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How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

A car accident is not only injurious to your health, but it can also result in a big financial burden on you. One of the primary concerns of any plaintiff in a car accident is getting full, fair, and timely compensation for their suffering. Settling a case is typically a faster resolution to the issue compared to taking the case to trial, but there are many reasons why a car accident settlement gets delayed. 

Basics of a Car Accident Settlement 

A car accident settlement, in legal terms, is the agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant that the liable party will pay for damages that occurred in the road accident. This, in effect, means that the case does not need to be taken to court. Most car accident settlements are handled outside the courtroom, but if the parties don’t reach an agreement, taking the case to a judge or jury could be the only legal option. 

Every state has different legal procedures regarding car accident settlements. For instance, Florida courts use a comparative fault method to determine how much settlement is received by the victim. If you get in a car accident in Florida and your damage is $10,000, with 30 percent of the accident being your fault, you only acquire 70 percent payment ($7,000) for the damages to your vehicle. 

The first thing you should do after a car accident is hire an attorney. If you contact an insurance company before hiring an attorney, they may try to find a way out of paying a fair settlement. When you hire an attorney beforehand, your attorney takes care of the legal processes and insurance matters while you focus on your recovery. 

How long does a typical car accident settlement case take? 

A car accident settlement can be resolved in a few weeks; however, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), car accident settlements can take as long as 14 months. Car accident settlements are commonly paid in installments, so don’t expect the full settlement amount in the first payment. 

Your attorney can contact the insurance company and negotiate with them until both parties reach a settlement. Typically, the insurance company will send a document known as a release form before payments are made. The form indicates that both parties are satisfied with how the claim is being settled and agree not to file any lawsuits against the other party involved in the accident. 

After you sign the document, your attorney will get the first settlement from the insurance company in a few weeks. It is common for the attorney to pay off any remaining bills and deduct their contingency fee before giving you the settlement.

Factors That Can Influence the Settlement Timeline

1. Treatment is finished or at Maximum Medical Improvement

Your case may take time to reach a settlement because of the time it takes you to recover from the accident. Most attorneys suggest that you do not file a lawsuit before the medical treatment is completed because you can get maximum compensation. Many car accident injury cases are often delayed until the doctor handling your case can confirm that you have recovered or reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI). 

2. Delay in collecting evidence

The court can give the insurance company an extension to request additional evidence related to the car accident. Most car accident claims do not reach a settlement quickly because there is a lack of evidence or a request for additional evidence collection by the liable party, or the insurance company.

 The process of collecting additional evidence, such as witness testimony and medical records, can take several months, especially if there is a lack of eyewitnesses to the scene of the car accident. Having an experienced attorney by your side could help shorten your time to attain a settlement. Lack of evidence in a car accident injury case can make it difficult to impose liability on the defendant. This can lead to a comparative fault situation or a prolonged investigation to find liability in the dispute. 

3. The demand package: waiting for a response

After you file a lawsuit, your lawyer will submit a demand to the insurance company. The insurance company can take its time to review the claim and then deliver a counteroffer to agree to the claim. If the settlement is not fair, you can make a counteroffer or reject the settlement. 

How can a car accident attorney help? 

Hiring an attorney in a car accident case can increase your chances of attaining a fair settlement. Attorneys experienced in the field can inform you regarding legal matters and how much time it can take you to get a settlement. In addition, an attorney can help you attain additional compensation by handling the negotiation with the insurance company.