The settlement process with regard to a personal injury claim
After all the investigation and research has been completed, your lawyer will keep in touch with the progress of your recovery. Hopefully, your injury will not be a serious one and eventually it will be appropriate to attempt settlement. After a settlement range has been decided upon, the lawyer will send what is usually called a letter of demand to the insurance company.
The letter of demand summarizes the important factors of your claim and is a formal request to initiate settlement discussions. After the insurance carrier’s claims adjuster receives the letter of demand, he or she will meet with appropriate supervisors to obtain settlement authority. Once the adjuster has his final authority figure, he will respond and negotiations between your lawyer and the insurance adjuster will take place.
Some cases can be concluded with a series of telephone conferences, office conferences and correspondence. The period of time required to complete negotiations usually depends upon a number of factors including the nature of the insurance company, how busy the insurance adjuster is and other factors.
In most cases the amount of time it takes from the first letter of demand to final settlement can be several weeks to a few months or sometimes longer. In smaller, clear-cut liability cases where the injuries are fairly minimal, the process can be achieved in a month or two usually. Every case is different, however, and your lawyer will advise you about his opinion on the amount of time it will probably take to settle your case. There are many factors, which affect the response time and the adjuster’s final offer. They include:
- How many files the insurance adjuster is handling.
- How well documented the claim has been during the preparation period.
- Whether or not liability is clear on the part of the insurance company’s client.
- Whether or not there is any comparative negligence on your part.
- Whether or not there are any other parties that may be responsible for your injuries.
- The internal claims process of the particular insurance company including the number of supervisors required to approve the adjuster’s settlement offer.
- How reasonable your lawyer’s demand figure is.
- The time of year (some months are better for settlement than others).
- The state of the economy as it relates to the insurance claims process.
- Other possible factors.