If you’re wondering how long it will take for you to receive compensation for a car accident injury claim, the short answer is that it depends.
An attorney can certainly speed up the process. Still, several factors influence the amount of time it takes to settle. After that, multiple steps need to occur before you have a check in your hands.
What Has to Happen Before Reaching a Settlement
In an ideal world, the driver who’s at fault will have a friendly and generous insurance company that strives to make your life easy and is eager to return your life to normal by compensating you fairly for your injuries. Rarely, however, is this the case.
The following four circumstances can speed up or delay the car accident settlement timeframe:
Determine the Extent of the Damages
The other insurance company and your attorney will objectively evaluate all damages, including property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium (spousal companionship), and loss of enjoyment.
Conclude Who is at Fault
Suppose it’s not immediately clear who is at fault. In that case, the other party’s insurance company could delay the process by trying to prove that their client was only partially at fault or potentially has no liability whatsoever.
Cooperate with the Other Party
Even if the fault scenario is black and white and the extent of the damages is clear, the insurance company might try to delay, especially if they’re facing the possibility of writing a six or seven-figure check.
Perform Legal Proceedings (Sometimes)
If the other party disagrees over the claim or debates fault, there’s a chance that legal proceedings may be in order. As you can imagine, this can drag out the settlement process.
Reaching a Settlement
Once the bulk of the information is gathered and the fault is evident, the next phase is to get a clear picture of the amount of compensation you’re owed, and then collect payment.
This phase happens in four steps:
1. Your Treatment is Finished or Deemed Complete
“Complete” can mean one of two things:
1. You’re fully recovered.
2. Or, you’re not fully recovered, but further treatment will not lead to any improvements.
It can be frustrating to wait for a settlement, especially if a surgery or procedure is scheduled far in advance. In this case, your attorney can consult with medical professionals to determine the costs of the future procedures to accelerate the settlement process.
2. All Records Have Been Gathered
To assign a value to a settlement claim, both parties need to be aware of all of the costs. This involves obtaining detailed records, including medical bills, past and future lost wages, property appraisals, and more.
In some cases, additional information and expert opinions will be needed to come to a fair number. The other party’s insurance company and their lawyers are likely to err on the low side, whereas your attorney will fight to advocate you get maximum compensation.
3. Get a Response to the Demand Package
Once all the information about your car accident has been collected, your attorney will send a settlement demand letter indicating the amount of money that’s being requested on your behalf.
Taking into account the complexity of your case, it can take the insurance company days, weeks, or even months to review the information and respond. Your attorney will be in regular contact to ensure the other party doesn’t stall for too long and your case isn’t being neglected.
4. Collect Your Payment
After a successful settlement, the insurance company still has to go through the process of writing the check. It’s not uncommon for some procrastination here, so your personal injury attorney will have to remain vigilant during this final phase.
Though there are several considerations that can influence the time it takes for a car accident settlement, the average is just under 14 months, according to the Department of Justice. This timeframe can vary widely.
Working with a skilled personal injury attorney can help speed up the process because you’ll have an advocate on your side that knows the ins and outs of how insurance companies operate.
At the law firm of Bryan Garrett, we’ll do everything we can to help. Call us today at (405) 839-8424 for a complimentary consultation.