If you were severely injured in a boat or jet ski accident in Georgia, you might be struggling under the weight of mounting medical bills and other unforeseen expenses. You also might be financially strapped due to time missed from work due to treatment and recovery. The at-fault party may owe you significant compensation for the harm you’ve suffered, but what if you need the money right now? How long will it take your boat or jet ski accident claim to settle? The time it takes to settle your claim depends on whether you have to litigate your case and other influential factors we discuss below.
Beginning the Boat or Jet Ski Accident Claims Process
The settlement process for a boat or jet ski accident in Georgia usually begins after you have started treatment for your injuries and have hired an experienced boat or jet ski accident attorney to represent you. After hiring a lawyer, here are the next steps in the process of recovering compensation for your losses in a boat or jet ski accident:
Gathering information and evidence
A strong injury claim requires evidence. Because crucial pieces of evidence can be lost, destroyed, or altered over time, it is essential to hire a lawyer right away after your boat or jet ski accident. Your lawyer will work quickly to secure evidence that will bolster your claim. This might include:
- Police or Coast Guard accident reports
- Pictures or video of the accident scene
- Eyewitness accounts
- Expert testimony
- Forensic accident reconstructions
This phase of the claims process can take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the circumstances and the complexity of your claim. You want to give your attorney as much time as possible to build your case so that they can negotiate from a position of strength.
Boat/Jet ski accident settlement negotiation
Next, your attorney will send a demand letter to the party liable for your injuries and their insurance company. This letter outlines the basic facts of your case and the compensation you are seeking. The insurance company generally has 30 days to respond to your letter.
The insurance company may not accept your initial demand. Your lawyer and the insurance company may participate in settlement negotiations. This phase of the claims process could last several months or up to a year, depending on the pushback you get from the insurance company. Be patient, though, as you want to give your lawyer as much time as possible to maximize the value of your settlement.
Filing a Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to preserve your right to recover compensation for your injuries. According to Georgia law, you must generally file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the boat or jet ski accident, or your case can be dismissed.
Once you have filed a lawsuit, you will likely begin a new round of negotiations with the insurance company, as the insurance company may want to avoid the risk and expense of a trial. The threat of a lawsuit and an imminent trial may be enough to convince the insurance company to make a more reasonable settlement offer. Additionally, the insurance file will transfer from an adjuster to the legal department, which may be better positioned to understand the potential risk the insurance company faces by not settling.
Litigating Your Case in Court
Should the insurance company refuse to compromise even after filing a lawsuit, you will need to take your case to trial. It is essential to properly prepare for a trial, as this will likely be your last opportunity to recover any compensation for your injuries. It can take several months to prepare for trial. Your lawyer will conduct formal discovery to obtain additional evidence and information to use in your case.
A civil trial typically lasts a few days or weeks, though it can run longer in especially complicated cases. If the judge or jury rules in your favor, you will receive compensation for your injuries. If they do not, you may walk away with nothing. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer can fight for a favorable outcome at the negotiating table or in court.
It can take several months or years before you receive compensation for your injuries after a boat or jet ski accident in Georgia. However, remaining patient and letting the process play out is vital. Insurance companies count on plaintiffs’ frustration and impatience. They’ll take advantage of this to offer a lowball settlement. We won’t give up on obtaining the justice you deserve, and neither should you.
Factors That Determine How Long Before a Case Settles
While the general timeline of a boat or jet ski accident claim is a few months to a few years, there are a few factors that can lengthen or shorten the timeline of a case, such as:
- The extent of your injuries — The worse your injuries are, the more money you will need to make up for them, which can lengthen a case because the insurance company will want to pay a minimal amount to settle your claim. On the flip side, you’ll want to reach maximum medical improvement so your lawyer knows exactly how much your injuries cost you.
- Shared liability — If evidence shows that one party is clearly at fault for the accident, the case will probably be quicker. But the process could take longer if it is unclear who is to blame for the accident.
- Whether or not your case goes to trial — If your case goes to trial, that will likely add to the time it takes before you receive any compensation.
Contact a Georgia Boat and Jet Ski Accident Lawyer Today
While a boat or jet ski settlement won’t typically be secured overnight, the results can be worth waiting for. Having the right lawyer can make the experience much quicker and less stressful for you. If you’ve been injured in a boat or jet ski accident, contact Butler Kahn today for a free consultation with a Georgia boat and jet ski accident attorney.