If you or a loved one sustain an injury caused by the negligence of another individual or entity in West Virginia, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. You may also wonder how long it takes for these cases to conclude after they begin. The reality is that that will depend on whether or not the case is settled with insurance carriers or goes into the civil court system. Here, we want to discuss the various timelines that could occur with your personal injury claim.
Filing a Claim After the Incident (Weeks to Months)
The time frame for a personal injury case in West Virginia begins the moment an injury occurs. We always stress the importance of seeking out an attorney who can help you file your claim as soon as possible. The sooner you file a claim, the sooner you can get this process rolling in order to secure the compensation you need to help with your current financial situation.
However, filing a claim immediately does not guarantee quick results. There are various tactics that insurance carriers and at-fault parties can use to delay a claim from moving forward promptly. Additionally, even after filing a claim, your attorney may need to continue investigating the incident so they have full information moving forward to help them pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.
Waiting for Medical Care to Conclude (Months to Years)
You should never agree to a personal injury settlement with insurance carriers or the at-fault party until after you have concluded all medical treatment needed for your injuries. All too often, individuals rush a settlement before medical care has concluded because they need the money. While this is understandable, this often leaves money on the table.
We strongly encourage all personal injury victims to never sign a settlement agreement until after they have reached what their doctor considers maximum medical improvement. This will be the point where further medical care will be unlikely to change the situation any further. If you discontinue medical treatment or sign a settlement agreement before your treatment is over, there will be no way to go back and recover more compensation if your injury treatment is more extensive than you thought.
Sometimes, individuals finish their medical treatment within a few weeks after an injury occurs. However, it could take months before the full extent of an injury is fully realized.
Negotiations Back and Forth (Months to Years)
There will inevitably be negotiations back and forth between a plaintiff (the injury victim) and the defendant (the at-fault party). These negotiations typically occur between attorneys for both sides. It is not uncommon for personal injury claim negotiations to take months or even up to a year to reach a conclusion, and that still does not guarantee a successful outcome. If the defendant refuses to offer a fair settlement or if they continue to deny a claim, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit (One Year or More)
When a personal injury lawsuit is filed, it officially enters the civil court system, and this will likely extend the time it takes for a settlement to be reached. The discovery process will begin, which is when both sides will exchange information with one another. Negotiations often continue during this process, and most claims are resolved before they go all the way to a jury trial. However, that is not guaranteed. It could take years for a case to finally conclude after a personal injury lawsuit is filed.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.