How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligent, careless, or reckless actions, the other driver may be liable for your injuries and losses. You can pursue compensation to cover your medical expenses and other related costs, but filing an injury claim and obtaining compensation can be challenging.

Since each car accident injury claim is unique, it’s impossible to determine exactly how long your settlement will take. Various factors will affect the settlement process, but there are things you can do to help expedite the process and get your money sooner rather than later.

To help speed up the process and ensure you submit a solid claim free from mistakes, you need to retain an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your claim for you. You can contact an experienced Tampa car accident attorney from Boohoff Law to discuss your options for getting the financial recovery you need.

The Car Accident Settlement Process

A car accident can cause victims to suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and care. In a matter of moments, your life can change forever, and you may be left to recover from your injuries while also trying to figure out how you will pay for your medical bills and support yourself and your family now that you can no longer work.

If you suffered injuries in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you will first file an injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You should have a car accident lawyer file your claim for you and deal with the insurance company so you don’t have to, and an attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes that could jeopardize your chances of getting compensation.

Filing a Car Accident Claim

Preparing a car accident injury claim and compiling the evidence you will need takes time, and your attorney will need to gather a lot of information and documentation, including:

  • Police reports
  • Your medical bills and treatment costs
  • Witness statements
  • Auto shop and property damage estimates
  • Evidence of your lost wages
  • Photographs or videos of the accident scene
  • Pictures of your injuries
  • Doctor’s notes and medical testimony regarding your injuries and their potential effect on your future

Your attorney will have to show that the other driver is liable for your injuries, and you incurred financial losses and deserve compensation for them. When they submit your injury claim to the insurance company, your lawyer will cite the driver’s policy as covering your injuries, and they will provide details of your injuries and their costs. Your lawyer will also include a settlement figure that the insurance company can pay to settle the claim and avoid going to court.

The insurance company will schedule an adjuster to investigate your claim to determine whether the policy covers your injuries and losses. In many cases, they will also respond to your demand letter with a settlement figure that is lower than what your attorney asked for. This opens the door for settlement negotiations, and your attorney should work with the insurance company to get them to offer more.

Settlement Negotiations

In Florida, insurance companies must acknowledge receipt of a claim within 14 days. They must also begin an investigation into the claim within 14 days of receiving “proof-of-loss” statements. Florida law also states that insurance companies have 90 days to “pay or deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to pay is caused by factors beyond the control.” However, no laws dictate how long settlement negotiations can last.

When your case settles, the insurance company will close your claim, and the settlement agreement will become legally binding. You will sign a waiver promising not to pursue additional compensation, and the insurance company will initiate the process of cutting your settlement check. Florida law requires insurance companies to pay a settlement within 20 days of signing the agreement.

Why Having a Car Accident Lawyer Is So Important

Insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests, and insurance adjusters may ask you for a recorded statement regarding the accident. They may also ask you questions or twist your words in ways that lead you into accepting blame for the crash, or they may claim the policy doesn’t cover your injuries and refuse to pay.

You should never provide a recorded statement to an insurance company without first speaking with your attorney, and you should let your attorney handle all communications with the insurance company regarding the accident and your injuries.

Ideally, you want a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling car accident claims and settlement negotiations with insurance companies. They should also have experience trying personal injury cases in court, and they should be able to provide documented results they have obtained for other clients with similar cases.

Do Not Rush to Accept a Quick Settlement

Once you settle your claim with the insurance company, you will not be able to pursue more compensation in the future. Therefore, you need to ensure you get a fair settlement to cover any further treatment or future medical care you may need.

An important aspect of any injury claim is to determine maximum medical improvement (MMI). Maximum medical improvement refers to the date after which you will likely have no further recovery from your injury or lasting improvement to your condition, based on “reasonable medical probability.” Maximum medical improvement does not mean you are not still recovering from your injury or dealing with its effects, it simply means that your condition will likely not get any better.

Therefore, you need to ensure your attorney works with your doctors to determine MMI in your case so you can pursue and obtain the compensation you need to cover all the expenses you will incur regarding medical care and treatment in the future.

