02 Jul How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?
If you or your loved ones have been in a car accident, you may be wondering ‘how long does a car accident settlement take’? You may also be wondering about that if you just want to be prepared in case you get into an accident in the future.
Every day, car accidents occur all over California, sometimes leaving the people involved with catastrophic injuries and significant financial losses. It’s normal to experience doubt and frustration following an accident, particularly one that another individual caused. Depending on the specifics of the case, obtaining compensation for your damages may be a difficult and drawn-out process.
Let’s understand all the factors involved in a car accident settlement and look at how long does a car accident settlement take depending on those factors.
What is the process of settlement after a car accident?
The insurance adjuster from the party that was at fault will approach the victim in the weeks following a car accident and present a preliminary settlement offer. This offer typically only pays for the victim’s out-of-pocket expenses for the medical care they have already received for their accident-related injuries. However, victims that are already worried about their ability to pay for such medical bills may find the offer alluring.
Since the victim must sign a release form in order to receive the payment stipulated in the proposed settlement, accepting the preliminary settlement offer will put an end to the case.
More often than not, these settlement offers are very low and do not cover anything other than the medical expenses that the victim has already incurred. However, in cases of serious accidents, some injuries may present much later and the expenses incurred for them will not be covered in the settlement. This type of settlement is called a “low-ball” offer.
If you have a trustworthy car accident attorney on your side, they can help you steer clear of such offers and push for higher settlement amounts.
If the victim declines the initial settlement offer, they must then write a demand letter to the responsible party and his or her insurance provider. The victim’s intention to file a lawsuit for personal injury if compensation is not given before a deadline is stated in the letter. It also states the details of what occurred and the severity of their injuries.
This may result in a reasonable settlement offer in some circumstances. The deadline will be missed in some cases. The complaint will then be submitted by the victim’s car accident attorney. This starts the lawsuit related to the auto accident. The defendant is served after it is filed with the court.
The studies indicate that it takes approximately 2 years from this point for the lawsuit to go to court or be resolved.
After that, the defendant will submit a response to the complaint. The defendant either admits or disputes the allegations in the complaint in the answer.
The case then enters the discovery phase, which aims to obtain evidence supporting the final allegations under consideration. In a claim involving a car accident, typical sources of such evidence include medical reports, the police report, witness statements, and the drivers’ depositions. The information provided in the report of the incident or insurance claim to the driver’s insurance company and specifics about any property damage suffered in the accident are also considered.
How much money the victim deserves in compensation will become clear as more evidence is found. This will encourage settlement talks.
Several factors come into play in this situation. Let’s look at some of the most important factors that influence the amount and timeline of a car accident settlement below.
What factors affect the settlement?
Each and every car accident claim is unique, particularly if the victim sustained serious injuries.
Insurance providers try to fight with everything they have when the amounts involved are higher. This may affect how long it takes to resolve your case.
The insurance company may still be able to affect your timeline due to the following major factors, even if they negotiate in good faith.
Determining the cause of the car accident
First and foremost, figuring out what caused your car accident is essential to getting an insurance settlement. A car accident can have several contributing factors on occasion. Several parties might be responsible for damages in those situations.
Your car accident attorney can help you determine the exact cause of the accident. Some of the most common causes include:
- Drive while distracted
- Not giving the right-of-way
- Tailgating (following someone too closely)
- Erratic driving
- Dangerous passing
- Unauthorized lane changes
- Unsafe or illegal U-turns
- Ignoring a stop sign or red light
- Drunken driving
- Faulty roads
Some investigations have clear-cut outcomes. In other situations, it may be challenging to pinpoint the precise cause of the mishap.
Determining who was at fault for the accident is the first step in settling a car accident claim. If a recent accident was caused by another driver, you must gather proof and witness accounts to prove their responsibility for your losses. The police statement from the accident, which contains the responding officers’ initial observations from the accident scene, will be essential in determining liability.
You can make a claim on their vehicle insurance to recover your losses if another driver was at fault for your accident. California uses a fault-based system to determine who is legally responsible for accidents, and all drivers are required to have vehicle insurance that fulfills the state’s minimum coverage requirements.
Having an experienced car accident attorney by your side will help you as they will collect all the necessary evidence to prove the other party’s fault. They can also help you get compensation for your damages if the other party does not have auto insurance.
Once they have all the data, they will file the insurance claim on your behalf and push the insurance company to offer you the maximum settlement possible.
