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I have talked in these articles before about the first question the majority of my clients ask which is, how much their personal injury claim might be worth. In this piece I would like to address the second most common question that I hear. How long will it be before I get my personal injury settlement?

As with most of the questions that I get asked, there is no iron-clad answer and to a great extent, it depends on the client’s case and what they are hoping to achieve that will determine what type of timeline we are looking at. In reality, a case can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, with the biggest deciding factor being what the client is willing to settle for and how much patience they have.

For a Fast Settlement

As has often been discussed, insurance companies love to make money, not give it away. This doesn’t mean that they won’t settle a claim in a hurry, though. If you are willing to settle for a lowball offer that could actually be pennies on the dollar of what your claim is actually worth, they will happily cut you a check, get your signatures on a few release forms and forget you ever existed.

This way you could have your money in as little as a few weeks time. It will take this long for them to decide how low they think they can get away with offering you and then process the paperwork that will make you disappear off their radar.

A Little Patience Can Pay Big Dividends

If you are in a position and of a temperament that will allow your attorney time to work and negotiate on your behalf, you can greatly increase your settlement amount. Be aware though that this does take a lengthy amount of time and in some cases years before you see your money.

In the majority of cases, the insurance company is going to want to wait until you have reached your point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). Then they are going to want to have all your records made available to them and have time for their own experts to go through them and make a recommendation as to what they should settle for.

Of course, it is at this point that your attorney really begins to fight for you. He/she will have to use all of the negation tactics and skills that they possess in order to maximize your recovery. You can be a great help during this phase by collecting your medical records yourself and doing exactly as your lawyer asks you to do.

The Long Road

The path that takes the longest to walk is also the one that carries both the highest potential for reward and the greatest risk. It is when all else has failed and your case actually goes to trial.

As I have discussed many times, insurance companies don’t like to lose a penny that they don’t have to. If your attorney cannot negotiate a fair settlement or the insurance company simply refuses to settle for a reasonable amount then the case will have to go before a jury. Trust me, the defendants will do everything they can to delay the case as long as possible in the hope you will either give up, fall into dire straits and settle for a penance, or die before the case is settled.

There is an old saying that I’m sure we are all familiar with, “Patience is a virtue”. When it comes to dealing with the law, it is not only a virtue, it is a necessity. While there may be things that both you and your attorney can do to smooth the process of settling a personal injury claim, there is little that can be done to make the process fast by any standards.

Your best course of action, if you are to have any hope of maximizing the settlement that you are to receive is to stay as calm as possible, listen to your attorney and not rush the process. To put it into extreme terms, often the difference in $5,000 settlement and a $5,000,000 case is nothing more than time.