Recovering from your injuries is not the only thing that will take time after a drunk driving accident. The law entitles you to pursue financial compensation for your damages. Getting a settlement to cover all of your expenses can take as little as a few months to several years. The factors behind how long it takes to settle your claim depend on your case, its circumstances, and the severity of your damages.
The lawyers at John Foy & Associates have worked on drunk driving accident claims for many years. We know that you should not have to pay due to the negligence of a drunk driver. Hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law and get compensated today. For a free consultation, call us at (404) 471-3348.
The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 9-3-33 states that personal injury victims have two years to file a claim for their damages. If you pass these two years, you will not be able to file. Always remember to follow your deadline while you prepare to file. Many people miss their window of opportunity and get left with no compensation to pay for their damages.
The Timeline from Filing a Claim to Settling It
The timeline for an average claim typically follows this process:
- Filing a claim before the deadline.
- Once the claim gets submitted, the insurance company and the at-fault party must respond.
- Negotiations will happen out of court initially.
- If negotiations are successful, you will receive a settlement.
- If negotiations fall through, you will go to trial in court to decide on whether a settlement will get awarded or not.
If you negotiate out of court, it will usually take around one to three months to finalize and receive your settlement. However, if you end up going to trial, you could end up waiting much longer.
Both civil and criminal courts take a long time to reach a final verdict on a case. The courts often take a long time due to the caseload they have to deal with and the long process it takes to gather a jury and have them listen to all the arguments.
Most cases will settle out of court. Insurance companies typically will not escalate to court unless they are certain that they can fight back against your claim. Whatever the scenario, it is always best to have a lawyer by your side during negotiations. Having a lawyer can help speed up the settlement process and get you compensation faster.
Why Settling a Claim Can Take a Long Time
Settling your claim takes a long time due to a variety of factors.
Proving Fault Through Negligence
When it comes to holding the drunk driver accountable for their actions, the burden of proof falls on you. Even if the drunk driver gets a DUI charge put on them in criminal court, you still need to prove that their accident directly caused your damages by:
- Showing they had a duty of care.
- Through negligent behavior such as driving while intoxicated, they breached that duty of care.
- Because of their negligence, an accident happened.
- Through that accident, you got injured and sustained damages.
Negligence is hard to prove without evidence to support your case. It is essential to retain all of your bills, medical records, police reports, and all information pertinent to your case, no matter how trivial it may seem.
Comparative Fault Laws
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-12-33 describes how comparative fault works. Essentially, if you are more than 50% responsible for your accident, even if the driver was drunk, you cannot file a claim. You can still file at any percentage below 50%, but your settlement will get deducted by the amount you are responsible for.
The defense and the insurance company will try to shift blame onto you to reduce your settlement amount or avoid liability for your accident altogether. These arguments back and forth can take a lot of time and thus lengthen the negotiation or trial process significantly.
Finishing Medical Treatment
While you should always try to file as soon as you can, rushing into it is not smart either. You should wait until every expense gets accounted for, especially medical treatment. If you file for a claim and settle before your medical treatment completes, you could end up paying out of pocket for whatever costs are leftover.
Once a claim gets settled, the at-fault party is no longer required to pay you compensation. Sometimes, you need to wait before you file a claim to make sure all of your damages get incorporated into your settlement’s total amount.
Talk to Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Today
John Foy & Associates has recovered over one billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for many clients over the years. We want to see the drunk driver that caused your accident punished and help you receive a fair settlement that covers all of your damages. For a free consultation at no risk to you, call us today at (404) 471-3348.