The Long Road to Yes (Part 1)

Auto accident involving two cars

One question clients and others always ask me is, “How long does it take to settle a case?” My standard lawyer answer is, “it depends.” There are dozens, if not hundreds, of factors that affect both the value and the timeline of a personal injury case.

When my client A got rear ended in August of 2017, I did not expect his case would take until February of 2022 to resolve.

But that’s what happened. Below, I will give you some of the reasons why things took so long.

Elements Affecting A’s Case

A got rear ended while he was stopped. That certainly sounds like a “slam dunk” easy case, right?

As in all things personal injury, not so fast!

There was a laundry list of things that complicated this particular case. Among the highlights:

  • The driver who hit him was uninsured;
  • He did not realize the extent of his injuries immediately;
  • His injuries required surgery;
  • That surgery was a disaster and had to be corrected by another surgeon;
  • The second surgery required recovery time;
  • The other side on the case hired a medical expert;
  • I had to take the deposition of that expert;
  • I obtained a medical narrative report from A’s doctor.

Suffice it to say, this was not an easy or quick to resolve case.

No Insurance, No Problem — Or Is it?

The other driver who hit A did not have valid insurance. The good news is that A was insured well and had a policy with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage.

I made a claim against A’s insurance under the Uninsured Motorist portion of the State Farm policy. As I always do, I read the policy and determined that a demand for arbitration was required. I also named an arbitrator and demanded that the insurer name their own. This puts pressure on the insurer to take the case seriously and also checks off a requirement in the policy. Failure to do this may cause the claim to be denied as invalid. That’s why I always send a letter demanding arbitration as soon as I know UM may be involved.

Meanwhile, A’s injuries were becoming more apparent. A had not realized that his arms were going numb immediately after the accident; it took about a month or so to diagnose that he had a serious neck injury, causing his discs to press on the nerves of his spine.

He shuttled between doctors and physical therapy, but there was no consensus on the need for immediate surgery. Instead, A pursed a course of physical therapy, then received several epidural injections into his cervical spine to reduce the swelling that was causing the numbness and pain. That offered temporary relief, but it did not last.

Things continued to deteriorate for A. He lost the ability to play hockey, exercise, sit at a computer, and, most significantly, pick up his small children. He grew anxious and depressed. In the midst of all this, he endured a significant change in his employment situation.

Surgery Takes Away the Pain…Or Does It?

About a year and a half after his crash, A finally had neck surgery, in which several levels of discs were removed, along with portions of bony areas, in order to take the pressure off his spinal nerves.

Unfortunately, the surgery was a botched mess. He did not have relief of his numbness or pain. In fact, he had problems with not even being able to feel his arms or hands for a period of time after the surgery. Despite the surgeon assuring him all was well, A still was in pain. Something had to be wrong.

After almost another year of pursuing relief of his symptoms, A wound up getting a second, and then a third, opinion. The consensus was that the first surgeon had done a terrible job (even putting in the stabilization cage incorrectly). You may wonder if there was a medical malpractice case arising out of that. We considered it, but fortunately, the subsequent surgeon was able to repair most of the problems. A had very little permanent damage, thus making any medical malpractice case virtually valueless to him compared to the extreme costs of pursuing it.

Finally, A underwent a revision surgery in early 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down. That surgery, while not resolving every single symptom he had, brought immediate and significant relief to his pain and numbness.

Unfortunately, the relief of A’s physical pain did not solve all his problems.

In my next blog post, I’ll talk about how we relieved a different kind of pain: that of dealing with an insurance company determined to fight your reasonable claim. Stay tuned!

Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman

As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.

If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.

Categories: Auto Accidents