Why Is My Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?

Why Is My Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?

Why Is My Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?

Car accidents can have one of the most devastating effects on your life. If you are a victim of an accident and have filed for a settlement claim, you must be wondering: Why is my car accident settlement taking so long? Sometimes, simply applying for an auto accident settlement in Yuba City, California, might not give you your desired results. 

The time it takes for the car accident settlement might depend on the severity of your injuries and the time it has taken for you to recover completely. Other factors also include the insurance of the driver and liability defenses. This article will discuss why your car accident is taking so long to settle and several other associated factors.

What are the Steps To Follow For An Accident Settlement?

Step 1- Seeking Medical Treatment

Although you might find that seeking the right medical attention for your injuries might be time-consuming and frustrating, it is indispensable. Failure to do so can not only delay the time you take to recover but also affect your final settlement amount. Unless you recover entirely or reach your maximum medical improvement level, you should continue to follow the guidance of your physicians. Depending on the severity of the injuries that you have suffered, it might take several weeks or even months.

Step 2- Hire a Lawyer to Evaluate Your Case

Your car accident attorney will begin collecting evidence to support your accident settlement claim in Chico, California when you either recover from the injuries or have reached maximum medical improvement. Your lawyer will thoroughly evaluate all the documents that are somehow related to your accident. 

This will include every medical bill and record, estimates of property damages, verifications for wage losses (if any), and any other expenses you have had to bear due to the accident. Since the evidence collection is detailed and depends largely on your treatment, the time required for the same varies anywhere between 2 and 6 months. So, the faster you provide the evidence when your attorney asks for it, the better will they assess your case.

Step 3- Sending a Demand Letter

This is the next step after your attorney has assessed all your damages, and you have reached maximum medical improvement. For this, your lawyer in Yuba City, California, will try to negotiate your claim for you before filing a lawsuit against your insurance company. This includes sending a demand letter containing a demand for an amount covering your damages. A response to this from your insurance company might take anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

Step 4- Filing for an Insurance Claim

If your insurance company does not concede to the demand letter, and you cannot solve your case before filing a court case, your lawyer will initiate a lawsuit. After preparing a complaint that you will have to review, your attorney will file it and serve on every Defendant involved with the case. From the day the lawsuit is served, the Defendants will have to file a response within 20 days.

However, it is important to note that it does not mean that your case will go to trial simply because you have filed a lawsuit. Only a tiny percentage of all the claims filed go to trial. In most cases, they are settled before or even during a trial. The entire procedure might take anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks.

Step 5- Moving Your Settlement Case to Discovery

Discovery in legal terms is a method where both parties exchange information, assess the damages and build defenses. The pace at which your lawsuit is moving depends on the total number of Defendants involved, which jurisdiction you are in, and how complex your legal issues are. 

Your lawyer in Yuba City, California, will walk you through this process. They will ensure that all the information available regarding your case is complete and represents it as accurately as possible. Depending on the severity of your case, this procedure can take 6 to 12 months to be completed.

Step 6- Mediation and Negotiation

Discovery is the step where the parties involved have laid all their cards on the table. Once it is complete, your lawyer might advise you to adopt an alternative mechanism for dispute resolution, including mediation or arbitration. This procedure is the perfect chance for both parties to clearly listen to and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case and negotiate with each other more fairly. Mediation and negotiation might take anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks.

Step 7- Going to Trial

However, despite all these procedures, if the parties involved cannot come to a settlement, there is no choice other than going to trial. This procedure only takes between one and three days. 

Step 8- Settlement

Settling is only one of the ways for your case to b resolved. If you choose to settle, you will have to sign and return the release agreement. After completing this procedure, the settlement check will be sent to you within 30 days of returning it. 

steps to follow after a car accident

Why Does a Typical Car Accident Settlement Take So Long?

Only a very small percentage of all car accidents go to trial. Instead, they mostly settle through the process of an auto accident settlement. The time your case takes to settle depends on the following factors:

If You Hire an Attorney

It is in the best interest of auto insurance companies if the accident victims handle the settlement case themselves. When they receive a claim, they always tend to offer a low-ball settlement. This is because they want to settle immediately and for a minimum amount of money to maximize the profits from selling that insurance. However, hiring a lawyer immediately after the accident will ensure that negotiations go on for a longer time, so the settlement you finally get is significantly more money. 

Verifying the Facts

The driver’s insurance company will try to settle the case as soon as possible if the fault for the accident is clear. If there is any dispute regarding the fault, official negotiations will take much longer than usual. 

