For accident victims, the process of recovering damages in the aftermath can be involved and time-consuming.
Unfortunately, there is no fixed timeline, and all cases differ.
Even if it takes time, most personal injury cases settle before going to trial. Obtaining a fair settlement for injuries sustained in an accident involves several steps. Typically, the insurance company starts with a lowball initial offer, and only after intense negotiation with your attorney do you arrive at a fair and reasonable settlement.
So, not only will the settlement amount of personal injury cases differ from case to case, but so will the length of the settlement process. If you’re struggling to pay bills while waiting for your settlement, we can help. Uplift Legal Funding offers lawsuit loans for car accidents to plaintiffs nationwide.
Most motor vehicle accident cases are settled before going to trial.
You will find that most personal injury attorneys advise you against taking a case to trial for these reasons:
1. An experienced attorney will have an accurate idea of what your injuries cost, both in terms of medical treatment and damages. Most attorneys do not require the input of a court to determine a fair value for your case.
2. Indeed, juries are unpredictable by nature. Some jury members might find it tough to remain objective when it comes to a personal injury case like a car accident. Sometimes, jury members who have been involved in a car accident might be more sympathetic toward you, but you could find they relate more to the defendant. Court proceedings are costly, and attorneys will try to achieve an out-of-court settlement rather than relying on the whims of a jury.
If one of the parties refuses to agree to settle, the case will go to trial. The time this takes will vary from case to case. Most trials take at least one year to conclude from the date of the accident.
Problems with Your Case
Various problems with the case can also lead to delays in the settlement process.
Sometimes, proving that the other driver was completely at fault can be challenging, especially if this is questioned after the accident. Your attorney may need some time to prove liability.
Even assuming liability is clear, it still needs to be proven. Negligence is the most common legal ground for liability. Negligence is defined as failing to behave with the level of care expected from someone exercising ordinary prudence in the same situation.
To establish negligence on the part of the other party, you must prove that:
- The liable party breached a duty of care by causing the accident. The duty of care in this context is often a simple obligation to operate a vehicle in a safe, lawful manner. Often, liability does not rest entirely with the other party. Defective auto parts can cause accidents, and in this case, liability may rest with the manufacturer.
- The other party engaged in reckless or careless actions rather than exercising care. This could be driving while texting or driving under the influence.
- The above breach of care caused the accident and resulted in your injuries. Only those breaches of care that leave you injured lead to legal liability.
In some cases, the insurance company may refuse to accept the evidence you present. This will prolong the settlement process. If you find you are unable to get anywhere, your attorney may be forced to file suit and take your case to trial.
Most low-value settlements will take less time to resolve than higher-value settlements.
For personal injury cases where damages amount to only a few thousand dollars, you could find your attorney manages to achieve a fair settlement in a few weeks without needing to get involved in vigorous negotiation. A swift settlement means you can get the compensation you deserve without needing to resort to pre-settlement funding.
If injuries are severe and liable to lead to permanent disability as well as serious inconvenience, pain and suffering, the compensation award will be correspondingly higher. When damages are higher, the insurance company will more closely scrutinize the claim. High-value settlements almost always involve some degree of resistance on the part of the insurer. It takes time to respond to concerns and counter-arguments raised by the insurance provider, especially if the claims adjuster is attempting to excuse the company from all or some liability.
You can also assume that with high dollar value cases, the insurance company will fight the case as if it is going to trial rather than immediately entering negotiations. This is also likely to prolong the settlement process, and it could ultimately end up with your case going to trial.
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Time to Recover Settlement
Your attorney will not be in a position to determine the value of your case if you are still recovering from injuries you sustained in the accident. You need to attain MMI (maximum medical improvement) before you can establish the true value of your case.
In the case of severe car accident injuries, a case could take months to settle, sometimes even years. Your attorney can make a claim to ensure you receive the medical treatment you need.
Other factors that can delay the issuing of your settlement include:
- Releases that need signing and notarizing before the check is ordered by the claims adjuster
- How long it takes for the account department at the insurance company to issue the check
- How long it takes to mail the check
- The bank’s hold on the settlement check
- Delays for the insurance company to direct reimburse medical providers
- How long it takes for the check issued to your attorney to clear
- What type of entity is responsible for paying your settlement (claims against government entities often take longer than those against insurance companies)
[LEARN MORE]: Why is My Car Accident Settlement Taking so Long?