How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

July 10, 2023 | David Abels
How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

When negligent drivers cause serious car accidents, other drivers and passengers may suffer debilitating injuries that require ongoing medical treatment. In addition to the treatment an injured accident victim must endure, accident victims may experience intense suffering, inconvenience, and pain – sometimes permanently.

In these circumstances, an injured car accident victim may be eligible to recover various types of settlement compensation, including monetary damages for their related medical expenses and lost earnings. This helps injury victims with mounting medical bills and lost income from missing work, among other losses.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes take a quite a while to resolve a car accident claim for a fair amount of money. Initially, car insurance companies typically offer inadequate monetary compensation to resolve a claim. You should never accept initial settlement offers from insurance companies, as you likely deserve much more compensation.

Instead, immediately consult with a car accident lawyer who can advise you what a fair offer might be. They can present evidence of your losses and negotiate aggressively with the adjuster to get them to increase their offer sufficiently.

At other times, the accident victim's lawyer may need to threaten the adjuster with litigation or even file a lawsuit in the court system that seeks monetary recovery.

Retaining experienced legal counsel to represent you is one of the most important steps you can take following a recent car crash. Your lawyer can undertake all of the necessary steps on your behalf and work to maximize your total monetary recovery, either through a favorable settlement offer or litigation result.

Proving a Car Accident Case

To recover monetary compensation for your accident-related injuries, you must satisfy your legal burden of proof in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Upon meeting this legal burden, the law may entitle you to a monetary recovery.

How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

To help you satisfy your legal burden in a car accident claim, your attorney can retain one or more experts who can testify at a discovery deposition or jury trial on your behalf.

For example, one of your treating medical providers, including a medical specialist, can establish that you incurred permanent injuries that will not improve with time.

Common permanent injuries following a car crash include traumatic head injuries, spinal cord damage, and paralysis. A medical expert can also establish the causal relationship between the accident and the injuries you ultimately suffered.

Your attorney can also retain an expert accident reconstructionist, especially if the insurance company is disputing fault – or liability – for your accident. Accident reconstructionists can demonstrate who caused an accident or how an accident likely occurred.

Accident reconstructionists can also speak with the accident victims and eyewitnesses who observed the accident firsthand. They can also visit the accident scene, review police reports and diagrams, and piece together the likely cause of the accident. Finally, an expert accident reconstructionist can testify in court on your behalf to prove the liability element of your claim.

Regarding the legal elements of a car accident claim, an accident victim must establish that the other driver owed them a legal duty of care. This legal element is the most obvious because all drivers have a duty to drive responsibly and carefully – and to obey all traffic laws and regulations.

Furthermore, the accident victim must demonstrate that the other driver somehow breached (or violated) their legal duty. For example, the other driver might have driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol or committed one or more traffic law violations.

Third, the accident victim must demonstrate that the accident would not have occurred if it had not been for the other driver's negligence. Finally, the accident victim must establish that they suffered physical injuries and damages as a direct result of the other driver's negligence.

A skilled car accident attorney in your area can help you satisfy these legal elements so that you are eligible to recover monetary compensation for all of your injuries.

Types of Car Accidents

When drivers act negligently, they may cause several different types of car crashes that can lead to injuries for drivers and passengers.

First, a driver who fails to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle at a four-way traffic intersection may cause a T-bone accident or broadside collision. These accidents happen when the front of a car hits the side of another vehicle, usually because the first vehicle runs a stop sign, yield sign, or red traffic light at an intersection. The at-fault driver might not watch the road or may try to get through the intersection in a hurry.

Other car crashes involve rear-end collisions, where a driver fails to slow down and negligently causes their vehicle to hit the back of another car. These accidents can also happen when people drive too fast for the prevailing weather or traffic conditions.

Next, a sideswipe accident may happen when the sides of two vehicles traveling in neighboring lanes brush up against one another. These accidents frequently occur when drivers become distracted while behind the wheel or fail to use their mirrors when switching lanes. Moreover, the force of a sideswipe accident may cause the vehicle on the receiving end to slide into another travel lane – or off the road altogether.

Finally, some car crashes involve head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles traveling in opposing lanes strike one another. These accidents may occur when a driver fails to observe the road or drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When both cars exceed the speed limit, a head-on collision may cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries.

If you sustained injuries in one of these types of car crashes that resulted from another driver's negligence, you should speak with an attorney right away who can review your legal options with you. Your lawyer can then help you select the best choice for your case and file a claim on your behalf for monetary damages.

