As a victim of a car accident that you didn’t cause, you may have suffered serious injuries—and huge medical bills to treat them. Creditors are calling. You have a wrecked vehicle, and need to repair it so you can get to work and the grocery store. In extreme cases, you need to pay for home modifications or purchase wheelchairs or prosthetics.
You hired a car accident lawyer, but the money from your claim hasn’t come in yet, and you wonder when it will so you can pay your bills and get out from under this mountain of debt. You also want to know why it’s taking so long.
Here, we answer those questions for you—but first, we pose a solution:
The fastest path to settling your case is to hire an experienced car accident lawyer.
In personal injury cases like car accidents, your lawyer doesn’t get paid more if the case takes longer—your lawyer will get a percentage of the settlement or judgment, not an hourly fee. Consequently, it’s in your best interests as well as your car accident lawyer’s to work to reach a fair settlement as efficiently as possible—and a good car accident lawyer knows how to do just that. On the other hand, the defense often does pay its lawyers by the hour—and the longer the case takes to settle, the more it can cost them.
That’s why the other side probably offered you a quick settlement, and it seems like a lot of money. Chances are, however, it won’t begin to cover all of your costs. It may not seem like it now, but with a car accident lawyer working to get you a fair settlement, the wait is usually worth it.
Why Some Car Accident Cases Take Longer to Settle
Safety and Health Were Not Prioritized
There’s a reason that every attorney will insist that you make your health your top priority after a car accident.
It can be difficult to worry about your safety and recovery after a car accident. You’ve probably already viewed numerous articles that cite various steps you need to take after a crash. These steps are important and helpful.
However, the steps are only guidelines, which cannot be followed if your injuries prove fatal or debilitating. You should prioritize ensuring that you receive adequate medical attention as soon as possible after a crash no matter how minor you believe your injuries to be.
There’s another reason to prioritize your safety and health after a car accident. If you fail to seek a medical evaluation following an accident, your case may take additional time to reach a settlement.
The personal injury claims process may be delayed because:
- Most personal injury cases only settle once the victim is recovered or a path to recovery is clear.
- This can only be achieved if the victim’s injuries are properly diagnosed (thus allowing for adequate treatment).
- The reason for this is simple: it’s easier to understand how much total compensation may be required.
- Inadequate or delayed treatment can lengthen the recovery process.
- You may not devote your full effort to pursuing your claim if you are not properly recovered from your injuries.
Insufficient Information Collected at the Scene
It is important to gather sufficient evidence at the scene of the accident to support your claim. However, the failure to do so is not always the fault of any party involved in a crash. Sometimes, due to damage or other circumstances, it’s all but impossible to spend time taking pictures or talking to witnesses after a car accident. A judge will not dismiss your case immediately if this evidence is missing. It is possible, however, that your case may take additional time to settle.
Some information to aim to collect from the scene of a car accident includes:
- Contact details for other drivers involved | Name, phone number, and driver’s license information should all be noted, if possible. You should ask other drivers if they’re open to providing recorded statements, which can benefit the case later, but remember they are at liberty to turn down your request.
- Witness’ contact information | The police who respond to your accident should take actual witness statements. All you need to worry about are their names and phone numbers. This allows for easy contact in the future should you or your attorney need to contact any witnesses.
- Photographs and/or videos of damage | “Damage” includes property damage to your car and physical injuries to your body. If you have access to a camera, try to take pictures of whatever instances of damage or injury you can. Some other things can be helpful to photograph, too, like skid marks near the accident scene.
You’re Tangled up With an Insurance Company
What is the easiest way to handle insurance companies that try to speak to you after your accident? Avoid communicating with them entirely. However, this excludes any interaction where you report the accident to your own insurance company, which is legally mandated.
You’ll probably be contacted by insurance agents before you even realize you need an attorney. These experts move in quickly after an accident to try to leverage victims’ confusion and fear. The best course of action is to delay discussions with insurance agents until you’ve retained an attorney.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in discussions with these parties. Insurance representatives can add immense complexity to the legal process, make your attorney’s job more difficult, and give the insurance company more power in court.
Your Accident Was Unique or Severe
Some circumstances can lead to accident cases that require more time than average to settle. Crashes with very large vehicles, for example, often result in a considerable amount of physical damage. Significant damages may translate to a longer settlement process.
If you get into an accident with a commercial vehicle, that could extend the legal process, too. Semi-trucks operators, for example, often carry numerous insurance policies. Victims of rideshare accidents may need to deal with three, four, or even five insurance companies total to settle their claim.
In addition, injured parties must identify all potentially liable parties. The concept of liability, which may be shared among multiple parties, can become deeply complex. Not every crash only involves two drivers or parties. Some accidents involve commercial vehicles that may involve liability for:
- Passenger car drivers
- Commercial vehicle drivers
- Commercial vehicle companies
- Commercial vehicle maintenance workers and companies
While You Wait for Your Case to Settle
It can feel difficult to wait for your claim to progress through settlement negotiations. Once the legal process begins, it tends to involve a lot of back and forth between injured parties and insurance company representatives. It’s very rare that a case ever settles as quickly as a victim hopes.
There are some steps victims can take to help ease stress at home and expedite their cases, including:
- Contacting medical providers’ billing departments to sort out medical bills, arrange payment plans, and so on.
- Looking over your employer’s policies on subjects pertaining to time off and disability.
- Getting in touch with your creditors to manage payments before they get out of hand. Mortgage and auto lenders, in particular, can help simplify intimidating expenses.
One factor that may influence a case’s time to settlement is the defendant’s desired compensation. More severe damages, which typically result in higher settlements, may translate to a longer legal process.
