If you recover from your injuries within a matter of weeks or months, then your claim can be settled at that point in time, subject to obtaining any medical evidence outlining the impact that your injuries had upon you over that time. If, however, you have ongoing problems as a result of your injuries, then the average time to settle a personal injury claim is about 18 months.
The reason for this is that it normally takes at least 12 months for most orthopaedic injuries to reach maximum medical improvement or to become stable and stationary. Medicolegal appointments then need to be organised by both sides (ie by your lawyers and then independent medicolegal appointments are organised by the insurer), before an offer of settlement can then be compiled.
Once all medical evidence is in, the parties then normally arrange to attend a compulsory settlement conference, in an effort to informally negotiate a settlement of the claim. If the matter cannot be resolved at the compulsory conference, then court proceedings have to be officially commenced and the claim is likely to take closer to 2 years to settle. If the claim cannot be resolved at all on an informal basis and needs to proceed to trial to get a resolution, this can take 3 years or more.
There are also some exceptions in terms of the timeframe required to settle a personal injury claim. In cases where the injuries take a long time to recover, or reach maximum medical improvement, settlement of the claim can be delayed. This might be the case, for example, where someone has had to have multiple surgical procedures or operations which take a long time to heal. Alternatively, someone might be so adversely affected psychologically that it takes years for them to have treatment and get to the point where they are considered to be stable and stationary.
In the case of children, it may take many years for their personal injury claim to resolve, as the lawyers and judges want to be sure that they know what impact those injuries are going to have upon those children after they have finished growing/developing and they have a better idea of what path that child might have taken but for the injuries sustained in the accident. In many children’s cases, settlement is deferred until those children reach 18 years of age.