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If you have suffered an injury in Georgia and are beginning the personal injury claims process, you may wonder how long it will take to receive compensation. While the length of time it will take for you to reach the end of the claims process will vary based on your circumstances, many personal injury cases can take a year or more to settle. From the pre-trial investigation and negotiations to the trial and settlement check processes, starting the claims process as quickly as possible will help you reach the end of the claim sooner.
The Investigation and Discovery Process
Once you receive medical attention for your injury, you should engage an attorney right away. After you have obtained the services of a personal injury attorney, he or she will begin the case process. You will discuss fee arrangements and fill out the initial paperwork to file your claim. Your attorney will also notify the at-fault party in your case of your intention to file your claim, so he or she can begin his or her own legal process.
Next, your attorney will begin the discovery process. This stage may take between six months to one year and may be longer for more complex cases. During this process, your attorney will begin reviewing certain pieces of evidence and digging up facts.
- Reviewing police reports
- Evaluating medical records
- Taking depositions
- Interviewing witnesses from the scene
- Investigating any disputes about the accident
- Engaging in accident reconstruction
- Setting up meetings with medical experts
In addition, your attorney will exchange documents with the insurance company responsible for paying your eventual claim or the at-fault party. The other party will respond and you will continue the exchange until you set up a date to attempt settlement.
Many personal injury cases are settled before reaching the trial process. However, the at-fault party may contest your claim and refuse to settle out of court, and you will have to engage in the courtroom. In most cases, you and your attorney will meet with the at-fault party to attempt a settlement through negotiation, arbitration, or mediation. If you do not reach an agreement during this discussion, you can move to trial.
The Trial Process
The trial process can take one year to two years from filing your lawsuit. You and your attorney will prepare motions and other arguments, as will the at-fault party. The judge and jury will hear your case and make a decision based on the facts. Eventually, the jury will reach a verdict in which they award you damages. The at-fault party may choose to appeal the verdict, which could lengthen the trial process by another two years if successful. If he or she does not appeal, the at-fault party will need to pay your settlement immediately.
The Settlement Check Process
You do not receive your settlement check immediately after the trial ends. You and your attorney will need to review and sign the release form, which outlines the terms and conditions of your settlement. If your attorney disagrees with some terms, he or she will have to revise the agreement with the defense until it reaches a point where you can sign.
Next, the insurance company will write your check, which could take a few weeks. The check will reach your attorney, who will place the check in an escrow account and wait for it to clear. The attorney will also deduct any legal fees and liens from your check. Finally, your attorney will write you a check for the remainder of the settlement and mail it to you.
From start to finish, the claims process can easily take two years or more. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you expedite this process and begin your journey toward settlement.