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Well, claims are not settled usually until you finish your treatment and you’ve been released from care. So generally they don’t settle until that point. Of course, if you want to take a small number and settle right away and not wait till your treatment is complete, you can do that. We don’t recommend that, and if that’s the case you are probably not even going to have a lawyer involved.
Some insurance companies will come to your door and try to offer you a few hundred dollars, a day or two after the wreck, to sign the paperwork before you’ve seen a doctor or learned the full extent of your claim. One of the top insurance companies in North Carolina, or the one that writes the most policies (I’m not going to say who they are), will come out to your door and offer you $250.00-$1,000.00 for your claim and have you sign a release. I’ve had elderly clients who thought they were signing property damage or medical payments paperwork, but it turns out they basically signed away their case and signed a full release. It’s very difficult to get those overturned.
We had one overturned for an elderly couple who thought it was a ‘med pay.’ After we got involved, the insurance company admitted that it may have been misconstrued. So they overturned it, and we were able to settle our client’s case down the road for a much higher number. But if you’re going to settle your case right away you’re going to settle for less than what it’s worth.
We went to court on one of these recently, where they had a client on the phone and the jury thought that, “Well, she had other issues in the case, but one of them was that she signed a release.” She said she was on medication, that the doctor did prescribe her medication that day, pain meds. She didn’t remember the conversation. It was recorded on the telephone, and she accepted it over the phone. She didn’t sign anything. But, as long as you accept it over the phone, and say, “Yes, I accept that” it’s over. We get that a lot and we don’t get involved. If they do accept it over the phone, it’s too difficult to get it overturned.
How long does a lawsuit take for a motorcycle accident?
It usually takes about a year from the time you file a lawsuit until the time you have your jury trial. If a settlement cannot be reached, and litigation is required, we usually file it at that point. We generally don’t file a lawsuit right away at the beginning unless there are exceptional circumstances, or the client requests we file the lawsuit right away. Most of our clients want to try and work out a settlement without going to court and spending all that time. But if we can’t resolve it, and it’s not going to be worked out and we do file the lawsuit, it takes usually 12 months from that point in time.