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How Long Do Settlements Take? What You Need to Know

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident or slip-and-fall incident, you probably wonder when that settlement check will arrive.

How long does a settlement take? The short answer is that it depends on the specifics of your case. An attorney discusses the settlement process timeline in detail below.

Typical Timelines for Different Types of Settlements

The timeline for settlements can vary significantly depending on the case type. Read on to learn the average settlement time for a few different kinds of cases.

Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury cases can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to settle. If your case is relatively simple and involves no dispute about liability, it will settle sooner. If, on the other hand, negotiations sour or it’s not clear who is at fault, it can take many months to settle.

Defective Product Cases

defective power cord of home electrical appliance

Defective product cases can take several months to five years to settle. These cases often take longer to settle than personal injury claims because they are more complex. The reason why is that you’ll have to prove one of these elements:

  • The design of the product was flawed.
  • The manufacturing process was defective.
  • The manufacturer failed to notify you of the product’s risks or side effects.

Workers’ Compensation

If you’re hurt at work in New Jersey, workers’ compensation should begin paying benefits within seven days of the injury. However, if there is a dispute with your claim, it can take several weeks to over a year to settle. On average, workers’ compensation claims settle within about six months.

Wrongful Death Settlements

Wrongful death cases can take many months to settle because of their complexity. Surviving family members must prove negligence, calculate damages, and determine who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. All of these processes can take weeks to months.

Class Action Settlements

Class action settlements are like the “big brother” of product liability suits. Instead of a single plaintiff, these cases can have dozens or even hundreds of plaintiffs.

How long does a settlement take for a class action suit? On average, these cases take two to three years to settle.

Factors Influencing Settlement Time

man using calculator with clock in front

Settlement completion time can vary widely because several different factors are involved. Next, we will discuss some factors affecting the timeframe for settlements.

Nature and Complexity of Transaction

It may go without saying, but the more complex your case is, the longer it will take to settle. For instance, if your lawyer has to track down hard-to-find witnesses who can help prove negligence, your case will take longer.

Your case may also stretch for months if your lawyer wants to wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) to calculate damages. Waiting until you’ve reached MMI ensures an accurate calculation, but it can extend the settlement timeline.

Jurisdictional Regulations

The city or state where the accident happened can also affect the settlement timeline. Cities, counties, and states can have varying regulations and laws. For the speediest resolution, hire an attorney familiar with local laws.

Participation of Multiple Parties

If your case involves you and just one other party, it will generally settle fairly quickly. However, the case becomes much more complex when multiple parties are involved.

It can take months to find all involved parties, file claims with each insurance company, and negotiate a fair settlement.

Amount of Evidence To Review

Having a lot of evidence is a good thing, but the more evidence there is to review, the longer your case will take to settle. This is especially true if your lawyer needs to subpoena evidence. Phone records, for instance, can take six weeks or more to collect.

Common Delays in Settlements and How To Manage Them

Next, we will cover some common delays and settlements and provide tips on how to manage them.

Identification of Additional Parties or Claims

If additional parties are involved, a case can become very complicated. This is because each party has their own insurance company and possibly their own claim.

When a case involves multiple parties, there is often some dispute over who is liable. Insurance companies will fight aggressively to shift liability however they can.

Hiring a lawyer to help you is wise if your case involves multiple parties. They can identify every party and ensure insurance companies don’t drag things out too long.

Negotiation Deadlocks

Many cases stall during the negotiation stage. The insurance company might try to downplay your injuries or claim you’re asking for too much money for emotional distress. They’ll offer a low settlement and say, “Take it or leave it.”

Never accept any settlement offer without talking to your lawyer first. If the offer doesn’t cover your damages, your lawyer will negotiate for more.

Document Collection and Review

The document collection process commonly causes settlement delays, but a good lawyer can help you avoid major setbacks. To assist your lawyer, keep copies of all important documents, such as medical bills and proof of lost wages.

Step-by-Step Process of Settlement and the Time Involved

increasing stack of wooden blocks with red flag on top

How long does a settlement take, and what happens during the settlement process? Here, find a breakdown of the steps and time involved.

Initial Negotiation and Communication

First, your lawyer will calculate your damages and send an initial demand to the insurance company. In New Jersey, the insurance company has 45 days to settle your claim. However, if the insurance company requires more evidence, it can extend the deadline.

