After being hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you have the right to file an injury claim for compensation for your damages. Many injury victims wonder how long it actually takes for a car accident claim to settle. The answer depends on the case, but it typically takes anywhere from a few months to several years.
Some cases are fairly straightforward and leave you with a settlement within months. Other times, the details are more complex and require a lot of work behind the scenes. Either way, a personal injury attorney can help you reduce the time it takes to settle your claim by reviewing the facts and offering assistance along the way.
You Must Submit All Your Medical Documentation Before Your Case Can Settle
To have the best idea of how much you deserve in damages, your attorney must have all your relevant medical documentation. This is not negotiable. Once your lawyer has all your medical records, including bills and receipts for prescriptions and care, only then can s/he determine a fair damage award to fight for.
Not only that, but medical records also prove the extent of your injuries. If you claim to have a severe injury but don’t have the documentation to back it up, you may receive less than you’re entitled to – or be denied a damages award entirely.
Other Factors that Contribute to Your Settlement Timeline
Additional facts that can influence how fast your car accident claim settles include:
- Issues with determining and proving liability
- The extent of your injuries and other damages
- The quality and quantity of evidence of your damages
- How soon the insurance company responds to your claim
- The amount of settlement negotiation involved
- Whether or not you hire an experienced car accident lawyer
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Complications that Can Affect When Your Case Settles
The time it takes your case to settle could be longer if certain factors exist that could complicate matters. Some of these factors can include:
- A more severe personal injury with an uncertain projected treatment plan and/or recovery
- Little to no proof of liability
- The wrongful death of a loved one
- Multiple negligent parties, such as a truck driver and the company for which he works
If any of these factors apply to your case, you may want to seriously consider hiring an attorney to help you. Not only will it help your case progress more smoothly, but it will ensure you did not leave any damages out of your claim to which you would otherwise be entitled.
How Do You Determine and Prove Liability?
If a driver’s negligence led to your accident and injuries, they are likely liable for your damages. However, sometimes liable is difficult to prove or there is a disagreement about who actually caused the accident.
If you have trouble proving the other driver was liable, you may have a hard time getting the insurance company to make a reasonable offer. This can slow down the whole claims process. Thankfully, a car accident lawyer can help you determine how best to proceed.
Determining Compensation for Your Injuries from the Car Accident
The details surrounding injuries can also play a large role in how long a car accident claim takes to settle.
If you have serious injuries that you are still receiving treatment for, it may take weeks or even months to fully calculate what your medical damages will be. It might take a while for your doctor to determine how long your recovery will take or how extensive your treatment will be. Your lawyer will need to know this information will account for all your damages in your claim.
Less-specific injury claims can also slow down the process. If you have soft-tissue injuries, such as whiplash, or generalized pain, the insurance company may raise a red flag and require additional information, as these types of injuries are often used in fraudulent claims
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is the point at which your condition has improved as fully as it is expected to, even if you were to receive further treatment.
It’s best to wait until you have reached MMI before settling your case. Otherwise, you and your lawyer won’t be able to put the most accurate value on your damages. If you try to settle before reaching MMI, you won’t be compensated for any additional losses you face from your car accident injuries in the future.
An Expert Can Help You Prove Your Damages Were Related to Another’s Negligence
Sometimes, an injury victim’s doctor will have trouble determining if their injuries were truly caused by negligence in the accident. If this happens, you can bet the insurance company will use it as a reason to deny compensation for those damages.
You will need to look for a doctor who can testify that your injuries were caused by the other driver’s negligence. This takes extra time and can increase the time needed to reach a fair settlement.
The Insurance Company Can Take Forever to Respond
Insurance companies may take their sweet time responding to your claim, which is frustrating and will make the case last longer. An insurer might delay responding because they hope you will get tired of waiting and drop the case. Or, if you have a lot of damages, they might take extra time to investigate every detail of liability and damages.
That being said, insurance companies in Georgia do have strict deadlines on personal injury claims. They have:
- Fifteen days to acknowledge they received a claim.
- Fifteen days after the filing of the claim to send proof of loss (with instructions for filling it out).
- Fifteen days to accept or deny a claim after receiving the Proof of Loss.
- Sixty days from the notice of the claim to make a final decision to accept or deny a claim. (This is the maximum amount of time the insurer has to make a decision.)
- Ten days from when they notify you that they have accepted your claim to pay.
When to Negotiate and When to File a Lawsuit
Once the insurance company has either accepted your claim and made you an offer or denied your claim, you must decide how to proceed. You can either:
- Accept a claim offer
- Appeal a claim denial
- Reject the offer and negotiate for a higher settlement
- Or reject the offer and file a civil lawsuit for compensation
It’s best to consult with a car accident lawyer before moving forward at this step. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of each and discuss what is best for you.
Obviously, accepting a claim offer will settle your case the soonest. However, it’s not worth it if the offer is far below what you need to recover your damages. If you appeal or begin negotiating for a higher settlement, the claim will take longer. And if you file a civil suit in court, the process will take even longer.
Phases of a Car Accident Lawsuit
If you and your lawyer decide to proceed to civil court, you will need to do a lot of preparation for the various stages:
There are further opportunities before trial to reach a satisfactory agreement for both parties, but if that doesn’t happen, the case will go to trial. This can take anywhere from several months to up to several years, depending on the details of your case.
How Long It Takes to Get Your Settlement Check Can Vary
If you and the insurance company are able to agree on a fair settlement, the process to receive your check typically takes around four to six weeks.
The insurance company will have you sign a release form. This officially settles the claim and states that you are giving up any right to sue the driver or another party who caused your injuries.
Once you send the release and the insurance company receives it, they will pay the amount of money you agreed on. This is usually sent as a check to your car accident lawyer. After lawyer fees have been deducted, you will receive the remaining balance as a check from your lawyer.
Get a Free Consultation with a Georgia Car Accident Attorney Today
Need help with your car accident claim? At John Foy & Associates, we can help! Our experienced and compassionate car accident lawyers will represent you through every step of the process.