One of the first things that car accident victims want to know when they speak with an attorney at their free consultation is how long it will take to get their settlement check. Finances can be a severe problem after a car accident. Bills are coming due, and you may be unable to work. Family members may also miss work depending on the accident’s severity.
As a result, accident victims carry a lot of stress about money. They are anxious to file a claim and settle it as soon as possible. Nonetheless, there is a strategy involved when dealing with an insurance company.
Nobody Can Give You an Exact Timetable with Confidence
First, an attorney’s answer about how long your case may take will be a prediction based on their professional experience. A lawyer is not allowed to guarantee any result in your case. The best they can do is give you a ballpark estimate.
The range they may give you can be so broad that it may not even help you much. For example, if a lawyer tells you that your case may take between three months and two years, those words may not do much for you other than let you know that it can take a while.
The best advice that an attorney can give you is that a car accident settlement will take time. While you are understandably worried about your financial situation, you should not rush to a settlement because you may be leaving money on the table.
If you agree to a settlement too quickly, you may end up selling your legal rights for pennies on the dollar. That is precisely the result that the insurance company wants because your settlement check comes out of their account.
What Steps to Take if You Were Involved in a Car Accident?
Many Things Must Happen Before You Get Your Check
You must take numerous steps before the money from your car accident settlement can hit your bank account. Nothing is automatic or ensured. The first requirement is proving that someone else was to blame for the accident. It can take time for your lawyer to investigate the accident and assemble the proof when liability is not straightforward,
Before filing an insurance claim, you must do some legwork and preparation on your end. You must put a comprehensive and persuasive package in front of the insurance company to have the best chance of getting the most possible compensation. Not only will you need to have evidence that shows what happened in your car accident, but you also need to explain and prove your damages. Your lawyer will need to review your records and situation to calculate the value of your claim. The insurance company knows what your claim is worth, so this is information that you need to have.
Then, much of the timing of your claim depends on the insurance company and how motivated they are to settle your case. Most often, the insurance company is not in a hurry. They know you are and try to take advantage of that in a settlement negotiation.
What You Must Get in a Car Accident Settlement?
Any car accident must pay you for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
While the insurance company has some legal duties to handle your claim promptly, it does not mean they will immediately offer you the full amount of money you deserve. They may make you a settlement offer in short order. Chances are that it will not be an outstanding settlement offer. Likely, it will be for far less than you deserve. You do not have to accept the settlement offer because the insurance company is not in control of your legal rights.
How the Settlement Negotiation Will Work
At this point, the settlement negotiation between you and the insurance company begins. Once you receive a low settlement offer, your lawyer will review it and advise you to reject it. Then, you will make a counteroffer for less than your initial claim. This back and forth is how negotiations work.
You may end up exchanging multiple offers and counteroffers with the insurance company. They do not have much financial incentive to settle your case quickly, but they know you do. Eventually, the gap between the two parties may begin to narrow.
The timing of your case may also depend on the size of your claim. You can expect a more detailed negotiation when your claim is more significant. The insurance company is more cautious about writing large checks, but there is also more room for a difference of opinion when the numbers are more significant.
The timing of your settlement may also depend on what steps you have to take to get your money. Your settlement may be quicker when you file a claim and negotiate directly with the insurance company to agree. Even when you file a claim, there is no guarantee that things will happen quickly.
A settlement can also happen when you file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. Your lawyer may advise you that the best thing for your case is to go straight to court. When you file a lawsuit, you are still dealing with the insurance company because they have a legal duty to defend their driver.
Most Car Accident Cases Will Settle Without a Trial
Most car accident lawsuits will not go to a trial. They will also settle at some point before the jury decides the matter. The insurance company often wants to settle the case to minimize the risk that a sympathetic jury can award the plaintiff a large amount of money. However, a settlement in a lawsuit may take longer than an agreement in a claim filed directly with the insurance company. Their defense tactics may differ, and an insurance company knows that time is on its side when they have all the money and you have little of it.
Much depends on the insurance company. Ironically, some significant cases can settle relatively quickly. You may get a quick check if you have substantial damages well above the policy limit and the other driver was clearly at fault. Then, you may also have to settle with your insurance company because you are using your underinsured motorist coverage to pay for the rest of the damages. You will then have to negotiate with two insurance companies, each with different processes and motivations.
The Legal Process Will Take Time, but You Should Not Rush
The legal process will take months to years. There are many different steps in the process. The good news is that once you settle your case with the insurance company, it will not take long for you to get your money. It may be only a couple of weeks from reaching the actual settlement to the time the money is in your account. The heavy lifting comes when you need to negotiate car accident compensation.
Numerous pieces of lawyer advertising may tell you to rush your case because of the statute of limitations. That is only partially true. Of course, the statute of limitations looms large in every case, but it does not mean you must rush your case to the conclusion.
On the contrary, once you have begun the legal process, you should take time to reach the proper settlement. $50,000 will not do you much good when facing $100,000 in damages. Then, you have given away your legal right to full compensation for far less than it is worth.
Why do You Need Patience in Your Settlement Negotiation?
You need patience in a settlement negotiation because that is how you get the most possible money. You need to wait out the insurance company because, at some point, they will get more serious about settling the case.
The insurance company often does not want to go to a full trial because it costs them money to pay their defense firm and juries often side with the plaintiff and award more damages than an insurance company might have paid in a settlement. At some point, the insurance company will get more serious about a settlement agreement and begin to raise its offer.
Your Lawyer Will Handle the Negotiation with the Insurance Company
Negotiating with the insurance company sounds like it can be challenging, and it is if you are trying to attempt it on your own. If you handle your own negotiation, you may get your money more quickly, but you will get much less.
The insurance company may make you a meager settlement offer and pressure you to take it. Thinking that the insurance company has more power than it does, you may take it quickly. Only later will you realize that you might have gotten more money had you waited out the insurance company and been more patient.
By then, it is too late to do anything about it because you have already signed a release form that explicitly states that you will not ask for anything more in the future. The insurance company is no longer responsible for paying damages.
Speeding Up the Case Is Not Necessarily Within Your Power
There is not much you can do to move things along in your case. You are not necessarily in control of what happens. The one thing that you do have within your control is when you call a car accident lawyer to begin work on your case. The sooner you call a lawyer, the sooner you can begin the legal process.
Delaying this phone call can cost you valuable time. In a car accident case, time can be money. The longer you are unprotected, the more you risk getting nothing for your case or far less than you deserve.
Once you hire a lawyer, they can begin to get to work quickly, but much depends on you. The prospect of financial compensation should be enough motivation to get you to act quickly.
How You Can Minimize Delays?
In addition, quickly respond when your lawyer has a question or asks you for documentation. You do not want delays on your end.
Furthermore, you can also move things by getting the medical help you need and following all the doctor’s recommendations. You can only file the claim when you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement. This term defines when your condition has stabilized and you can expect no further recovery.
Before you can file a claim, you need to know the full extent of your damages to seek compensation for them. Accordingly, you should be diligent about your medical treatment and do what the doctor told you, both to mitigate your damages (as is your legal obligation) and to reach a point faster where you know the scope of your damages.
Car accident settlements take time, but your legal rights do not change. If someone else was negligent and responsible for your car accident injuries, they have a legal obligation to pay you for the full extent of your damages. The first thing that you should do is contact an experienced lawyer, so they can begin to get to work on your case.
While you might think getting a quick payment is desirable, injury victims often take home much less than they deserve when they accept them. By minimizing delays while also remaining patient and confident in your car accident lawyer, you can achieve the best possible results in your case.
Contact a trusted car accident law firm immediately.