It’s a frequent question with no real answer. Car accident settlements can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on some key factors.
What determines car accident settlement time?
1. Strength of liability
Is liability contested? If so, this is going to be a bit of a hurdle.
Usually, a traffic accident report can attest to who’s fault the accident is.
If the accident was a rear-ender, this also makes it easy to tell who is at fault.
However, if the accident is less cut-and-dry, then getting a settlement may involve a few more steps including accident reconstruction.
If the defense has any way to deny liability, they will try.
2. Treatment and injuries
How badly were you hurt? What treatment do you need?
One of the most time consuming aspects of a personal injury case can be treating the injury itself. It is unusual for a personal injury attorney to make a demand before treatment is complete.
If you have minor injuries that only require a few chiro appointments or physical therapy, it is likely your attorney will be able to reach a settlement fairly quickly.
However, major injuries may require several surgeries and time to recover. The treatment portion of your case alone could lengthen time to settlement by years.
This insures that you are fully compensated for medical costs associated with treating your injuries.
While it is possible that you might have future treatment as a result of your injury, its important to get the bulk of it done before a settlement is reached.
How much does the insurance company want to fight?
If an insurance company wants to be difficult, they have a few options.
Insurance companies can deny liability, make low-ball offers and basically force your attorney to sue to collect. Litigation can be an extremely lengthy process.
Once your attorney files the lawsuit, there are several steps you have to go through before reaching a verdict.
Discovery comes first, each involved party basically learns about the other’s case. Documents including witness statements, any videos or photos of the accident or damage, medical records, etc. are shared between the involved parties.
Next up are depositions which involve a series of questions about the incident and its impact on your life.
After depositions come pre-trial motions and getting a trial date. Civil courts are increasingly burdened by lawsuits. Often it can be tough to get a court date.
Frequently, courts require mediations, settlement conferences or arbitration to try to come up with a reasonable settlement before going to trial.
If a settlement cannot be reached before the court date, then trial begins. Usually trial itself takes no more than a few weeks.
So I’ve got a verdict, when do I get my money?
Usually your attorney receives the settlement money after a few weeks. Your attorney then disburses portions of your settlement to lien holders such as medical providers, pays themselves, and then finally cuts you a check for the remaining. All in, it could be a month or two before you actually have money in-hand.
Uplift Legal Funding
Uplift Legal Funding can help bridge the gap between your injury and settlement. We help plaintiffs nationwide cover living expenses with car accident loans while they wait for settlement.