The short answer is: “It depends." Many factors could affect the length of a personal injury case, including: the level of harm, medical treatment, insurance coverage, liability disputes, Medicaid, Medicare, liens, and the court docket. If liability (i.e. who was at fault) is not in dispute, a case might get resolved quickly. Then again, even where liability is admitted, there may be an argument over how much money the at-fault party’s insurance company owes you. In these instances, a lawsuit may be required. Once a lawsuit is filed, it is generally months and in some cases years before a dispute is resolved in South Carolina.
If I believe there is a chance to settle your case without filing suit, we will submit a "demand package" to the at-fault party’s insurer. The demand package include your medical records, lost wage information, relevant photos, video, accident reports, witness statements, and all other favorable evidence. In most instances, the insurer will respond to our demand within one month. Their response begins the negotiating process. Negotiations sometimes take only a few days. Other times, negotiations breakdown and lead to me filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
In South Carolina, it generally takes one year from the date a lawsuit is filed for that case to be called to trial. However, insurance companies often try to delay the process, resulting in cases not being called to trial for 18-24 months. Fortunately, most accident cases settle short of trial. In fact, more than 90% of lawsuits in our state are settled prior to trial. And though I would prefer my clients not have to wait years for closure and compensation, if the insurance company refuses to treat you fairly, I will not hesitate to try your case before a jury should that become the only avenue to justice.
I hope this article provides some insight as to why personal injury cases often take more time than clients and the lawyers who represent them wish they would. If you have any further questions, request free copies of my books and call my Columbia, SC office today for a free consultation at 803-790-2800.