The costs associated with a car accident or other injury-related incident can mount very quickly. As medical complications require ongoing care, work is put on a back burner and property repairs are performed. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars in costs can quickly escalate, and the wages lost mean that the victim, an average St. Petersburg resident, is unable to pay them. So, that person seeks the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Unfortunately, what many of these victims learn the hard way is that a personal injury case can drag on for a long period of time.
This prolonged period has nothing to do with the performance of the attorney. In most cases, it has to do with the negotiation period, and then with the court schedules. A number of other issues can arise as well. In fact, let us take a moment to consider the three classic reasons for a case running longer than expected:
Complications with the Facts
There are so many variables that go into personal injury cases that minor complications are not uncommon. New evidence can be unearthed during the process that requires negotiations to start anew; liability can be difficult to prove so a great deal of evidence will be required; and/or expenses for medical treatment can slowly roll in, adding to the total damages requested. More often than not, the complications relate to the burden of proof. It is up to the plaintiff (the victim) to prove that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence was responsible for the injuries and damages suffered. Collecting, organizing, and confirming the evidence needed to prove this isn’t always a quick process.
This collection of evidence will often take even longer if there is a large amount of money at stake. Insurers will not simply turn over large sums without ensuring that every possible circumstance is considered. Time can quickly elapse as both sides work to collect as much proof as possible.
When problems cannot be solved outside of court, dates must be set for matters to convene before a judge or jury. There can be several pre-trial meetings at the court, and, because you are operating on the court’s time, dates can be pushed out over several weeks or even months.
This can be complicated further if there are issues with evidence or legal procedures. The courts are quite particular about how things are presented. Furthermore, if you are not yet at “maximum medical improvement,” things may be delayed until you reach a state of stabilized health.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
This is a term used in the legal system, which can be a bit confusing. However, the definition is really quite simple. Before medical costs can be calculated, a diagnosis must have been made and a treatment plan must be in place. While the victim may not be fully healed, and may face a lifetime of continued care, there must be a thorough understanding of what the complications are and what sort of care will be required to ensure the best possible quality of life. Otherwise, the courts have a difficult time calculating the actual medical care expenses to be considered as damages in the case.
Unfortunately, even the best attorneys cannot always hurry the process along for you, but a good personal injury attorney will explain each step along the way and help you better understand the timeline of events.