Being involved in an accident can turn your life upside down. You may want nothing more than to return things to normal so that you can put the experience behind you. This means resolving your personal injury claim in Ontario as quickly as possible. It is imperative, however, to be patient. Waiting can lead to a much better financial outcome from an insurance company than rushing into a fast settlement – providing a better future for you and your family.
How Long Does the Average Settlement Take?
Most personal injury claims are resolved within four to six weeks. In this time, an insurance company will investigate the accident, assess your losses, and determine whether to accept or reject the claim. If you and the insurance company cannot reach a settlement – such as if the carrier refuses to offer a reasonable amount – your case may have to go to trial. This can add much more time to your case. Many injury trials in Ontario take a year or longer.
Factors That Can Change the Settlement Timeline
In addition to going to trial, many other factors may make your settlement take longer than several weeks. While you may be impatient to resolve your case, it is important to take the time that your case needs to achieve a fair outcome. Factors that can add time include:
- Injury severity. Never accept a settlement before reaching the point of maximum medical improvement. This is the date by which your doctor believes you will recover no further from a serious injury. Accepting a settlement before reaching this point can mean receiving less than the full value of your injuries and medical care.
- Case complexity. If your injury claim has complications, expect it to take longer. Examples include a lengthy investigation, a liability dispute, multiple defendants, and requests for more proof or information from an insurance company
- Settlement value. Insurance companies are generally reluctant to offer large payouts. If your case involves catastrophic injuries or wrongful death and has a high dollar value, it may take longer to resolve. The insurance company may make it more difficult to receive fair compensation or delay your payout on purpose.
Just as there are elements that could extend your settlement timeline, there are also things that you can do to speed up the claims process without jeopardizing your rights. Hiring a personal injury lawyer, for example, can allow you to file the required claims paperwork quickly and efficiently. Avoiding common mistakes can move your claim along faster.
Why You Shouldn’t Rush a Personal Injury Settlement
An insurance company knows that injured accident victims want to get paid as quickly as possible. They often take advantage of this fact by offering a low settlement early on in the hopes that the claimant will quickly accept it and sign a Waiver and Release Form without any further negotiations. This is a major mistake.
Rather than rushing to accept the very first settlement offered to you by an insurance company, take it to a personal injury lawyer in Ontario for review. Conversely, an insurance company may intentionally use delay tactics to frustrate you and make it more likely that you will accept a low settlement. Having patience and being willing to wait to resolve your claim can lead to a much higher outcome.
Do not sign anything sent to you by an insurance company until you’ve spoken to a lawyer. A lawyer will help you understand the true value of your claim. A lawyer can also submit a counteroffer on your behalf if the first offer is too low. From there, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurer to achieve fair financial compensation. Taking the time to understand the long-term consequences of your injury and negotiate an accurate case value can protect your future.