The answer is, “it depends.” Typically, the amount of time it takes to obtain a settlement from a car accident depends on the facts of your case. This is because the facts of your claim determine the legal strength of your case, which can affect the other driver’s insurance company’s willingness to settle.
This article by the Carter Mario Law Firm outlines factors which affect how long a car accident settlement takes.
Typical Length of Time to Obtain a Car Accident Settlement
The facts of your case affect the time it takes to obtain a settlement. Stated simply, there is no way to determine the precise amount of time it will take to settle your claim. However, a skilled car accident lawyer may be able to better build and prepare your case, which can reduce the amount of time it takes to obtain a favorable settlement offer.
Breakdown of the Car Accident Settlement Timeline
People make the mistake of thinking insurance carriers tender immediate settlement offers following a car accident. This type of practice is the exception as opposed to the rule. Instead, several steps must be completed to increase the chances of obtaining a favorable settlement.
Asserting a successful personal injury claim requires proving you were injured due to the car accident. In practice, this means you should obtain medical treatment to prove you suffered injuries due to the collision. The length of your medical treatment depends on the severity of your injuries and can last from a few weeks to several months.
A personal injury lawyer needs time to evaluate a potential case. Specifically, the car accident attorneys at the Carter Mario Law Firm need to investigate the facts of your claim, which usually involves obtaining a copy of the police report, which can offer an objective narrative of the collision. Police reports can be obtained within a few weeks following a collision.
A demand letter is a written document outlining the facts of your case, along with your injuries, medical treatment, and economic losses, i.e., your medical bills. Depending on the facts of your case and the severity of your injuries, it may take several days to a few weeks to prepare a demand letter. A well-prepared demand letter may convince an insurance carrier to settle early as it can offer an accurate yet intimidating summary of the strength and value of your case.
Making a claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier is one of the first steps in the personal injury process. A claim essentially places the insurance company on notice of the incident and alerts them regarding their potential legal exposure. This relatively simple step usually takes a day or so to complete.
The next two steps only come into play if a settlement can not be negotiated; Discovery and the actual Trial. Most cases don’t reach these stages, but it’s important to understand they may mean it takes longer to reach a settlement for a car accident.
Discovery is arguably the most important and longest phase of the litigation process. Discovery often takes several months as it involves exchanging records and conducting depositions of the parties and potential witnesses. In short, discovery involves each side exchanging evidence and information regarding their cases.
A trial is the final step of a personal injury case and only occurs if your case cannot be resolved via a negotiated settlement. The length of a trial depends largely on the facts of the collision, the extent of your injuries, and the number of witnesses who must testify. A trial may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
Assuming your attorney can negotiate a settlement you approve, the insurance carrier will send a release. A release is a document you must sign and requires you to forgo any legal claims against the other driver in exchange for financial compensation. Typically, it takes a few weeks for the insurance company to process a signed release and mail a settlement check.
Factors Affecting How Long an Auto Accident Settlement Takes
Car accident cases often feature two drivers providing conflicting versions of the collision. Attorneys and insurance companies thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding crashes and the injuries victims suffer. Naturally, this review process can affect how long it takes to resolve your claim.
To win a car accident case, you must prove the other driver caused the collision by a preponderance of the evidence, i.e., 51%. The other driver’s insurance company will speak with their driver and review additional evidence, such as property damage photos, to determine if their driver is liable. Additionally, the insurance company will attempt to contact and interview independent witnesses.
Gathering Eyewitness Accounts
Independent witnesses can often make or break a car accident case. However, sometimes witnesses are uncooperative, which can prolong an investigation and stall the settlement process. In short, independent witnesses can provide an unbiased version of how a collision occurred.
Injury Recovery Time
While some aspects of the personal injury case process can be expedited, your recovery time is not one of them, especially if you suffered serious injuries. Stated simply, your body will recover at its own pace, which is why you should follow the medical advice of your treating physician and focus on reaching maximum medical improvement. Additionally, insurance companies will not consider settlement until all relevant medical documentation has been submitted.
Insurance Company Hold-Ups
Insurance companies assign adjusters to evaluate and manage insurance claims. Adjusters can stall or slow a claim as they may work slowly or are overwhelmed. Additionally, the facts of your case and the extent of your injuries may require a review by the adjuster’s supervisor, which can further prolong the process.
Negotiations Over Amount
Assuming the other driver’s insurance company accepts liability and is willing to negotiate, it is not unusual for the insurance company to minimize your injuries to justify a lower settlement offer. This is a commonly used tactic by insurance companies. This tactic can prolong the settlement process as it requires your attorney to engage in intense negotiations to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement offer.
If the other driver’s insurance carrier is unreasonable, your attorney must develop a more intense negotiating strategy. This can be beneficial as your car accident attorney can clearly articulate a strong legal theory regarding the other driver’s liability. Additionally, your attorney can communicate how you will present in court about being a sympathetic and credible witness.
Settlement Deadlines in the State of Connecticut
There are no settlement deadlines in Connecticut. Instead, Connecticut State law requires insurance carriers to respond to claims with “reasonable promptness.” Stated more clearly, an insurance carrier is not allowed to ignore your claim and must respond promptly. Your attorney can help ensure you receive a prompt response by maintaining contact with insurance carriers.
Settling vs Filing a Lawsuit
Sometimes, it is preferable to settle your car accident claim as opposed to filing a lawsuit. Stated simply, the amount of money an insurance carrier offers may reflect the amount of money you could obtain at trial. However, if the other driver’s insurance carrier refuses to negotiate or refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, it is best to file a lawsuit.
Talk with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
The personal injury process is complex and often confusing, but the lawyers at the Carter Mario Law Firm have successfully guided injured victims through this process for over 30 years.
Contact us today for a free consultation to learn about the representation we can provide.