The time it takes to settle an accident claim will vary depending on the circumstances. It’s also different if you have an attorney, as they can help move things along much faster than if you were handling the case on your own. If you don’t have a lawyer, then the entire process can take anywhere from several months to even years. If you have a lawyer, the whole process could take anywhere from weeks to months or even days, depending on how complex your case is and how quickly your insurance company responds to your attorney’s inquiries about your settlement details.
An experienced personal injury attorney will also know exactly what details are needed from you to best settle your accident settlement with confidence that all the bases are covered.
Why do accident settlements take so long?
The first thing to understand is that there’s no timeline for how long a settlement takes. Each case is unique, and the settlement process will be different for each person’s situation. Several factors go into how long your case will take to settle.
Your location and what happens in your area will affect things, but also the nature of your accident, the severity of your injuries, the details of your case (how many people were involved and what their situation is, how long you were out of work and how long your medical treatment is expected to last, etc.), how long it takes your doctors to give you a full prognosis and how quickly your insurance company responds to your attorney’s questions.
Negotiating the settlement with the insurance company
Your insurance company is not your friend, they are not on your side, and they are not trying to help you. They are trying to minimize their payout as much as possible. That is their job. It’s also why you should never try to work out a settlement with them directly, as you will almost certainly be settling for less than you deserve.
The first step in getting your settlement is for your attorney to negotiate with the insurance company, trying to get them to agree to a settlement that puts money in your pocket. Once the insurance company is ready to make a settlement offer, they’ll send it to your attorney.
Your attorney will relay the details of your case to you, and you’ll have a chance to review the offer and give your input. The offer will include details about how much the company is willing to pay you, along with a timeline for when they expect that payment to be made. If your attorney thinks the offer is fair, s/he’ll relay that to you and will often tell you to expect the payment to be made in a certain number of months.
Waiting for your doctor’s appointments and exams
Once the offer is on the table, your attorney will ask your doctors to give their prognosis and estimate when you’ll be fully recovered from your injuries. Your doctors will also provide more details about the specific nature of your injuries, and the type and severity of any ongoing conditions that you have as a result of your accident.
Your attorney will review that information with you and use it to inform you how long you expect your medical treatment to last and how long your expected recovery time is. This is an important part of the settlement process and process of getting your full settlement, as your attorney will use this information to try to limit the amount of time that the insurance company has to make the full settlement payment to you.
Your attorney will use the information you provide to try to make the case that you don’t need as much time to fully recover as the insurance company is giving you. Your attorney will also use this information to try to make the case that you don’t need as much money in your settlement to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
Limiting your negotiating window with a lawsuit
If the company won’t agree to a settlement, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the insurance company. Once that happens, the company will know that you’re serious about your claim and that you plan to go to court if necessary. This will change the dynamic of the situation and will make the company more motivated to settle with you, as they don’t want to go to court.
If the company is still not interested in settling with you, the lawsuit will be set for a date in front of a judge. The judge will decide how much your case is worth and will issue a verdict. Once this happens, the company will have a set amount of time to either agree to your settlement or file an appeal to try to get the amount reduced. This is your attorney’s opportunity to use the court’s verdict as leverage to get the company to agree to a settlement. The company will know that if they don’t settle with you, they’ll have to pay the amount that was awarded by the judge.
Confirming the accuracy of your injuries and damage
Even if you have an attorney, it’s important, to be honest, and upfront about the details of your accident and your injuries. Later in the settlement process, you may be given a document called a “disclosure” where you’re asked to confirm the details of your injuries so that the company and your attorney have a record of what you said happened.
If you don’t fully and accurately disclose your injuries, it could hurt your settlement. And if the company or their insurance adjuster finds out that you weren’t completely truthful, they could try to get your whole settlement thrown out. All of these details may seem tedious or like a waste of time, but they are very important. They are what will make the difference between getting a smaller settlement and getting the full amount that you deserve after being injured in an accident.
The accident settlement process can be frustrating and difficult to navigate, especially if you don’t have a lawyer. Having an attorney will help ease the stress of the situation, keep you up to date on the progress of your case, and help you get the best possible outcome.
If you’ve been in an accident and have sustained injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other associated financial burdens. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the settlement process, maximize your settlement amount, and get you the help you need as quickly as possible.