cheated.
Here are three reasons to consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer:
- Protection: Insurers often need accident victims to make statements and sign documents. You are under no obligation to sign certain forms. Many people unknowingly sign their rights away and limit their ability to collect full compensation for their injuries. Our attorneys will ensure that your rights remain protected.
- Investigation: The success of a personal injury claim depends on the strength of the evidence. Our skilled personal injury attorneys will know what evidence is necessary to prove your claim. A thorough investigation can also prevent insurers from unfairly blaming you for the accident, which could reduce the amount of compensation you receive or result in the claim being thrown out completely.
- Representation: Most personal injury claims resolve in a settlement. Having an attorney by your side during settlement talks can help ensure that you are being offered the best possible outcome for your case. If negotiations break down, our experienced personal injury lawyers can discuss the possibility of taking the case to trial with you.
Keep in mind that if you file a lawsuit and take your case to court, it will take longer for the case to resolve. However, going to court could result in a higher award. Rest assured that at Warnett Hallen LLP, we discuss the pros and cons of trial with clients in great detail before making any decisions.
Personal Injury Claim Timeline
In British Columbia, it can take anywhere from months to years to resolve your injury claim. It depends on whether you can reach a fair settlement with the insurance company. Trials will always take longer because your attorney will need to prepare a defense to any claims made against you by the opposing party.
The personal injury claims process has certain phases. How long and how far you progress through the stages will depend on the details of your case.
Generally, the process looks something like this:
Report the incident promptly. Insurance companies typically have deadlines for how long you have to report an accident. It’s important to check your policy carefully after you’ve been injured. Some periods are as short as seven days. An attorney can help with this if are too seriously injured to do it yourself.
File the claim within B.C. personal injury time limits. There are different legal deadlines depending on the type of personal injury claim you will be filing.
- Personal injury claims: 2 years
- Wrongful death: 2 years
- ICBC claims: 2 years, with specific exceptions such as if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident or a minor at the time of injury, among others.
- Claims against the government or a municipality: Notice must be given within 2 months and a lawsuit filed within 6 months.
The investigation begins. During this phase, the insurance company and your lawyer will be gathering evidence, reviewing medical records, and obtaining other information that is critical to your claim. Depending on the severity of the accident and who is involved, this process could be relatively short or take a considerable amount of time.
You enter settlement negotiations. At the end of the initial investigation, your lawyer will provide a settlement demand to ICBC. That party could accept the settlement, reject it, or provide a counteroffer. This process often goes back and forth several times before an agreement can be reached. Negotiations typically cannot begin until you have recovered as much as possible and a doctor is able to offer a prognosis on the condition you can expect to be in moving forward. This allows a lawyer to determine how much compensation you will need not only now, but in the future as well.
File a lawsuit. If a settlement cannot be reached, the Vancouver personal injury attorneys at Warnett Hallen LLP, may recommend taking the case to trial.
Discovery begins. Discovery is a more in-depth investigation to strengthen the merits of your claim. During this time, your lawyer may hire experts, conduct depositions, and gather more evidence. Both sides are required to share their findings. This gives everyone a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s arguments.
Try to settle again. Going to trial should be your last resort. In B.C., you may try to resolve your case through mediation. During this process, a neutral third party tries to facilitate negotiations and bring the two sides to an agreement.
Trial. When a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may recommend taking the case to trial in a Vancouver court. While this process can take a year or longer, trial may be the best path to get you the compensation you deserve.
What Can Cause a Case to Take Longer to Settle?
There are many issues that can cause a personal injury case to take longer to resolve. These include:
- Severity of the injuries: The more severe your injuries are, the longer your case will take. In order for an attorney to place a fair value on your claim, you need to have recovered as much as can be expected given the nature of your injuries.
- Stalling tactics: Sometimes, insurers use strategies to delay the settlement process until the injured party gets so frustrated that they settle for less than they are truly entitled to. At Warnett Hallen LLP, our motto is “settle for more.” We won’t let you be underpaid.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident in British Columbia, call or contact us now for free advice from accomplished personal injury attorneys who know what it takes to win.
How Can My Lawyer Speed Up the Personal Injury Settlement Process?
Certain delays during the personal injury claims process are unavoidable. However, there are certain aspects a lawyer can help expedite.
For example, a skilled personal injury attorney knows the tricks that insurance companies use to minimize payouts. When a claimant is represented by an attorney, claims adjusters are less inclined to try those tactics, which can make the settlement process faster.
It’s important to remember that faster is not always better. You don’t have an unlimited number of chances to getting compensation. If you rush the process, you could end up with a settlement that doesn’t reflect the true needs of you and your family.
How Can Warnett Hallen Help Me?
At Warnett Hallen LLP, our Vancouver personal injury lawyers always aim for a timely and satisfactory resolution to your claim. You can trust us to give you an honest opinion, thorough representation, and compassionate support as we work toward the best outcome for you and the ones you love. If you’ve been injured in B.C., contact us to schedule your free consultation.