If you were injured in a car accident and are seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, there is usually a time when it becomes reasonable to settle your case. You may not always have a clear indication of how much your case is worth, but after some negotiation and discovery your attorney usually has a good idea of the range in which your case will settle.
Does that mean you should settle your case as soon as you receive a decent settlement offer? Not always. There are times it is better to wait, even if you do not think you will get a higher settlement offer. One of those times is when you are still undergoing therapy and your doctor is unsure exactly how long you will be treated before you recover.
The Therapy Dilemma
One of the biggest problems in settling a personal injury case is the possibility that you are not finished with your medical treatment. What if you settle your case and the next week discover that you need thousands of dollars in additional medical care?
One of the jobs of a personal injury attorney is to help you decide if you need more medical care based on your doctor’s prognosis. If so, it is usually wise to wait to settle your case until you are finished with your entire treatment or you have reached maximum medical improvement.
In order to help you understand the common personal injury settlement timeline for moderate accident injuries, here is a breakdown of how a soft tissue* injury case may progress:
- A few hours after the accident. You may still be in shock and may not believe you have been seriously injured. It is not unusual for an accident victim to feel no pain immediately after an accident. This is the body’s way of protecting you from the worst of the shock from a sudden injury.
- The day after the accident. Within 24 hours of most accidents, victims begin to feel a great deal of pain, especially if they have not been treated for their injuries. It is not uncommon for bruising to begin to show at this time, as well.
- The week after the accident. If you have suffered whiplash or some other form of injury, it may present symptoms within the first week after the accident, although some victims do not show symptoms for two weeks or more. This is also the time when you will begin to notice limitations imposed by your injuries.
- One to three months after an accident. During this time, you have hopefully begun work to recover from your injuries. This may include physical therapy and other forms of intervention, depending on the extent of the injuries.
- Six months after an accident. If you are still working on your recovery and making progress, this is the time to stop and take stock of where you are. Your doctor can usually give you a somewhat reliable prognosis based on your progress to date.
- One year after an accident. If you have not made any progress in your recovery by this time, your injuries may be permanent. If that is the case, your personal injury attorney may want to adjust your settlement requirements based on a permanent disability rather than a temporary one.
A personal injury attorney is on your side and works to protect your interests. It is very important that you work with your attorney and do not become impatient to recover compensation too quickly. Doing so could cost you thousands of dollars in potential recovery from your accident injuries.
* Soft tissues injuries include injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments (not bones).