Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is stressful — you may be facing a long recovery period, you don’t have any income coming in, and you aren’t sure how your bills are going to get paid. Debts are piling up. How long will it before you can get compensation for your injuries? How long does a car accident settlement take?
There are two things to keep in mind. First, the insurance company knows that you’re in a difficult position and will use that to their advantage to strong-arm you into accepting a low settlement offer. Second, the longer you hold out and the closer your case nears trial, the higher your settlement amount is likely to be.
With that in mind, let’s discuss what a typical timeline looks like in a car accident case.
What Is the General Timeline of a Car Accident Claim?
While every case is unique, the same general steps are involved almost every car accident claim. If your claim involves serious injuries, missed time from work, and substantial property damage, it’s usually in your best interests to speak to a car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Your first order of business will be to file a report with your own insurance company or a claim against another driver’s insurance. Let’s assume that it is very clear that the other driver was at fault for the accident and they cooperate fully with their insurance company. A claim like this can settle in a few months.
However, once you begin asking for pain and suffering damages or back wages, it won’t be the other driver who is throwing a wrench in your plans. It will be their insurance company. The insurance company doesn’t turn a profit by paying out large settlements. They make a profit by reducing the value of otherwise valid settlements.
Settlements Can Take Months or Even Years
Let’s say you were in a car accident where the other driver was 100% liable, and you suffered broken ribs and a concussion. You go to the hospital and are treated for those injuries, you get the bill, you miss a week from work, and then you’re back on your feet.
What kind of compensation can you look forward to in such a claim? You would be entitled to the total value of your medical expenses, lost wages during the week you missed work, and pain and suffering damages. Economic damages (like the medical bills and lost wages) are easy to prove.
Non-economic damages like pain and suffering, however, require medical proof, your own statement, and even a doctor’s statement to corroborate your claim. The insurance company will get hung up on paying out this money. They may offer you a substantially lower figure than you’re entitled to.
Factors That Could Affect the Length of Settlement
So how long does a car accident settlement take? The answer depends on several important factors:
- Extent and severity of your injuries: Insurance companies will look for ways to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you say. Any claim you make must be substantiated by medical evidence. If you have pre-existing injuries, the adjuster may try to assert that your injuries were not caused by the car accident, only aggravated.
- Responsiveness of third parties: The length of time it takes to settle depends on the timely submission of medical records to the insurance company. They will not agree to any settlement until they have that information. This can create a bottleneck situation.
- The insurance adjuster involved: The adjuster is responsible for coming up with a figure to settle your claim. If they refuse to believe the severity of your injuries, this could lead to litigation, which can then delay the settlement process.
How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take? Ask a San Antonio Attorney
Brylak Law knows how important your settlement is to you, and we understand the pressure that you’re under. If you have medical expenses and bills piling up, you have options to forestall payment until you reach a reasonable settlement. Don’t be intimidated or pressured by big insurance companies trying to lowball you. Speak to a San Antonio car accident attorney who can help you understand what to expect and how to maximize your chances of receiving far compensation for your injuries. Contact us today.