Exchange of Documentation and Evidence

Your lawyer must also exchange evidence and documentation with the other party. Depending on the amount and complexity of the evidence, this process can take a few weeks to several months.

Mediation or Arbitration Sessions

In some cases, it may be possible to go through mediation to settle grievances between parties. Mediation usually completes in a few weeks or less.

Finalizing Settlement Terms and Agreements

Once your lawyer has reached an agreement with the insurance company, all that’s left to do is finalize the settlement terms. You’ll sign a release form, which is an agreement that bars you from pursuing further damages in exchange for a settlement.

The insurance company then sends the settlement check to your lawyer. This usually happens within four to six weeks of signing the release form.

Negotiation and Mediation in Settlements

Negotiation and mediation play important roles in the settlement process. If you would prefer to limit the duration of settlement negotiations, mediation can help you achieve that goal. Learn more about how it works below.

Role of Negotiation and Mediation

Mediation is an alternate dispute resolution process aimed at guiding parties toward a mutually agreeable solution. During mediation, you and any other involved parties meet with a neutral third party who serves as a facilitator.

This facilitator does not provide legal advice or make any decisions. Rather, their goal is to help parties understand each other and present possible solutions.

Mediation is preferable to a court trial for its speed. A court case could drag on for over a year, but mediation is often over in just a few hours.

Additionally, mediation is cheaper than going to trial. The mediation process is also amicable rather than combative. Mediation is a wise choice if you’d prefer to maintain a good relationship with the other party.

Timeframes for Negotiation and Mediation

It is often possible to complete the mediation process in as little as a day. However, if your case is complicated or you can’t immediately reach an agreement with the other party, mediation could take a few days or weeks to complete.

Compare this to the average court trial timeline, and it’s easy to see why mediation is preferable.

Implementing Strategies for Efficient Negotiations

You don’t need to go to law school to have an effective mediation session. Follow these strategies for good negotiations during mediation:

  • Separate the person from the problem. Don’t attack the other party’s character, as doing so will escalate tensions and make it harder to reach an agreement.
  • Try to find common ground. For example, neither party wants to go to court, so it’s in both parties’ interest to find an acceptable solution through mediation.
  • Offer multiple solutions and be flexible. Presenting just one solution can make the other party feel as if they’re backed into a corner.

Tips for Efficient Settlement Processes

clients shake hands after settlement agreement with attorney

How long does a settlement take? Several months to over a year, in some cases. However, you can follow these tips to speed up the settlement process.

Clear Communication Among Involved Parties

Poor communication is one of the biggest causes of settlement delays. Often, parties bicker for weeks or months, never coming any closer to an agreement. This is incredibly frustrating for everyone involved.

It is wise to have all communications go through your lawyer to avoid unproductive disputes. Your lawyer will keep the discussion on track and focused on finding a solution.

Proper Documentation and Information Sharing

As mentioned above, keeping and organizing important documents is a must. If you dispose of these documents, your lawyer must spend extra time tracking down copies.

Keep copies of any document that relates to the incident. These might include recent paystubs, medical bills, doctor’s notes, and car repair bills.

Keep electronic copies of documents for the speediest information sharing. This allows you to share them instantly instead of waiting on the postal service, which can be rather slow.

Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

If you want a settlement as quickly as possible, consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation. Mediation is much faster than going through a trial. If negotiations go smoothly, reaching a resolution in just a few hours is possible.

Emerging Trends in Settlement Practices

Emerging trends may help you settle sooner. Learn about some of them here.

Technology’s Role

Technology, such as virtual conferencing software, can help resolve your case quickly. Parties can discuss solutions online instead of meeting in person, which can be inconvenient.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Given its speed and relatively low cost, mediation is skyrocketing in popularity. Today, only a small number of cases proceed to trial. The vast majority of cases are settled in mediation.

What Is the Timeline for Fund Disbursement Following the Agreement on a Settlement?

How long does a settlement take? That depends on the factors we discussed above. Once you’ve reached an agreement, the settlement check typically arrives in four to six weeks. Your lawyer will deduct their fee from the check and then give you the remainder.

If you have more questions about settlement duration, contact Sadaka Law at (800) 810-3457 to clarify your rights and responsibilities and detail the steps involved even further should you decide to move forward with a claim. Our firm assists with product liability, workers’ compensation denials, and personal injury cases.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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