​How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

Money is often a major concern after you have suffered an injury in a car accident. Although you care about your physical recovery, the necessary treatment can be costly, and you might not be working while you recover. Expenses can pile up quickly in the wake of a car accident. Not only are you worried about how much you can get for your injuries, but you are also concerned with how soon you can get a check.

Even if your health insurance company covers part of your medical expenses, you may have co-payments and out-of-pocket thresholds. These bills are coming due at the same time that you may not have money coming in due to your inability to work.

Everything adds up to a stressful and difficult financial situation, and one of your main concerns is how soon you can resolve your case. Along with asking how much your case is worth, timing is one of the most frequent initial questions a lawyer receives.

Always begin the process of financial recovery as soon as possible following your car accident. The first step is to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer. They can evaluate your rights and answer your questions.

Nobody Can Ever Give You an Exact Answer to This Question

Unfortunately, an attorney cannot give you the answer you want when you ask this question. They cannot give you a definitive timetable for when you can get your money, nor can they promise you that you can get your money quickly. Instead, the best answer that an attorney can give you is that a settlement will take as long as necessary for you to get the full amount of money you are due for your car accident injuries.

The insurance company wants you to be pressed and worrying about money. In their estimation, the more concerned you become, the more likely you are to accept their paltry settlement offer. They know full well that you need money, and they are the ones who have the large account to write a check. They try to take advantage of what they perceive to be your desperation to figuratively tighten the screws on you. Their biggest fear is that you will hire an experienced car accident attorney who will advise you to say no to their lowball offer.

​How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement TakeYou Must Take Initial Steps Before You Can File a Claim

Before you can even file a car accident claim, you must do everything in your power to put yourself in a position to seek money. From your perspective, it means that you have seen a doctor and have gotten a medical diagnosis and course of treatment.

The time to file a claim is usually when you reach the point of maximum medical improvement after your accident. This term refers to the point where further medical treatment will not improve your condition. Depending on the extent of your injury, you may need to have several surgical procedures and go through rehabilitation before you know how much you may recover. It may take longer to understand the nature and extent of your injuries when you suffer a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury.

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You Cannot File a Claim Overnight

You must also prepare for the legal process before filing a claim. The first step that you must take is hiring an experienced car accident attorney. You should do this as soon as possible after the accident because time is of the essence. If you cannot call and interview prospective personal injury attorneys, you should have a trusted family member do it. The longer you wait to hire a lawyer, the more you may jeopardize your chances of receiving financial compensation.

To even receive a settlement offer, you must persuade the insurance company that its driver is the party at fault for your injury. Proving fault requires that you assemble the evidence necessary to show what happened in the accident and compare it to what a reasonable driver should have done under the circumstances. It can take your attorney some time to interview witnesses and back up your contentions that someone else was to blame for your injuries.

Filing a Claim Simply Begins the Legal Process

Once you file a claim, it is just the beginning of the legal process. The insurance company will likely wait to respond to you. If you have filed a demand letter, the insurance company can take several months before they even give you a response to your claim. The response is almost certainly not going to be the one you were hoping for, meaning that they will pay the full amount of damages you requested. They may either deny your claim entirely or they may make you a settlement offer.

You Will Need to Negotiate Financial Compensation

The one certainty in the claims process is that the initial settlement offer will not be for the full amount of your damages. Chances are, the initial offer will not even be close to the amount that you deserve. In many cases, the insurance company throws the initial offer out there as either a placeholder or a means of testing what you will accept.

In some cases, they may get lucky, and the plaintiff does not know what they deserve in damages. In your case, since you have hired an attorney, you will know that the offer was low because your attorney will have estimated the value of your claim before you filed it.

The initial exchange of figures between you and the insurance company is often just the start of a lengthy negotiation. You are both keeping one eye on the statute of limitations In case you need to go to court. If your car accident claim is large, you will likely need to exchange several sets of proposals and counter-proposals with the insurance company.

