How Long Does A Car Accident Claim Take?
Caleb, who’d gotten behind because of weeks of missed work due to his car accident, stared at the stack of unpaid bills on the kitchen counter. If he didn’t settle his case soon, he and his wife were staring at bankruptcy. He dialed his lawyer’s office.
“We really need the money,” he told his lawyer. “My accident was over a year ago!”
“Try to hold out a little longer,” said his lawyer. “This is actually normal.”
Caleb gritted his teeth, frustrated. Although he trusted his lawyer, he didn’t know how much longer he could wait.
How long is it going to take?
Like many people in an accident, Caleb was under a lot of pressure to get his settlement fast. He and his lawyer worked together to create a strategy that would get him the most money.
Every case is different. Some can settle quickly, others will take longer.
As a general rule, if your case settles, it will settle approximately 3 months after you've been released from medical treatment.
Because of the injuries Caleb suffered, he had to have surgery and then go to physical therapy for eight months after the accident. Only once he was finished with his medical treatment could settlement negotiations take place.
The next step towards settlement.
Once Caleb was finished with physical therapy, his lawyer gathered all his medical records from the hospital, doctor, and PT provider. This included his visit to the emergency room and the bill from the ambulance. The lawyer then requested information from Caleb’s company to find out how much wages he lost because of being out of work. He put this together into a settlement package and sent it to the insurance company.
At this point, the ball was in the insurance company's hands. They carefully looked over the records and used the information to make a settlement offer. This amount, if Caleb accepted it, would complete his case.
The insurance companies usually takes between one to three months to evaluate a personal injury claim and make a settlement offer. Often, they will drag their feet. Understand they are in no hurry to give you your money. In fact, the longer they take to pay, and the less they pay, the better for their bottom line. It’s the lawyer’s job to stay on top of the insurance company and get them to make a settlement in a timely manner.
Caleb had been getting medical treatment for eight months. Then his lawyer sent in the settlement package to the insurance company and then they had to wait another month for the insurance company to make a settlement offer. All this time without any money.
A slow-moving case can delay your personal injury settlement.
There are several reasons why a personal injury settlement can take longer than usual:
1) If there is problem with the evidence, or the lawyers disagree about the law.
For example, the driver of the other car may say that he didn’t cause the accident. If this happens, then your lawyer may need to hire experts and prove who caused the accident. In Caleb’s case, the other driver got the ticket and admitted it was his fault.
2) If there is a problem relating your medical treatment to the accident.
Often the insurance company will try to wriggle out of paying by claiming that some of your injuries weren’t caused by the accident at all! In Caleb’s case, he went to the Emergency Room right away, and the MRI clearly showed a shoulder rotator cuff tear which needed surgery. Caleb's injuries were clearly caused by the accident.
3) If you are still getting medical treatment and your body is still healing.
If you have not fully recovered from your injuries, your lawsuit can’t go forward. You must wait, otherwise you won’t get as much money as you deserve.
A big money case can delay your personal injury settlement.
1) Delay instead of pay.
If your case is worth a lot of money, the insurance companies may use every trick in the book to drag out the case. They will go over every bit of evidence with a fine-toothed comb, hoping to find any excuse not to offer compensation. They’ll hire their own experts who generally come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t get as much money as you deserve. Insurance companies also know that damaging accidents throw people’s lives into chaos, take them away from work, and usually give them financial problems.
2) The insurance company wants to make you wait to see if you’ll crack.
In Caleb’s case, the insurance company was playing this game. He’d already been waiting well over a year. His medical bills were very high and he’d missed a lot of work. The insurance company dragged their feet in the hopes that he’d get impatient and settle for less money.
You can settle whenever, if you’ll accept less money.
If you’re willing to accept pennies on the dollar, you can settle early. But if you won’t get good value for the case. The insurance company would love for you to do this.
A good lawyer will encourage you to hold out as long as you can, because he wants you to get the maximum compensation. Some lawyers would be just as happy to get a small settlement and get you out the door so they can get a new client. But once you’ve settled, the case is over and you’re on your own. You deserve and need to get as much money as possible so that you can get your life back in order.
No easy answer.
Simple injury cases take a few months, but complicated, big cases can take years. The important thing is to hire a trusted lawyer who will move your case along, but still get you the compensation you deserve.
In the end, Caleb and his family were able to hold out. A few months after this phone call, he came into his lawyer’s office to pick up a big settlement check, and he was ready to put his accident behind him.
The attorneys at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, & Walsh are dedicated to helping injured victims in Southwest Florida receive the justice they deserve. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we will push forward your case to get you the best possible settlement as quickly as possible. Receive your FREE Consultation with NO Obligation today, by visiting our Website or calling us at (800) 954-4014.