Making Up For Lost Time

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When Should You Elect To Settle An Injury Claim?

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Personal injury lawyers often field questions from folks who aren't sure about when they need to do to settle their claims. This is especially challenging if an insurance claims adjuster comes at you with a settlement very early in the process. When should you elect to settle a claim?

Reaching the Fullest Possible Physical Recovery

More than anything, a personal injury law firm wants to know that each client has reached as close to a full physical recovery as possible. This doesn't mean that you need to be completely recovered. What it does mean is that a lawyer wants to know that you've bounced back about as much as doctors think you're likely to.

Why is this a concern? Personal injury lawyers and their clients will almost never get second chances at settling claims. You get one settlement, short of some sort of fraud or misrepresentation by the insurance provider or the defendant. This means you want to be sure that whatever compensation you receive will cover your long-term medical needs and lost wages.

It can be hard to accept a settlement if you don't know what your long-term prognosis might be. Whenever possible, a personal injury law firm wants a client to get through all of the medical reports, physical therapy work, and exploratory surgeries an incident might involve. Only then might an attorney consider settling.

The Statutory Limit Is Approaching

One limiting factor in all of the preceding is what might happen if you run out of time to file a claim. Each state has laws limiting how long someone can wait to file an initial claim, but these usually require folks to submit their demands to a defendant or insurer within two to three years of the related incident.

Some states have laws that carve out exceptions, though. For example, a case involving a repetitive injury doesn't start the clock until you discover the problem. Similarly, many laws covering chemical exposure or sexual abuse claims impose either no limits or ones that span decades.

On the downside, most cases involving state and local governments have shorter limits. These are often just months. Likewise, cases involving federal agencies or their designees often go through a radically different claims process.

You want to get your claim to the other side before the statute of limitations hits. In some scenarios, this may mean basing your demands on whatever you know at the time.