How Long Does it Take to Settle a Personal Injury Case in NJ?

Knowing what to expect from a personal injury case can make you feel more comfortable and confident with undertaking the legal process. The amount of time that a personal injury case in New Jersey takes to settle depends on its unique factors. Timelines can vary widely from case to case based on issues such as injury complexity and settlement negotiations.

Fast Settlement: One to Three Months

A fast settlement could be achieved in as little as one to three months if both parties reach an agreement right away. After receiving an injury claim, an insurance company has 10 days to begin any necessary investigation under New Jersey law (N.J. Admin Code 11:2-17.7[a]). The investigation must then be completed within 30 days of receipt of proof of the claimant’s losses.

If an investigation cannot be completed within 30 days, the insurance company must give you an explanation as to why they need to extend the investigative period or require further proof of losses. Once a settlement is offered and you accept, the insurance company must pay you within 10 days. With these time limits in place, a settlement could be reached in several weeks if the claim is not disputed and you do not negotiate its value.

Longer Settlement: Three Months to One Year or Longer

While you may be eager to accept the very first settlement offered to you by an insurance company so you can finish your case and receive payment, it is crucial not to rush the settlement process. Once you accept a settlement and sign a release of liability waiver, you permanently release the at-fault party from any further financial responsibility for your injuries and losses.

You cannot reopen your personal injury case or renegotiate for a higher settlement, even if you discover later that your injuries require more medical care than you originally thought. This is why it is imperative to be patient and negotiate with an insurance company until you are sure that the settlement is fair, just and reasonable. This process could take three months up to around one year or longer.

You may need to wait until you fully understand the extent of your injuries and the impact they will continue to have on your life and future to accept a personal injury settlement. Your personal injury attorney may recommend waiting until your point of maximum medical improvement, or the time at which your doctor believes you will not recover any further from your injuries. This could take many weeks or months, depending on the severity of the injury.

Going to Trial: One Year or Longer

While the majority of personal injury cases in New Jersey reach settlements, some end up at trial. These cases may involve complications such as a liability dispute, multiple liable parties, catastrophic or fatal injuries, a wrongfully rejected claim, or an insurer that refuses to offer a reasonable settlement. A trial could easily take longer than a year, especially if the courthouse has a busy schedule.

Taking a case to court involves filing a lawsuit, going through the discovery phase, interviewing witnesses and experts, and presenting the personal injury case before a judge or jury. These processes could take many months from start to finish. Throughout a lawsuit, a settlement can still be reached at any time before the first day of trial. Many cases are resolved by mediation or arbitration on the eve of settlement.

Many legal implications and considerations can affect the timeline of a personal injury case in New Jersey. To learn how long your specific case might take, contact a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. for a free case evaluation.