How Long Does A Car Accident Settlement Take?

Whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant in a car accident lawsuit, neither side is ideal and the process can be long, stressful, and complex.

For victims of personal injury claims, it can be particularly tiresome, particularly if the accident has had significant impacts on your life, or if you’ve shelled out a lot of cash to cover medical expenses.

But no car accident case is the same, and therefore, it can take anywhere between 3 months and a year for a settlement to be agreed upon.

In this article, we’re going to be looking at the factors that slow down - or speed up - your claim. 

The process of obtaining the settlement

Seeking compensation for damages inflicted by a car accident, whether physical or emotional, can be complicated, as in order to obtain a monetary claim you’ll need to provide as much evidence as possible to prove the extent of the damages caused.

This includes gathering witness statements and evidence of your medical damages such as medical bills, prescriptions, therapy, or surgery costs. 

You’ll also need to exchange insurance information with the other driver and research a reputable car accident firm to represent you and negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. 

Proving Liability 

If another driver’s negligence caused the accident and the injuries you acquired as a result, he or she is liable for the damages. You will therefore need to prove their liability, which is often difficult because parties often disagree over who actually caused the accident.

If this is the case, and you cannot adequately prove the other driver was liable, it will take a while for the claims to process and for the funds to be released by the insurance company. 

The Extent Of Your Injuries

The settlement fees will equate to the damage caused, and to any financial hardship as a result of your injuries, such as medical bills.

However, if your injuries are serious, and require an extended stay in hospital, you’ll be unable to accept a settlement until you’re aware of the full extent of your injuries. It will also take a while for doctors to determine how long your recovery will take, and the extent - and expense - of your treatment.

Your lawyer will need to be kept updated with information regarding the extent of your injuries in order to account for all the damages in your claim. So the more serious your injuries, the longer your claim is likely to take.

On the other hand, if you have less specific injuries such as generalized pain, whiplash, or soft tissue injuries, the insurance company will require more information because such injuries are frequently used in fraudulent claims, so simpler injuries can also take a long time if they are difficult to prove.

The same goes for emotional distress; while mental illness is very real for those suffering it, it’s far harder to prove than physical injuries, so you’ll need to provide detailed notes, prescriptions, medical records, or the cost of treatments, as evidence. 

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

MMI is a term used to describe the point in your treatment where your condition has improved as fully as it was expected to, even if your injury requires ongoing treatment or medication.

As we mentioned above, you are advised to wait until you have reached MMI before settling a claim, as you want to ensure that it won’t incur further medical costs or knock-on impacts on your emotional health and daily living. 

Once you know your MMI, your lawyer will then be able to reach an accurate calculation of your damages. Settling your claim too soon or before you reach MMI could result in you losing out on any additional losses you could face due to your accident in the near future.

Insurance Company Response Time

How quickly your claim is processed also relies on the speed at which the insurance companies respond, and companies are infamously slow at doing so, which is frustrating and means it could take longer to settle. 

Some insurance companies may be purposely slow in the hope that you will give up and drop the case, while more professional firms or individuals will take the time to investigate every aspect of the case and injuries to thoroughly examine the liability and damages.

Problems with Determining Damages

Certain injuries or damages can be hard to prove, for example, emotional distress which we explained above.

If your doctor has trouble determining whether your injuries were due to negligence it could complicate your claim, especially if you’re suing for emotional distress and there was evidence of this existing before the accident. 

This doesn’t mean your claim will be completely dismissed, it just means the other insurance company is likely to use this uncertainty as grounds to deny you compensation.

This is why it’s important to provide as much evidence as possible, and to find a doctor that can testify that your injuries were caused by the other driver’s negligence. 

Final Verdict 

No two car accident claims are the same, and therefore it can take anywhere between 3 months and a year for a case to be settled.

There are also many other factors that can influence how long this process takes, including the nature of your injuries and how complex they are to prove, the MMI, the time it takes for the insurance companies to respond, and how easily you can prove and determine damages. 

While it can be very frustrating to wait for your settlement and endure the constant back-and-forth between insurance companies, it’s also important you don’t settle your case too soon, as you need to wait until you’ve recovered from your injuries or reached your MMI before releasing a settlement, as otherwise, you could suffer further damages yet you’ll be unable to claim for them. 

Disclaimer

Thank you for visiting. This website is for informational purposes only. None of the information provided is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute, legal advice, and none of the information necessarily reflects the opinions of Misty Rock Capital LLC dba whocanisue.com or anyone associated, employed or affiliated with Misty Rock Capital LLC dba whocanisue.com.