The timing of a bicycle accident settlement is a critical issue for those who have been in an accident. Simply stated, money goes out for your share of unreimbursed medical expenses, while no money is coming into your account because you cannot work. Families feel they cannot hold out forever financially, even though the insurance company is making their life more difficult by not quickly paying the claim.
Even though your bicycle accident settlement will take time, you should not let it force you into accepting a below-value settlement. Hiring an experienced bicycle accident attorney can help you get the full amount of damages for your bicycle accident claim. Never accept any offers from insurance companies without first consulting with a bicycle accident attorney.
From your standpoint, you will also need to see a doctor and get a diagnosis of your medical condition. You may need to undergo surgeries and rehabilitation before you can be in the position to file a claim. Generally, you will need to reach the point of maximum medical improvement before you fully know the extent of your damage.
MMI is when further medical treatment will not make a difference in improving your medical condition. Depending on your injuries, you might reach this point in weeks or months. Regardless, it is your obligation to get medical treatment as soon as possible.
Your bicycle accident settlement often only comes after a long legal process. An attorney cannot tell you right off the bat how long your case may take from start to finish. There are many factors at work, and much depends on how the insurance company acts. The one certainty is that your lawyer will be there alongside you until your case has completely concluded.
Before you can even file your claim, you need to engage in significant legwork and preparation. The first and most important step in your case is contacting a bicycle accident attorney to get the legal representation you need. You should take the time to find an attorney you know can handle your case and with whom you are comfortable. Fortunately for you, nothing is standing in the way of you getting the legal help you need because your attorney works for you on a contingency basis.
Your attorney will need to do a significant amount of work before they can even approach the insurance company (assuming the insurance company is not rushing to approach you to pressure or trick you). They must investigate your bicycle accident, gather evidence, and assemble a case showing that the responsible driver breached their duty of care.
Your lawyer will need to act quickly because bicycle accident evidence is not available forever, and your case becomes much more difficult if the evidence is lost. It can take some time to analyze the evidence and track down witnesses.
Your lawyer will also need to take the time to come up with a detailed estimate of your damages. When you submit your claim to the insurance company, you will need proof of both liability and your damages. To deal with the insurance company and fend off their low settlement offers, you will need to know exactly how low they are.
An attorney will review your medical and employment records and consult with the necessary experts to learn how much you may be due in a bicycle accident settlement. This must be a detailed calculation with supporting evidence to put you in a stronger position in settlement negotiations.
Then, your attorney will help you determine whether it is best to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company or proceed directly to a lawsuit against the driver. Usually, you will begin with the insurance company. However, the fact that you are staying out of court may not mean much of a shortcut time-wise because of how insurance companies approach cases.
The insurance company will respond to you in one of two ways:
Insurance companies will make you a settlement offer more often. They know their potential liability, and what your case may cost them, so they may be more likely to play it safe and manage their own risk. Nonetheless, they may deny your claim if they do not believe you have presented enough evidence of liability or believe you were to blame for your own accident.
If the insurance company makes you a settlement offer, it is far from the end of your case. Instead, it is usually the beginning of what may be a long process. The insurance company knows that the negotiations can be long, and they will never make you their best offer first.
The first thing that will happen is that your lawyer will review the offer. The insurance company should have provided an itemized listing of your damages by each element. Chances are that each of these itemized elements is far short of what is necessary to fully compensate you. Know that this offer is far from the final one. It is often just a placeholder for a more substantial future offer.
Like any business, the insurance company is out for its own profits. They want to hang onto their money for as long as possible because it is invested and makes even more money. They also want to try to wear you down.
Also, like any business, the insurance company is an expert in negotiating tactics. They know never to make their best offer first and to leave themselves with a substantial amount of room to potentially raise that offer in negotiations. Any negotiator does not make their highest offer first, and the insurance company is no different. The practice is to begin very low and gradually raise a settlement offer.
In addition, the insurance company also wants to throw a low offer out to see whether you will bite. Some claimants (almost always those who do not have lawyers) may jump at the first available offer because they either need the money badly or may not even know they can negotiate with the insurance company.
The entire negotiation process takes both time and patience. The insurance company will sense when they are up against a weak hand. Your lawyer will handle the communications with them, and a patient client always makes the most effective one. What you absolutely cannot do is panic because it will cost you money from your settlement.
Depending on the value of your case, it may take several rounds of offers and counteroffers to begin to get to a point where your numbers are closer. The insurance company will not suddenly meet you in the middle after an initial exchange of offers. Chances are that any moves towards a common ground will happen gradually. Every successive exchange of dollar figures will take time.
Even though you need to negotiate with the insurance company, they do not get forever to move towards a more reasonable position. You have only a limited amount of time to reach an agreement with them because there is also a statute of limitations that begins to run the minute you have suffered an injury in a bicycle accident. Eventually, you might need to take your case to court if it does not appear that you are close to a settlement.
You may still reach a settlement agreement if you file a lawsuit against the driver. The insurance company is defending its policyholder, and you will negotiate with their defense counsel. Most personal injury cases do not end up going to trial, as they will settle before reaching a jury. The insurance company knows the risks, and they can even face a lawsuit for bad faith by their own client if they fail to settle when they can and should.
Once you reach a settlement agreement, it will not take long until the check is in your account. First, your lawyer will need to review the legal language of the settlement, since it is a binding contract. It can take the insurance company a little bit of time to cut the check. The insurer will deposit the funds into your lawyer’s escrow account, where parties who may have a claim against the settlement (medical providers, health insurance companies, etc.) can receive their fair share.
Once that happens, you will receive the balance of the proceeds. That part of the process can usually take a few weeks at the most. The hard part of the settlement process is actually agreeing on a number. The final steps are mostly administrative.
An attorney can never really give you an exact answer when you ask them how long a settlement will take. They can explain the process that has just been detailed and caution you that a settlement will take time. The last thing you want to do is give up your legal rights for a fraction of what they are worth because the insurance company is difficult. In that case, they win at your expense.
Although it is easier said than done, you must be patient and hold out for everything you deserve. Before you can get a settlement, you must sign a release agreement, which means you cannot come back for more money in the future. In other words, you only get one chance to settle a claim, so you must take your best shot now.
You will naturally focus on the timeframe of when you will get your money. However, you must not overly focus on time because that is exactly what the insurance company wants. They will not stop impatient claimants from accepting lowball settlements, and those claimants will have no options once they realize their mistake.
Do not risk making such errors and leaving money on the table. Instead, seek a free case evaluation from a bicycle accident attorney today.