Each time you respond to one of their offers, they will take their own time to get back to you with their own offer. The back and forth will add many months to your case. In the meantime, you must remain patient because this is all part of the personal injury process. The insurance company has been doing business this way since practically the beginning of insurance companies.

At some point, you and the insurance company will get closer to an actual settlement. You may get fortunate and have this happen earlier in the legal process. For example, if your damages were extensive, the insurance company may be willing to settle for the policy limits more quickly because they realize that you might easily get this amount in court.

You Need to Build Evidence that Proves Your Case

The insurance company will usually take a “prove it” attitude toward your claim. They will wait as long as possible, with the burden of proof on you as the claimant. Therefore, you must ensure that you put your best foot forward when filing your claim with the insurance company. If not, your claim can result in a denial, and you may have to begin litigation. Taking the time to compile a persuasive and well-documented claim can save you future stress in the claims process.

Of course, there may be a limit to what you can do In the claims process. So much of your experience depends on the insurance company and its own strategic objectives. The insurance company will always place its own interests first, and every decision will reflect what it believes is best for its own finances.

You May Need to File a Lawsuit to Get a Settlement

In some cases, you might either decide to begin the legal process in court, or you may have to because the insurance company refuses to accept liability or make a fair offer. If that is the case, it can extend your case timeline. The insurance company usually has little motivation to settle early in the case because it wants to see the strength of the evidence that your attorney can develop.

You will likely need to go through some or all of the discovery process, when you can obtain information from the defendant. When the insurance company sees that you have assembled a strong case, they may be more motivated to settle. When an insurance company is on the defensive, settlement offers suddenly get much more generous.

Even a Lawsuit May Mean an Eventual Settlement

Very few personal injury lawsuits actually end up in front of a jury. Most of them will settle at some point during the process. Both you and the insurance company have the motivation to settle because you both want to reduce your own risk. However, getting a trial date in your case can take between one and two years.

The insurance company often becomes serious about settling your case as the trial date approaches. The advantage may shift to you at that point because they are beginning to realize the full extent of their liability. They know that a jury is more likely to award you more damages than they need to pay in a settlement.

You Can Take Some Control Over Your Legal Process

While much of the timing of the legal process is outside your control, there are some things that you can do to speed up the process. The first thing within your power is when you contact and hire an experienced personal injury attorney. You should not wait to do this. Finding the right attorney may take some time, so you should begin the search as soon as possible.

Then, you should be as diligent as possible about your medical treatment, both by seeing a doctor and following their recommendations. This can accelerate the timetable of when you can file your claim. In addition, following medical recommendations will also help mitigate your damages and avoid the frequent argument that the insurance company uses that you did not get proper medical care.

In addition, you should document your case as well as possible to save your attorney some time and effort. While you may be limited in what you can do to help prepare your claim, anything you can do to make your attorney’s life easier can enable them to file a more persuasive claim more quickly.

Do Not Rush Just to Get a Settlement Agreement

The last thing you want is to take less money than you deserve because you have your eye on an artificial clock. In many cases, the longer you can hold out and fight, the more the insurance company will raise its offer. While the insurance company thinks that time is on their side, it may actually be on yours. The more patient you are as a plaintiff, the more money you can get.

Let your attorney do their job and what they are good at by putting pressure on the insurance company. Although an attorney cannot guarantee that the insurance company will be more reasonable and raise its offer, the usual practice is that they will offer more money when you reject low offers.

Prepare Yourself for a Long Legal Process

Tatiana-BoohoffBe prepared for a process that can last for an indeterminate amount of time. If you are patient and work with your personal injury attorney closely, you may get better results. If you can show that someone else was at fault for the accident, you may get the financial compensation you need to pay for your care and cover the rest of your damages.

In general, although it is easier said than done, you should not be fixated on a specific date for a settlement agreement. The real answer to this question of how long a car accident settlement will take is as long as necessary to get the full compensation you legally deserve. You are not a passive bystander in the car accident settlement process. Instead, with an aggressive and experienced attorney on your side, you can move forcefully to obtain the financial compensation you deserve.

October 5, 2022
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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!”
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