However, the situation will vastly differ if you are in a no-fault state. A thorough examination of the car crash will be carried out where the insurance companies will consider every minor detail involved. Because of its thoroughness, this procedure could take numerous months to complete.

Severity of your Injuries

The severity of your injuries also greatly determines the time that insurance companies might take to offer you a settlement. First, they conduct a detailed examination of all the documentation related to the treatment of your injuries. It is only after this that they will offer you a settlement. In addition, if your recovery time is greater, the time in which they finally settle might be even longer.

Court’s Schedule and Timings

If your settlement finally goes for trial, the itinerary of the court regarding already scheduled trial dates can significantly affect your hearing. Based on this, your settlement case can get pushed back by months together. Such delays can affect the victims and their families, and most of them are pushed towards taking an early settlement for their car accidents. 

Three Reasons Why My Car Accident Settlement Is Taking So Long

From our above discussion, you must have realized why your car accident settlement is taking so long. However, we have pinpointed three reasons for the same-

  1. Legal or factual problems have slowed your case down
  2. It involves a significant amount in damages and compensation
  3. You have still not reached your maximum medical improvement for your case to take shape.

In most cases, unless you are willing to settle for a lesser sum, your settlement will take months or even years to be resolved. 

Legal or Factual Problems

Disputes regarding determining liability and other issues over the total monetary and property damages incurred are among the most significant factors that can slow down your case. If liability is complicated to prove in your case, it is possible that the insurance companies will not offer reasonable compensation. However, they might come around if your legal team has employed liability experts and filed a lawsuit to prove that the company was at fault. 

Sometimes, these insurance companies do not offer a reasonable settlement amount because they believe you do not have the right to sue them. In such cases, a judge has to rule that you can sue the company, only after which they will be forced to offer a good sum. In other cases, physicians who have treated you might not be sure that your injuries have been caused due to the negligence of your insurance company. This will also significantly delay the procedure.

Significant Amount in Damages and Compensation

If your case involves a lot of money, then it might be delayed. The insurance company will take a lot of time to make the settlement until they are sure about all the aspects involved. Then, they will investigate your case thoroughly, including all damages and liability. In such cases, your insurance company needs to be convinced that:

  • The damages you have incurred are not exaggerated. 
  • You are a credible and respectable person with no criminal records. This way, they will not be able to question your credibility.
  • The defense that they have against your case is not strong enough.

In settlement cases involving large amounts of money, the insurance company’s business tactic is to test the plaintiff’s patience. They are fully aware that those involved in car accidents need money to pay their medical bills and other expenses. So they try their best to tire them out and make them settle for a significantly lesser sum than they actually deserve. 

You Have Not Reached Your Maximum Medical Improvement

MMI or Maximum Medical Improvement means the maximum amount of improvement you can reach for your injuries from the accident. It does not mean that you have entirely recovered but have reached a stable point in your treatment. Maximum Medical Improvement means that after this point, your treatment will be continued consistently after you have stabilized. 

Only after you have reached your Maximum Medical Improvement will you understand the real value of your medical bills and expenditures. The long-term implications of your accident and the total damages you have incurred will also become clear. 

However, if your treatment is still ongoing, you will not be able to correctly assess whether you will entirely recover from your injuries. If you recover, you will realize that your medical expenses will be far more than what you have received from your settlement. So, it is best not to hurry and settle for an amount immediately. 

How Delays can Affect You

Delays regarding car accident settlements have a significant negative impact on victims. Going for an immediate settlement might seem like a good idea if you have to pay for your medical and emergency bills and have lost wages due to the accident. However, in such cases, at-fault insurance companies have been known to make meager offers only in a few days or weeks. 

Unless you have emergency bills to be paid, you should be cautious regarding taking such offers, especially if your injuries are more severe. In the latter case, you will need a lot more money to cover your medical bills when you have injuries that last for months or years. 

So, for this, it is best if you contact a personal injury lawyer. They will know if you should accept a low settlement or wait for the at-fault insurance company to offer you more money for the damages you have incurred.

Right after the car accident, you might think that settling early with a “short settle” might be the best idea, especially when you need ready cash for immediately paying off your medical bills. But, unfortunately, it is very difficult how much you should actually settle for in a short settlement because there are no hard and fast rules to determine the same. Since there is no rule, insurance companies can offer anywhere from 35% to as low as 5% of what they would offer in a trial.

Looking For A Car Accident Lawyer in Yuba City, California?

If you are looking for personal injury lawyers in Yuba City, California, the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin is Northern California’s best injury law team. We have been successful in recovering millions of dollars in settlements. Our initial free consultations are always free, and we offer a no win, no fee guarantee. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for a personal injury attorney in California.

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