If you’ve been in a car accident, you might be wondering “how long does it take for a car accident settlement?” The truth is the average car accident settlement time can range from a few months to a year or longer, depending on several factors. Some of these factors include the severity of your injuries, disputed liability, the number of parties involved, and the willingness of insurance companies to work with you.At Ashcraft & Gerel, we understand that the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help you navigate the settlement process and advocate for your rights. Whether you’re dealing with a minor claim or a more complex case, our experienced attorneys can help you understand your options and work toward a fair settlement. Call us at 844-680-0339 or schedule your free consultation to get started.
What Factors Affect the Average Length of Time for Car Accident Settlements?
From the severity of your injuries to the cooperation level of other parties and their insurance companies, there are a wide variety of factors that can affect your auto accident settlement time frame. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common variables:
Injury Severity and Treatment Time
The severity of injuries sustained in a car accident can significantly influence the timeframe for receiving a settlement, because one of the main goals of seeking compensation after a car accident is to help pay for medical expenses. Stated differently, your settlement will likely proceed faster if your injuries are less severe. More severe injuries, which may require extensive surgeries and physical therapy, are likely to make the settlement process longer and more complicated.
To properly account for these expenses, you should either wait until your injuries have reached maximum medical improvement or provide documentation detailing your current medical expenses and future medical needs with estimated costs.
Initial Investigations and Evidence Collection
The average time to settle a car accident claim can be also affected by the initial investigations carried out by your personal injury attorney and the other party’s lawyers. After hiring a lawyer, they will begin by conducting a thorough examination of your case. This entails gathering information about your damages, documenting your medical expenses, interviewing eyewitnesses, and discussing your experiences. It is crucial to maintain accurate records of all expenses related to your damages during this stage.
This investigation process can take weeks to months to complete. Both parties’ investigations into liability and damages play a significant role in determining the auto accident settlement time frame.
When liability is disputed, the insurance company may argue that their insured driver is not at fault or that the victim is partially responsible, further prolonging the process. Establishing fault and proving negligence can be more challenging in some cases, especially when the victim shares responsibility for the accident. In jurisdictions that use pure contributory negligence, such as Maryland, victims who have even a slight contribution to the accident will face an uphill battle when it comes to receiving compensation.
The accident’s circumstances can also impact how long it takes to establish fault. For example, accidents caught on camera or with clear liability, such as a rear-end collision at a stoplight, can resolve the issue of fault more quickly. In contrast, collisions without cameras, witnesses, or involving multiple potentially at-fault parties may take much longer to resolve.
Cases Involving Large Amounts of Money
The amount of money involved in a car accident settlement can significantly impact the timeframe for resolution. When pursuing a settlement, your lawyer will help you determine the damages to claim, which include medical expenses, property damage, loss of income, pain and suffering, and more. Generally, cases involving higher amounts take longer to settle, as insurance companies aim to minimize payouts.
High-value claims typically arise from extensive injuries and property damage, which make negotiations more complex. Insurance companies tend to prolong these cases to avoid substantial payments. When seeking significant damages, the insurance company may thoroughly investigate your claim and even consult experts, which can lengthen the settlement process. It is crucial not to accept a lowball offer to avoid going to court, as you may be entitled to a much higher settlement for serious injuries.
Insurance companies often employ delay tactics, offering low settlements or prolonging negotiations in hopes that you will either give up due to financial pressure or run out of time to sue. Working with a qualified car accident lawyer is advisable to counteract these strategies.
A skilled car accident lawyer will be familiar with the insurance companies’ tricks and tactics, effectively handling communication to keep the case moving forward. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate, the injury claim may ultimately need to be resolved in a trial, which can further affect the settlement timeline.
Settlement Request and Rebuttal
The settlement request and rebuttal process begins when your lawyer submits a demand for settlement to the other party’s insurance company. The insurance company then decides whether to make a settlement offer, which your lawyer will review and advise you on. This process usually takes several weeks, but it can take longer if there are multiple rounds of negotiations.
If no agreement is reached, your lawyer will file a legal complaint with the court, and the other party will be served a lawsuit notice and given a chance to respond. If the parties can reach a consensus, the case settles, and attorneys draft legal documents outlining the settlement terms. Once signed and properly witnessed, the funds can be disbursed.
Negotiations and Your Patience Level
Your patience level during negotiations can play a significant role in determining the timeframe for a car accident settlement because settlement negotiations can be extensive. The length of this process can impact your chances of receiving a higher settlement, but it also extends the time it takes to pay your bills and return to normalcy.
You have some control over the duration of negotiations. For example, you can choose to accept a slightly smaller offer to expedite the process or take your case to court, though this may prolong the timeline further. Be aware that insurance companies may employ stall tactics, such as disputing the extent of your injuries or accusing you of inflating medical expenses, to delay or dispute your claim. Ultimately, reaching a settlement depends on the evidence gathered, the demand letter issued, and the ongoing negotiations between the involved parties.
The Potential Need for a Trial
If your case must go to trial, the timeline for receiving compensation will be extended. A few reasons that may lead to a trial include: a looming statute of limitations deadline (the time limit you have to take legal action), the insurer denying liability or alleging the victim’s contribution to the crash, or the insurance company refusing to agree to a fair case value. In some instances, victims may sue and subsequently have their attorney negotiate a better settlement with the insurer before the case advances in court, which is a common outcome.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the court will set a date for both parties to appear before a judge. Attorneys from both sides will present their legal arguments, and the judge will deliver a verdict. If the judge rules in your favor, the other party will be required to pay you. Generally, trials last only a day or two, but the overall process leading up to and including the trial can significantly extend the settlement timeline.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Settlement Check After a Car Accident?
As discussed above, there are many factors that can affect the timeframe for reaching a settlement after a car accident, such as the injuries you suffered and the complexity of your overall claim. However, once an agreement is reached and a release is signed, you will typically receive a check within 30 days. If you don’t hear from the insurance company within this timeframe, you should ask your lawyers to seek an update.
See How We Can Help You Get the Settlement You Deserve
While it is tough to answer the question “how long do car accident settlements take?” without understanding the specific details and circumstances of your car accident, we certainly know how important it is for our clients to receive justice as quickly as possible.
Without legal representation, the average car accident settlement time is typically longer. A qualified car accident attorney can stop delaying tactics, effectively argue your case, and help maximize your settlement. Since 1953, the diligent attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel have been helping victims settle their car accident claims with compassion and attention to detail. If you’re wondering what your estimated auto accident settlement time frame might be, call us at 844-680-0339 or schedule your free consultation to get started.