Unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, clients often have an unreasonable expectation as to when they expect their particular personal injury claim to be resolved. Often, a client will ask me, just days after being discharged by their treating physician, “how soon can I settle my case?” Of course, there can never be a guarantee that a case will ever settle, let alone an accurate timetable; however, I am able to offer, based on my decades of experience, my expectation as to when I expect to hear something from the carrier, one way or another. That timetable that I offer, is just an estimate as to when I will be able to communicate with the liability adjuster about the claim, not whether an offer will be made, nor whether any offer might be reasonable. Naturally, I am, first and foremost, at the mercy of the treating physician, as to when that office is able to send me the bills and records (as well as hospitals, radiologists, primary care providers, etc.). I also often need to wait for wage loss documentation, which is generated by the client and his or her employer.
Once all of the necessary supporting documentation is provided to the liability adjuster, the adjuster needs to evaluate the claim, and then obtain the necessary authority to make an offer; this process may take four to six weeks, on average. However, if the process takes longer, as it often does, it is not necessarily in the client’s best interest, yet, to consider filing suit. It is almost always preferable to settle the case, prior to filing a lawsuit. The reason is simple – it’s less expensive and time consuming for the client. Filing suit, and getting to trial may take months or even years. And the fee often goes up (the percentage of the gross recovery the attorney charges), plus the costs of prosecuting the case rises (filing fee, deposition costs, service of process, etc.).
A client should heed the advice of his or her attorney who has a fiduciary interest to provide the client advice that is in the client’s best interest. If the attorney thinks the time that has elapsed since the adjuster has obtained the settlement documents is not unusual, then it may very well be in the client’s best interest to wait for an offer. Naturally, you can’t wait forever, but let your attorney advise you, and listen to that advice.