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How Long Do Car Accident Settlements Take?

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Jonathan Rosenfeld

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Your life may have been turned upside down after a car accident. From injuries that may never fully heal to the mounting pile of medical bills, life as you know it can change forever. It’s also a significant financial burden since you’ll likely need ongoing treatment, medication, physical therapy, and mental health support. 

It’s understandable that with so many expenses putting a burden on your budget, you’ll want the car accident settlement check to come sooner rather than later. 

There’s no average time limit for a car accident settlement. The process can be complex and requires adequate time to obtain fair compensation. Read on to find out how the accident settlement timeline can vary depending on the facts of the case. 

How Does the Auto Accident Settlement Process Work?

Your car accident claim will go through several stages during the process before a settlement is reached. It begins by notifying the insurance company about the accident and hiring legal representation. Investigation and evidence gathering follow before car accident settlement negotiations take place. If a suitable offer is made, it could be wrapped up within 6 to 9 months.

In the event there’s no car accident settlement, the case then proceeds to trial, where your personal injury lawyer will present the evidence and passionately argue your claim before a jury to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Trials do take time so you may have to wait for a couple of years before a jury verdict goes your way. Here’s a more detailed look at how the car accident settlement process unfolds:

If you’re in an at-fault state like Illinois, the parties responsible for the accident will pay for your damages. Their insurance providers will be notified of the accident at the beginning of the process. It’s best to hire a personal injury attorney to represent you, particularly if you’ve suffered serious injuries or if multiple parties played a role in how the accident occurred. 

A claim can only be successful if it’s backed by solid evidence. Gather the evidence relevant to your accident, such as police reports, medical records, photos, dashcam footage, witness statements, and more to clearly establish fault. 

You must also retain records of any out-of-pocket medical expenses on treatments for car accident injuries as well as lost wages. You’re entitled to claim compensation for them all and this will serve as proof.

You won’t know how much the car accident case is worth unless you understand the extent of your injuries. Seek medical treatment that’s comprehensive to ascertain all of the injuries caused by the accident. 

It’s better to reach Maximum Medical Improvement to adequately understand the full extent of your injuries. All medical records, including medical bills, must be kept safely to serve as evidence.

Once your attorney has considered all of the evidence and accurately valued your car accident case, they may send a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter will highlight the facts of the case and request auto accident settlements that are fair and just. It also serves as notice to the insurance company that you intend to pursue the case.  

Upon receiving your letter, the company may assign an insurance adjuster to negotiate with you and settle the case. This typically involves a few rounds of offers and counteroffers, as insurance companies almost always initially make a low offer. 

Having personal injury lawyers during these negotiations is immensely helpful as they truly understand how much your claim is worth and have the negotiating skills needed to obtain a higher settlement.

If you agree to settle, you’ll have to sign a settlement agreement clearly setting out the amount you’ll receive and any other conditions that may have been set during the negotiations. For example, you may be required to release the at-fault party and their insurer from any future claims related to that accident. 

Once everything’s signed, what you’ve been waiting for finally happens. The insurance company should issue the settlement check after the agreement has been executed and the case settled. Now that you’ve been paid, that auto accident case is considered closed.

Negotiations after car accidents often fall through so the next step is to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. This is a lengthy process that may involve mediation, arbitration, or a court trial where all parties to the case will present their case and rely on the jury for a verdict.

What Factors Can Impact the Settlement Process?

There are many factors to consider during the settlement process, such as the quality of evidence, the severity of your injuries, insurance coverage limits, and the state’s statute of limitations. It’s best to have as many factors in support of your case as possible, as that will lead to a higher settlement offer.

Settlement amounts are typically higher in cases where the accident victim has suffered severe injuries, as their medical treatment tends to be more expensive and car accident victims also often require ongoing medical assistance. Proving the severity of injuries does require more documentation and effective negotiation.

The quality and quantity of evidence are both crucial to a successful car accident claim. There must be solid evidence like witness statements, accident scene photos, and police reports of the motor vehicle accident to support your personal injury claim.

How fault and liability are determined also influences the settlement amount. For example, in comparative fault jurisdictions, the claimant’s settlement may be reduced by the percentage of fault for the accident assigned to them.

The limits on the at-fault party’s insurance coverage can place a cap on the maximum payout, meaning that car accident victims who have suffered significant damages may not be able to receive full compensation due to those limits.

The settlement process can be prolonged significantly if the insurance company is slow to process the insurance claim or takes unusually long to respond to counter offers to settle.. It makes the process feel a lot more frustrating than it needs to be.

It’s possible to wrap things up fairly quickly if all parties demonstrate a willingness to negotiate and do so in good faith. It will reduce the time it takes to achieve a favorable settlement and all parties may walk away from the process without feeling defeated.

Victims may require ongoing medical treatment for injuries suffered in the accident. This may prevent them from taking part in negotiations. It’s also recommended to reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) before settling so all costs related to the treatment of injuries are accounted for and can be claimed.

All states have a legal deadline within which the personal injury claim must be filed. This adds pressure to the settlement process as simply waiting for too long and not filing the car accident claim within time may result in the victim losing their right to claim compensation.

The at-fault driver and their insurance provider will likely show more willingness to settle during the negotiations if it’s evident the victim’s car accident lawsuit has a good chance of winning at trial, and the victim is ready to take the accident lawsuit to trial should the negotiations fall through. 

That’s the impression insurance companies also get when you hire a car accident lawyer from a reputable law firm representing you in the negotiations.

Economic damages are quantifiable losses the victim must be compensated for. These include property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. If higher economic damages can be proven with evidence, it will likely lead to a higher settlement.

While not quantifiable, non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and emotional trauma can vary significantly depending on the facts of the case, and influence settlement negotiations.

When Can You Expect a Check After Reaching a Settlement?

The insurance company may only issue the settlement check once they receive the signed release from you. Once the car accident claim settles, it can typically take you or your personal injury lawyers anywhere from a few days to several weeks to get the check. Insurance companies can’t delay sending your check since most states impose deadlines for paying. 

The deadlines can differ by state. For example, Pennsylvania law mandates the insurance company pay funds within 20 calendar days after the case settles. Claimants can pursue legal action against them if the defendants don’t comply with this auto accident settlement timeline. 

In Illinois, defendants and insurance companies must issue the check within 14 days of written confirmation of the settlement from you. If all funds owed to you are not paid out within 30 days, you can obtain a court judgment against the insurance company for the funds plus court costs and interest. 

Does Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Expedite the Settlement?

Hiring a car accident lawyer may or may not settle your auto accident case sooner. It largely depends on how complex your case is and at what stage of the process you’re opting to hand the case over to a lawyer. 

What’s certain, though, is that working with a car accident attorney significantly increases your chances of securing a better outcome since everything is done properly. Wouldn’t you rather it take a bit more time and you receive more in compensation or the process wraps up quicker than you leaving money on the table in a low offer to settle?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, we pride ourselves on helping clients secure maximum compensation for their personal injury claims. We have over two decades of experience handling all types of car accident cases. 

You’ll get a free consultation and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay anything upfront. Call us at (888) 424-5757 for a free case review and our team will explain all of the legal options available to you and how much you could potentially win.

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

– Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

– Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

– Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

– Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother’s death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

– Lisa

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