How Long Does It Take To Get a Settlement After a Car Accident?
In 2021, 62 million injuries impacted Americans, with 5.4 million caused by car accidents. Unless they find a trustworthy and reliable car accident lawyer, most victims navigate recovery with minimal assistance.
If you're the victim of a motor vehicle accident, you're likely wondering how long you'll wait for a settlement. The answer depends on multiple factors.
In this article, we'll discuss those factors and provide a general timeline for when you can expect a settlement. Take a minute to learn more about what you can expect.
How Serious Was Your Accident?
If you've had a severe accident, it may take longer to reach a settlement. Complex cases with extensive injuries and damage can take longer to assess.
You're likely wondering what constitutes a severe accident and why it should matter. After all, you're the victim, and the sooner you can receive a settlement, the faster you can get back to normal.
Often, the professionals handling your case want to wait until you've reached a point of maximum medical improvement. Doing so allows for a more accurate assessment of your long-term medical needs. This helps prevent a settlement from not being high enough to cover your costs.
If there is property damage, that could prolong the settlement process as well. To assess the extent of property damage takes time. It requires additional time to get repair estimates and negotiate settlements with auto repair shops.
The heavier the property damage, the longer the settlement takes.
Injury Recovery Timeline Impacts Settlement
Victims of severe car accidents often have injuries that take months, sometimes years, to complete recovery. The recovery period can play a significant role in figuring out the timeline for settling a car accident claim.
Here are some of the considerations that impact when you might get a settlement offer:
- Medical treatment progress
- Rehabilitation and therapy
- Complications and setbacks
- Medical expert opinions
- Communication with medical providers
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
Adding to the timeline is the insurance adjuster review. Insurance adjusters must review all medical records and bills. This process helps the adjuster assess the validity of injury claims.
It's often a time-consuming process, especially if the adjuster needs to deal with complex medical issues and multiple medical providers.
Disputes Over Who Is at Fault
It's not uncommon to have disputes over liability. Sometimes, the parties involved provide conflicting accounts of what happened. This can put a wrench in your lawyer's ability to get a quick settlement.
Determining fault in California often requires a thorough investigation. Here's what your attorney (and the insurance adjuster) must review:
- Accident reports
- Witness interviews
- Traffic camera footage
- Physical evidence
Gathering and evaluating this information takes time. If the circumstances surrounding the accident are complex or disputed, it can add even more time.
Speaking of conflicting information, don't forget the official police report. These reports play an essential role in establishing liability. Sometimes, the initial police report contains errors or inconsistencies.
Corrections to errors in the initial report can be a lengthy process. Car accident attorneys and insurance companies sometimes need to work with law enforcement to correct these types of issues. Getting a police report amended can take time, adding to your settlement timeline.
What happens if liability remains disputed?
If the professionals managing your insurance settlement can't resolve the dispute, it's possible that legal proceedings may be necessary. Your car accident attorney may need to file a lawsuit. Litigation is often time-consuming because it requires motions, discovery, and court appearances.
Another Crucial Player in Settlements
While your car accident attorney works on your behalf to settle your claim, there's another player who can slow the process down. Insurance companies can significantly influence the timeline of your settlement. They also influence the overall outcome.
Why are insurance companies so significant?
To understand this, you'll want to think about the role of insurance companies. They serve as guardians of risk mitigation.
When you buy an insurance policy, you hope it protects you from financial losses. You depend on your insurance company to offer the financial protection you need in case you have a car accident.
Once you file a claim with your provider, they will begin the claim process. The insurance company assigns an adjuster to investigate the claim. They go through many of the things already covered in this article, such as evaluating damage, assessing the validity of the claim, and determining the amount the insurance company is willing to pay as compensation.
If the provider is responsive and processes the claim efficiently, it helps reduce the amount of time you must wait for settlement. If you're the victim of a car accident and the other party is liable, you'll have to wait for their provider to complete the claims process.
This is the claims process in a very small nutshell. There are multiple layers that we'll not cover in this article. The timeline for settling an insurance claim can vary widely based on the above and other factors.
Insurance companies that are open to reasonable negotiation and swift resolution can significantly reduce the time it takes to reach an agreement.
What Happens to the Timeline If You Go to Court?
If you watch enough court TV, you'll believe most people involved in civil and criminal cases end up in the courtroom. As far as personal injury cases go, only about 5% end up in litigation.
That's good news because it means there's likely a lawyer for a car accident who can successfully negotiate your settlement without taking it to court.
How does going to court impact the settlement timeline?
When talking about car accidents with injuries, a rear-end collision is less likely to make it to court than a t-bone car accident. That's because it's much easier to determine fault.
In this case, the resolution can take considerably longer compared to settling outside of court. The duration of a car accident lawsuit can vary based on several factors, including:
- Complexity of the case
- Court procedures
- Court docket
From filing a lawsuit to a car accident settlement, you may have to wait anywhere from one to several years. That's why it's so critical to find a good car accident law firm to represent you.
Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Wouldn't it be nice if car accident victims could know immediately how much money they could expect from a settlement?
It would make getting back to normal so much easier. There would be fewer worries about returning to work or school, and victims could take care of medical bills immediately rather than waiting on the insurance claim process.
The truth is that while there are average settlement amounts, every victim's case is unique. There is no magic number or secret formula you can use to predict the amount of your settlement.
A car accident lawyer can give you average amounts based on their experiences. For some victims, a settlement could be a thousand dollars; for others, it could be in the millions.
Let's look at some of the factors that determine how much you could receive for your settlement.
Factors That Determine Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Several factors help determine how much car accident victims receive in their settlements. Remember that every victim has unique details about their case that can impact the settlement amount.
These key factors can influence the amount of a car accident settlement:
Liability and Fault
The determination of who is at fault for the accident is a fundamental factor. If the other party is clearly at fault, compensation usually comes from their insurance company. Disputed or shared liability can impact the settlement amount.
Injuries and Medical Expenses
The severity of your injuries and your medical expenses play a critical role. If you have severe injuries, your settlement could be higher than the average.
Pain and Suffering
Compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering is often a substantial part of a settlement. The extent of your suffering can affect this portion of the settlement.
Lost Wages and Earnings Capacity
If you've missed work or can't make as much money in the future due to your injuries, it could add to the settlement. Your attorney can negotiate for compensation for lost income and potential future earnings.
Insurance Policy Limits
The insurance policy limits of the at-fault party matter a great deal. If the at-fault party has limited insurance coverage, it may affect the maximum amount you can recover from their policy.
Laws governing personal injury and liability can vary by state. These laws can impact the settlement amount.
Keep in mind that these are just a few of the factors that influence insurance settlement. Your attorney will discuss other factors that could impact your case. They can also help you understand the long-term effects and how those could impact your settlement.
Finding the 'Best Car Accident Lawyer Near Me' Is Easy
When you search for a 'car accident lawyer near me' and find Daniels Law, you've discovered the best car accident attorney in Van Nuys. We've handled car injury claims, both big and small.
Because so many factors determine the amount of a settlement, we advise contacting us and scheduling a consultation. Let us help you figure out the best way to get whole again after you suffer injuries in a car accident.