Your attorney can offer more insight into what damages you may recover after a car accident, but they may include:
- Medical bills | This includes past, present, and future medical bills acquired as a result of the accident. It can also include specialty services like emergency transport. Physical therapy, medical equipment, and a range of other expenses are all potentially covered
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish | Compensation given for these damages helps account for some of a victim’s mental and physical pain. Car accidents can lead to immense physical discomfort; the legal system recognizes that victims deserve some compensation for this
- Property damage | This includes damage to your vehicle and any possessions inside of it
- Lost wages or diminished earning potential | If your overall earning potential has lowered due to your accident or you can’t work
- Vehicle repair and towing
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
Leading Causes of Car Accidents
In the United States, car accidents cause over 90 deaths every single day. Unfortunately, fatal car accidents have become commonplace on our roadways. When you are behind the wheel, whether driving in rural farmland or in a bustling city, you are at risk of being involved in an accident.
Most times, it is impossible to prevent accidents caused by other driver’s negligent or reckless behavior. However, understanding behaviors that commonly lead to car accidents may allow you to identify risky situations in the future.
A wide range of factors may lead to a car accident in a variety of circumstances. The following list offers some insight into some of the most common causes of car accidents. However, keep in mind that the list is not comprehensive. Common factors that contribute to car accidents include:
Driving Under the Influence
We are all aware that driving under the influence can be extremely dangerous and lead to fatal car accidents. However, some people, nonetheless, insist on driving after drinking anyway. Nearly 30 Americans die every single daydue to negligent drivers who operate their vehicles under the influence. In the United States, almost one-third of all traffic-related deaths are associated with impaired driving.
If you believe that you have encountered a driver under the influence on a roadway, you should first try to distance yourself from the vehicle. If you believe others may be in danger, you may want to contact local authorities. Cars that demonstrate a persistent inability to maintain their lanes are likely operated by inebriated drivers.
Many stimuli may contribute to dangerous distractions. Texting, eating, and turning to talk to a child in the backseat while at the wheel are all examples of actions that distract drivers. Of course, many of us refrain from browsing social media while speeding down the freeway. But many of us would also not think twice about turning to the backseat to smile at our child.
In one recent year, more than 3,000 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving in the United States. Thousands of Americans give into distractions while driving on a daily basis. At almost all times, there is a good chance that you are sharing the roadway with a distracted driver.
There’s no surefire way to pinpoint a distracted driver (unless you can physically see what is distracting them). The unpredictability and subtly of driver distractions makes them difficult to avoid. A driver displaying severe road rage is, in some ways, easier to spot than a distracted driver. Always maintain a safe distance from drivers who appear distracted and keep your own eyes on the road.
Reckless driving, much like distracted driving, is a pervasive issue on American roadways. A wide variety of practices qualify as reckless driving. Some behaviors may be considered to be reckless under certain circumstances, while in other circumstances they would not.
Reckless vehicle operation is no major offense that can cause serious consequences. Each state maintains its own laws concerning the penalties imposed for reckless driving. Typically, reckless drivers may be subject to fines, jail time, and probation. Reckless behavior on crowded roadways put other drivers in significant danger. Even one aggressive or poorly-planned move can lead to disaster.
Some common examples of reckless driving include:
- Driving through crowded areas quickly or with little regard for space
- Driving in the wrong place or area (restricted areas, the middle of the road, etc.)
- Illegal or improper passing
- Failure to scan for pedestrians
Keep in mind that not all reckless drivers are aggressive or angry. Just because a driver does not seem emotional does not mean that he or she poses no risk to other drivers on the roadways.
Poor Road and/or Weather Conditions
In some cases, poor road or weather conditions will contribute to a car collision. Unfortunately, in many other scenarios, poor conditions only exacerbate already troubling circumstances. A reckless driver, for example, is likely to drive even more recklessly if he or she is in inclement conditions.
The best course of action to avoid accidents caused by weather or road conditions is avoiding driving in conditions that prevent you from safely operating your vehicle. You might opt to stay home or arrange a ride when you know you cannot drive well in the circumstances. On the other hand, it could also mean avoiding traveling at all because you know other drivers may be driving negligently.
An Ounce of Prevention
Over 400,000 car accidents occurred across the United States in one year alone. There is no doubt that these catastrophes pose a serious danger to all of us on the road. What can we do about it?
In some cases, a little bit of knowledge may allow attentive drivers to avoid accidents. When attentive drivers identify signs that another driver is inebriated or distracted, they can safely navigate away from the danger and inform local authorities, if appropriate.
On the other hand, despite the most cautious driving, accidents are oftentimes unavoidable. If you are injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. In Washington, injured victims have the right to file a personal injury claim against the parties who are responsible for their injuries. An understanding of the factors that play into your case and its settlement can ease your mind during the legal process.
One of the most important elements in a successful case is an empowered victim. You deserve to have your pain and suffering acknowledged. You also deserve to work with a skilled, trustworthy personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney regularly fights for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to. Because every case is unique, it is impossible to guarantee the outcome of your case.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Accelerate the Process
An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to identify with the other party or parties are using delay tactics and how to push them to negotiate in good faith—by presenting strong evidence of negligence on the part of the other driver and strong evidence of the compensation the other party owes you.
An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to quickly gather and preserve that evidence, too. Finally, a car accident attorney knows how to get your creditors off your back while your case remains open.
Nobody knows how long a particular case will take to settle, but rest assured, a car accident lawyer will work hard to find an equitable resolution for you as quickly as possible.
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