Factors That Influence the Settlement Timeline

To begin, the statute of limitations in Florida provides that a car accident lawsuit must be filed within four years of the date of the accident. At the expiration of the statute of limitations, injured parties will be barred from bringing a claim. However, after filing, the time required to settle a car accident claim depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Complexity of the accident: If there are no injuries and the only items open for discussion are damages and loss, the process is fairly simple. However, the majority of car accidents are not straightforward and any complications can increase the time required to reach a settlement. The following questions may help determine whether the claims process will be simple or complex.
    • Are there serious damages, injuries, and possibly fatalities involved?
    • Was there a crime committed, such as drunk driving?
    • Was it a hit-and-run accident?
    • Was the accident caused by a government vehicle, such as a city bus, maintenance truck, or the city’s failure to warn about road construction?
    • Is someone disputing who was at fault for the accident?
  • Damages: Repair or replacement of property is a big part of any settlement. How much is your vehicle, home, or property worth? How much is it worth to you? Some losses may be difficult to assign a value to. An adequate settlement should be as close to covering all the losses as possible.
  • Repairs: From a banged-up fender, paint job, or a complete rebuild of your vehicle, repairs are expensive and you may be entitled to seek compensation for those expenses.
  • InjuriesInjuries can be much more expensive than repairing or replacing a vehicle. Beyond the costs of medical treatment, injured victims may miss time from work, require extensive rehabilitation services, or endure significant pain and suffering. Injury-related costs should be compensated by the parties responsible for causing the injury.
  • Number of parties involved: Settlements get more complicated as the number of parties involved increases. Passengers, bystanders, and pedestrians may be a part of the claim. In addition, multiple parties may potentially share liability for accident-related injuries. As the number of people involved grows, the length of the settlement process also increases.
  • The amount you are willing to settle for: Accidents that cause severe injuries can have devastating consequences, not only for injured victims but also for their families. When another’s negligence causes injuries, victims are entitled to compensation for the injuries and damage to their property. Don’t settle for less than your claim is worth. You should not bear the financial burden of injuries and losses you are not responsible for. However, you should expect a lengthier settlement process if you are not willing to settle for less.
  • The court process itself: The timelines for status hearings and other procedures of the claims process are established according to state statutes. Each of these steps provides the parties with additional information that may provide more leverage during settlement negotiations. Progressing through the timeline set by the court also drives the timeline of the settlement process.
      1. Discovery: During the discovery phase, information is shared between the insurance company attorneys and injured victims or their attorneys. Exchanged information may include police reports, medical reports, and bills for damages. An attorney can work with injured victims to gather the information required for discovery. Discovery is comprehensive and if you are currently undergoing treatment for recovery, this may cause delays in the process. In a car accident case, discovery adheres to deadlines, just as the rest of the process.
      2. Negotiation and mediation: Most settlements can be worked out in negotiation and mediation, saving time and reducing court costs and legal fees. Negotiations and mediations are confidential meetings between the parties to facilitate an agreement and resolution outside of court. Under these circumstances, the parties have more control over the outcome of the case than court proceedings, which allow a judge or jury to resolve the claim. Negotiations typically occur within the first several weeks of the claims process. Remember, however, the timeline for each case will vary depending on the unique facts of the case and the availability of a mediator.
      3. Hearings and trials: In a hearing or jury trial, a judge or a jury weighs the evidence presented to determine an appropriate outcome. Determinations made by judges and juries can be unpredictable. Injured victims may consult with an attorney to decide whether proceeding to trial is in their best interests. In many cases, backlogged court dockets may delay court proceedings for several months.

Keep in mind that if the verdict does not go your way, you can have your attorney file a request for appeal. However, the appeals court may only grant an appeal if your attorney can show judicial misconduct or procedural errors influenced the verdict.

Hiring an Attorney

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Car Accident Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

The claims process may feel as if it is taking forever because time can seemingly stand still when you are recovering from an injury, missing time from work, and bills are adding up. Hiring an attorney to handle the legal aspects of your car accident case can relieve significant stress in your life.

Experienced car accident attorneys can develop strategies for maximizing injured victims’ recovery while moving the case through the claims process as efficiently as possible. Skilled attorneys can guide injured victims’ approaches to resolving their claims and position them to successfully fight the claim in court if settlement negotiations prove to be unsuccessful.

The personal injury lawyers at Boohoff Law are ready to help you with all aspects of your car accident claim, from gathering evidence and filing the necessary paperwork to negotiating with the insurance companies or fighting them in court.

We are committed to you and your needs, and we promise to do all we can to help maximize your financial recovery so that you can focus on your physical recovery. Contact an experienced car accident attorney at our law firm for a free consultation to discuss the options for moving forward.

March 22, 2023
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“Boohoff Law definitely stands behind integrity. Tatiana is not only a fantastic attorney in her expertise, she’s also down-to-earth – truly a people person.”
– Elissa M.

“Really pleased with Boohoff Law! Received immediate responses when I had any questions. Treated amazingly by all staff … made this process a true breeze!”

– Caitlyn M.
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. They made me feel right at home.”
– Brandy K.

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“Boohoff Law definitely stands behind integrity. Tatiana is not only a fantastic attorney in her expertise, she’s also down-to-earth – truly a people person.”
– Elissa M.
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“Really pleased with Boohoff Law! Received immediate responses when I had any questions. Treated amazingly by all staff … made this process a true breeze!”
– Caitlyn M.
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“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. They made me feel right at home.”
– Brandy K.

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