Negotiating a Car Crash Settlement

Once you retain an attorney to represent you in your car accident case, they can begin gathering essential documents on your behalf.

First, your attorney can obtain a copy of the police report and any witness statements. They can also recover all of your medical treatment records, medical bills, and lost income documentation if you had to miss work time following your crash. Finally, if you have photographs of your injuries or property damage, your attorney can include those photographs as part of your settlement demand package.

Once the insurance company receives the demand package, they will evaluate your claim and may make an offer to settle your claim for monetary damages. However, never accept the first offer that an insurance company representative puts on the table unless a lawyer reviews and approves it.

Most initial offers pay far less than a car accident claim's actual value. However, your attorney can negotiate with the adjuster on your behalf in pursuit of a better offer that fully and fairly compensates you for your accident-related losses.

If the insurance company does not offer you more money to settle, your attorney can litigate your case in the court system by filing a prompt lawsuit on your behalf.

Even after filing suit in your car accident case, your attorney may still secure a favorable resolution through settlement. However, litigating a case puts it on the court's calendar and establishes various dates, including a settlement conference date and a trial date.

During settlement negotiations, your attorney can help you decide whether to accept the settlement offer that an adjuster puts on the table or litigate your case in court at a jury trial or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding.

Factors that Affect How Long It Takes to Settle

Settlement negotiations between an accident victim's attorney and the insurance company can sometimes take several weeks or even months. These negotiations typically happen when the accident victim’s attorney makes an opening demand for settlement by sending the adjuster a settlement demand letter. This letter demands monetary compensation within the available limits of the at-fault driver's insurance policy.

Upon receiving the settlement demand letter and complete demand package, the insurance company adjuster will usually put an offer on the table. However, in most situations, this offer is far less than the accident victim lawyer's initial demand.

The parties will then negotiate back and forth, with the insurance company gradually increasing their offer as the accident victim's lawyer gradually decreases their demand. These negotiations will continue until the parties either settle their case or fail to reach an agreement.

Various factors may influence how long it takes to resolve a claim through settlement.

Those factors may include:

  • The insurance company and the insurance company adjuster with whom you are dealing, since some are more difficult to work with than others
  • The venue where your car accident lawsuit is pending since some are more plaintiff-friendly than others
  • The amount of time it takes to receive your medical records, medical bills, and other documentation necessary to prove your case
  • The amount of time it takes to retain an expert
  • The particular issues the insurance company is disputing in your case, such as liability or monetary damages
  • The availability of expert witnesses to testify in your case
  • Whether an investigation into the cause of the car accident is necessary or whether the insurance company accepts fault for the car crash right away

Your attorney will do everything possible to help you expedite your case and achieve an efficient and fair monetary settlement. If that is impossible, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf and pursue an efficient resolution in the court system.

Litigating a Car Accident Claim 

In cases where insurance companies will not offer an accident victim fair monetary compensation, litigation becomes a viable option.

During litigation, the parties will exchange answers to written Interrogatories and take one another's depositions. They will then typically attend one or more settlement conferences with the court. If the case does not settle during the discovery phase of litigation, the parties have several options.

Those options include:

  • Taking the case to a civil jury trial and letting the jury hear the evidence and decide the disputed issues in the case (including the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim)
  • Pursuing one or more types of ADR in the case, such as mediation or binding arbitration, with the help of a neutral case evaluator

Your car accident attorney can help you decide how best to pursue the monetary compensation you need following your accident. They can also answer all of your legal questions along the way and work to secure the best possible result on your behalf.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today

If you recently suffered injuries in a car crash, time is of the essence.

Unfortunately, accident victims do not have unlimited time to take legal action in their cases. Particularly, accident victims only have two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit in the court system.

Outside some exceptional circumstances, belatedly filing a lawsuit almost guarantees that the court will dismiss your case. If that happens, you will not be eligible to recover any monetary damages for your accident-related injuries and losses.

Gary Annes Car Accident Attorney in Chicago
Gary Annes Car Accident Lawyer in Chicago

One of the most important steps you can take is to retain skilled legal counsel to represent you early on in the process. Your lawyer can immediately begin an investigation into your accident circumstances and file a claim on your behalf.

At that point, they can start negotiating a fair settlement offer with the other driver's insurance company. If those settlement discussions fail, your lawyer can efficiently litigate your case in the court system.

By having skilled personal injury lawyer on board in your case as early as possible, you increase your chances of obtaining a favorable – and efficient – resolution to your car accident case.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

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David Abels

Partner

David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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