Every year, hundreds of pedestrians in Missouri get sent to hospitals and emergency rooms with serious injuries after being struck by motor vehicles. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users in Kansas City, meaning that they are the most susceptible to serious and fatal injuries in traffic accidents. If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, learn what to expect from the legal timeline. Contact a Kansas City pedestrian accident lawyer today.
Short Answer: It Depends
A pedestrian accident case in Kansas City can take anywhere from several months to multiple years, depending on the circumstances. There is no single timeline these cases adhere to; how long they take varies based on factors specific to the case, such as whether a driver’s insurance company settles or the case goes to court. Other factors that can affect a case timeline include the extent of the victim’s injuries, how long it takes an insurance company to investigate the accident and whether there is a liability dispute.
A pedestrian accident claim starts with an investigation. The car insurance company that receives the claim – the driver’s insurer, in most cases – will assign a representative known as the insurance claims adjuster to the case. The claims adjuster’s job is to investigate the accident, determine fault, and make a recommendation to the insurance company whether to accept or reject the claim. How long the investigative period lasts depends on the complexity of the case.
Investigations often involve returning to the scene of the pedestrian accident, discovering and interviewing witnesses, searching for video surveillance footage, obtaining or subpoenaing relevant records, and hiring experts. Although Missouri law gives insurance companies no more than 30 days to complete an investigation, they can – and often do – extend this deadline by arguing that the investigation cannot reasonably be completed within this time.
Once an insurance company completes its investigation, it will either extend a settlement offer to the claimant or send a rejection letter, which must state the reason for the claim denial. If a settlement is offered, the victim or victim’s personal injury lawyer can negotiate with the insurer to try to alter the value of the settlement. Negotiations can go back and forth for any length of time until both parties are satisfied with the agreement.
Typically, a settlement will not be reached until the victim has completed his or her medical treatment and reached the point of maximum medical improvement (or come close enough to give the victim a clear picture of his or her medical costs, including future estimated expenses). This means cases involving serious or catastrophic injuries often take longer than minor injury claims. In general, however, pedestrian accident settlements take between 6 and 12 months.
Personal Injury Trial
If a pedestrian accident claim does not get resolved with an insurance settlement, it will have to go to court. An injured accident victim in Missouri has five years to bring a personal injury claim under the state’s statute of limitations. Once the lawsuit has been filed, it will go through the stages of discovery, pre-trial hearings and negotiations, and a personal injury trial. Altogether, this legal process typically takes at least a year. It could take multiple years in a complicated case or if the courthouse is busy.
It is important not to rush into a fast settlement during a pedestrian accident claim, as you may end up accepting less than you deserve for your injuries and losses. While you may be eager to get your settlement check, you will not be able to reopen your case or renegotiate for a fairer amount once you accept. This could be detrimental to your future if you have a long-term injury. For more information about how long your particular pedestrian accident case might take, contact an attorney at Dickerson Oxton to request a free consultation.