Your auto accident claim will depend on how accurately you estimate the damages you have sustained as a result of the accident. This value essentially represents the compensation you are demanding from the party or parties who injured you. It can be very challenging to determine this value.
Remember that you must maintain all bills and receipts for your medical care, no matter how small or large the amount. The bills will make it easy to determine the amount of medical expenses. If you lose them, reaching a fair calculation of your damages becomes extremely difficult.
While some figures, like medical expenses and lost wages while recovering, may be fairly simple to determine, other losses will be more complicated.
What are your suffering and pain worth? How should your lowered earning potential be determined if your ability to work is affected? These decisions will necessitate extensive study and professional advice.
Handling insurance-related matters
Getting a settlement payout from the automobile insurance company of the at-fault driver may take a few weeks to several months. Drivers must typically report accidents to their insurance providers as promptly as possible, usually in a few days.
Therefore, in addition to telling your insurance provider about your most recent accident, you should also get in touch with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. You must let them know that you’ll be filing a claim soon. Before you do that, it is a good idea to speak with a skilled car accident attorney who can assist you in maximizing your insurance settlement.
The minimum personal accident liability coverage amounts for a single individual and an entire accident in California are $15,000 and $30,000, respectively. The insurance policy must also include liability coverage for property damage of at least $5,000.
When the policyholder causes an accident and the other driver seeks compensation to recover their damages, these insurance limits come into play. If the at-fault driver’s insurance is unable to pay for all of the victim’s damages, a civil lawsuit is likely to follow.
It can be very beneficial to have legal counsel help you write your demand letter to the other party’s insurance company. When an insurer notices that a claimant has access to a lawyer, they are less inclined to use dishonest strategies to reduce the settlement amount. When you have a lawyer assist you with your demand letter, you are also more likely to receive your settlement payout much sooner.
Your recovery from the injuries
The time it takes to receive compensation will also be influenced by how quickly you recover physically. Determining the severity of your injuries and if they will put limits on your life may take some time.
The true scope of your damages might not become apparent until after you have recovered to the fullest extent possible medically.
Next, let’s look at other details such as how soon do you need to file a car accident claim and your options if the insurance company doesn’t offer you a fair settlement.
How soon do you need to file a claim?
In personal injury cases, California practices a two-year statute of limitations. This deadline affects how quickly you can reach a settlement because insurance providers are unlikely to settle if you can’t pursue legal action.
Frequently, this entails a strict two-year time limit on settlement talks before a personal injury lawsuit is filed.
What are your options?
You have two options in case of a car accident. You can either negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit. Let’s understand what both options entail.
Filing a claim with the insurance company
You have the right to initiate a claim for damages if you are injured in a car accident and determine you’d like to pursue compensation. In contrast to a lawsuit, this claim is delivered directly to the insurance provider of the at-fault party.
This request will be examined by the insurance company, which has the option to pay, ignore it, or offer different conditions. Insurance companies typically refuse to pay the entire amount you have requested and either ignore your claim or make you a low-ball offer.
These businesses only care about protecting their financial position and keeping your compensation to a minimum.
You will only be able to accept the compensation provided during this external negotiation if you decide not to pursue a lawsuit for personal injury with the assistance of an attorney. You might (or might not) obtain a payout quickly, but you’re not going to get the full amount you’re probably due.
Even worse, you might discover that insurance providers are eager to make you a settlement. Be extremely cautious of these initial lowball offers because they won’t be sufficient to compensate you for your losses fully. If you agree, you will receive money, but it won’t be sufficient to significantly alter the situation.
Filing a lawsuit
Although it will take more time to file a lawsuit, you have a better chance of receiving a just settlement or award. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into your accident, present the defendant with a formal complaint in court, and begin the civil litigation procedure.
Upwards of 95% of personal injury cases are settled privately and outside of court. At any stage of the litigation process, you have the option to settle your case. You decide if and when you would like to settle for any given amount the insurance provider offers.
You will need to assess the offers you get and weigh them against the prospect of winning more if you file a lawsuit. Personal injury cases can be very drawn-out affairs that can take months or years to resolve.
Why you should hire a car accident attorney
Steve Gimblin has years of experience handling car accident cases from beginning to end. His past success is self-evident. Due to his professionalism, expertise, and in-depth legal knowledge, Steve has an edge over his rivals. Here’s what some of his previous clients have to say about Steve.
Steve is committed to making sure that everyone has access to legal representation. What’s better, you only have to pay if you win the case because he accepts cases on a contingency basis.
Get in touch with us now for a free consultation!