Minor claims for personal injuries in Los Angeles may take about six months to reach a conclusion. Where severe injuries are involved, the time required for resolution is likely to be two years or more. The cost of litigation to the insurance company is much more than it is to the plaintiff (the victim who files the claim).
In most personal injury cases the insurance adjustor makes an initial offer and tries to settle quickly. If that effort fails, the company gets down to negotiating. It is an art, but time-consuming. If a seasoned lawyer is appearing for the victim, he is sure to obtain a good settlement, provided all the details furnished to him are correct. The services of insurance company adjustors turned settlement counselors are obtainable. They know all the ropes. Also available are online tools and software to help the plaintiff.
From time to time the lawyer will keep the client informed about the progress of the negotiations, and also his recommendation when the final offer from the insurance company is received. It is for the client to accept or reject. The details of the proposal should be studied, and doubts clarified with the lawyer. If a settlement is accepted, the insurance company could be instructed to pay the lawyer and the medical bills directly. Sometimes the lawyer might accept the offer without referring to the client. This is improper, and the client could protest. Normally the insurance company issues the settlement check jointly in favor of the client and the lawyer.
There is a system known as ‘structured settlement,’ which is gaining popularity. Here the settlement money is paid over a period of time. It offers many initial options, and the money is kept in funds that allow it to grow. The recipient must make sure that the fund is a protected one. Once the structured settlement plan is accepted, it may not be possible to change the terms.
Settlement payments are tax-free. But if that money is invested, the income thereof could be taxable. Structured settlements offer better tax benefits. This is a matter to be discussed with a tax consultant.
If a minor is involved in a settlement, there could be complications. Court approval may be necessary.