Q: I was involved in a car accident that wasn’t my fault, but getting a financial settlement is taking much longer than I expected. At what point should I consider suing the other driver/insurance company to speed the process along? Or is better to wait to settle outside of court no matter how long it takes?
A: Not all car accidents and injuries are created equal. So, there is not one answer as to the timing of filing a lawsuit that is right for all persons injured in car accidents. Indeed, the correct answer can vary. In thinking about what is right for your personal injury claim, you want to consider your injuries and health condition, the facts of your case and the statute of limitations (time deadline) for bringing a personal injury claim.
In general, you want to wait to settle your case until your medical condition has returned to how you were before the car accident or until your medical improvement has reached a plateau and your treating doctors can offer a prognosis as to what the future holds for you in terms of future treatment, medical bills and your ability to function.
By waiting until you are back to normal or your treating doctors can offer a prognosis, you will make sure the evaluation of your personal injury claim contemplates all damages including future medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Sometimes attempting settlement before filing a lawsuit is best. Sometimes you have to file a lawsuit before your claim will be taken seriously. Also, the facts of your case can dictate when to file a lawsuit. For instance, if the at-fault driver’s insurance company denies responsibility or is giving you a difficult time, it may be best to file a lawsuit and proceed to litigation.
Finally, you must be mindful of any applicable statute of limitations (time deadline) for filing a lawsuit. In Indiana, the general statute of limitations for bring a lawsuit for a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the accident. In other words, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the accident date or your claim is forever time-barred.
In sum, best practice is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you think through your situation and what is the best strategy for your personal injury claim.
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