Your top priorities after a car accident include healing from your injuries and being able to pay for the costs from the crash, including medical bills and missed wages. The biggest question most car accident victims have is about how long it takes to settle a car accident case and get the compensation they deserve.
How Long Will It Take for My to Receive a Settlement?
We know how hard it can be waiting for the money you need. As if the accident itself wasn’t enough, you’re also dealing with the stress of paying your living expenses while you’re out of work and watching the medical bills rack up. However, it’s important to understand that the amount of time it takes to receive a settlement can vary depending on the details of your case.
An immediate settlement provides quick relief, but it means you may leave a lot of money on the table. Taking time to negotiate for a settlement that accounts for all your damages can leave you with less stress in the long-run. The exact amount of time will depend on the specific details of your case.
A car accident case in Georgia may take anywhere between a few months and several years to settle. This can vary a lot depending on details like:
- The full value of your damages
- The length of time it takes for you to fully recover
- How willing the insurance company is to settle
- The degree of fault between you and the other driver
- Whether or not you go to trial
It’s best to work with a car accident lawyer who can examine each detail of your case and determine what the timeline may look like. They can give you the most accurate estimate of how long it will take to receive a settlement.
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What Steps Are Involved in How Long It Takes to Settle a Car Accident Case?
Let’s look at each phase of a typical Georgia car accident case and how it may affect how long it takes to settle.
Investigating and Gathering Evidence
Right after the accident, you will spend time gathering information for your injury claim and meeting with your car accident lawyer. They will help you compile evidence of the other driver’s fault, interview witnesses, obtain police reports and medical records, and more.
You will need to wait until you have a good idea of your medical prognosis before calculating the value of your injury claim. Many car accident injuries require long-term treatment and care, so you’ll want to account for all future expenses. This can take extra time to determine, but it’s worth it to make sure your claim includes all costs.
Remember that if you were not at fault for your car accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages (Georgia Code section 51-12-4). The other driver or insurance company may make you feel otherwise, but you have the right to financial recovery for all your costs.
Filing Your Claim
When your medical care is completed as fully as possible, you will get all the records from your doctor. This can take 45-60 days, in some cases.
Then, you and your lawyer will file a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company and wait for a response. This will be sent in the form of a demand letter outlining your total damages.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
After the insurance company receives your demand letter for your claim, they will need to respond. Unfortunately, some insurers will drag out their response time in hopes that it will encourage you to accept a low settlement once they do send an offer. If you have not heard back within 45-60 days, you and your lawyer can follow up.
The insurance company may also respond quickly to your claim—but with a lowball offer. Again, they hope you’ll accept this out of desperation because they know you’ll need the money. But you should never accept the first settlement offer.
If you don’t already have a car accident lawyer at this point, contact one as soon as possible. Your lawyer will negotiate back and forth with the insurance company and hopefully arrive at a settlement that actually helps cover your costs. If you agree on a settlement, you will typically receive a check about a month later.
Filing a Lawsuit
Sometimes, the insurance company won’t budge on how much they will offer you. Your lawyer may advise filing a lawsuit to get the damages you deserve. Preparing a lawsuit can take around a month. In Georgia, you would be suing the other driver directly, not the insurance company—but the insurance company may hire a lawyer to defend the driver.
The other driver will have 30 days after you file the lawsuit to respond. Then, you and your lawyer will prepare to go to court.
Discovery and Preparing for Trial
Before the trial actually happens, there is a discovery period that occurs in the Georgia courts. Both sides will gather information about the other through questions and requests for documents. Depending on the specifics of the case, this can take several months to complete.
Many cases that have gotten this far settle during the discovery period. However, if that doesn’t happen, you will continue to trial. Trials for car accident cases in Georgia typically last about two days on average, but there is a lot of time spent preparing before the actual trial date. You will need to be present at the trial, and if things go well, a judge or jury will award you the money you deserve.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today
Since every case is unique, the amount of time it takes to settle after a car accident depends on the details. That’s why it’s best to talk to a car accident lawyer in Georgia as soon as you can after the accident.
John Foy & Associates can be that lawyer for you. With over 20 years of experience helping car accident victims win what they deserve, we know what it takes to settle car accident cases. Call us today to schedule a FREE consultation at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online at any time. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.