This post was originally published on Sep 3rd, 2010 and updated on June 4th, 2020.
As personal injury lawyers who meet hundreds of accident clients, we know that if you have been in a motor vehicle collision, either as a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian, you are probably wondering how long it will take for your case to result in compensation for you. There is no one size fits all answer to that question, but here are four factors that impact the timeline.
Factor Number 1: What type of injury do you have?
Some injuries are more straightforward than others. This can impact how easy it is to assess the value of your claim. Many fractures or other “objective” injuries have a predictable recovery. Plus, their lasting effects are easy to predict. If you have an injury like that, it may be easier to settle your case sooner because we can reasonably assess what your case is worth without waiting to see what happens to you.
On the other hand, if you have an injury that is progressive where you may or may not need surgery in the future, it will be more difficult to assess your damages (the amount of compensation) at an early stage. There is a serious risk of under-compensation if you settle before this type of injury has stabilized. You do not want to settle your case too early and be shortchanged if your medical outcome is worse than you hoped.
Factor Number 2: Have you returned to work?
If you have already returned to work, or if you did not work before you were hurt, it may be possible to settle your case sooner because it is not necessary to predict what your total loss of income will be. For example, if you are still off work, but expect and hope to return to work sometime in the future it can be difficult to negotiate enough compensation to cover all your lost future income.
We often must wait a long time before your doctors will provide a strong, conclusive opinion that you will not be returning to work. Again, settling before you have that information risks under-compensation. Loss of income can be the most important and most valuable part of a personal injury case so, it is important to maximize this part of your case.
Factor Number 3: Are your injuries permanent?
In Ontario, according to the Insurance Act, you cannot sue for pain and suffering after a car accident unless your injuries are permanent. For many types of injuries, it takes time before you will be able to show that your injuries will meet that part of the legal threshold to sue in Ontario.
Factor Number 4: Did you contact a lawyer early in the process?
If you have a lawyer involved soon after the accident happens, there may be a chance to settle with the insurance company directly. Settling before we start a lawsuit can be a much faster process than a lawsuit, although it is not appropriate or possible in some cases.
If you contact a lawyer too close to the limitation period expires (usually two years from the date of the accident), there may not be enough time to negotiate a resolution with the insurance company’s adjuster. When that happens, a lawsuit will be required. Where a lawsuit is started, cases rarely settle before examination for discovery which, can be scheduled 8-10 months down the road due to conflicting schedules.
To speak to an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer call 613 233-4529, email us at [email protected] or use our handy contact form.