How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement After a Car Accident?
We understand why you’re asking, “How long does it take to get a settlement after a car accident?” Like most people, your car accident likely resulted in expenses you didn’t have before. If you were injured, you’re likely also dealing with medical bills, trauma, income losses, and other expenses. While wanting to receive a settlement check as quickly as possible is understandable, you should have an experienced personal injury lawyer review any early settlement offer from the insurance company before you accept it. Once you accept an offer, you will not be able to ask for additional money later if you find out your expenses exceeded the amount that you received.
Several factors can affect the length of time it might take to settle your case, including the following:
- Whether you were injured
- Whether you have reached your maximum medical improvement
- Time necessary to get your medical records
- Time involved with getting a response to your demand from the insurance company
- Whether you will have to file a lawsuit
Were You Injured?
If your car accident only involved property damage, your claim should settle fairly quickly. In most cases, people can handle property damage-only claims on their own without an attorney. You will need to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. The company will send an adjuster to look at your vehicle to determine the extent of your property damage losses. The insurance company will then make an offer to settle your claim. If you accept the offer and sign the form, the company will then send you a check. This process can take a few weeks. However, it could take longer if there is a dispute about whether you or the other driver was at fault.
How Long Will It Take to Settle If You Were Injured?
If you were injured, your case will likely take more time to settle. You should also retain a personal injury lawyer if you were injured in a car accident because these types of claims are more complex than property damage-only claims.
Before you receive a settlement offer, you will first have to reach maximum medical improvement or fully recover. This can take months or years, depending on the extent of your injuries. If future surgeries or treatment will be needed, however, your lawyer can ask a medical expert to estimate your future treatment costs so that your case can move forward.
You will also have to get all of the medical records, doctor’s reports, and medical bills, which can take a few days or up to a few months. Obtaining copies of all the medical records is important because your claim’s value will depend on your past and future medical expenses. Your lawyer can help you get copies of your medical records and bills. In some cases, it might also be necessary to get a medical expert’s opinion to clarify any ambiguities and help determine the likely future costs you might face.
Once your medical records have been received, your attorney can value your claim and write a demand letter. Once the demand package is submitted to the insurance company, it can take anywhere from 15 days to three months to get a response. The insurance company will need to evaluate your claim. In most cases, it will take around three weeks for the company to evaluate your claim and respond to the demand. However, if it takes longer, your attorney will follow up to keep it moving forward.
Will I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Many car accident claims are settled outside of the court process. However, if you were seriously injured, you might have to file a formal lawsuit before you will be able to reach a fair settlement. You might need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company makes an unreasonably low offer or disputes liability. If you do have to file a lawsuit, your case might take months or even years to resolve.
Insurance companies sometimes send early settlement offers in injury accident cases. These early offers are frequently low-ball offers that the companies hope the victims will accept so that they can minimize their losses. If you receive an early settlement offer, do not accept it until you have had your attorney review it.
Once a settlement agreement is reached, it can still take some time for the insurance company to send the check to your attorney’s office. Your lawyer will then pay any medical bills and take his or her attorney’s fees out of the proceeds and write you a check for the balance.
Get Help from the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave
If you have been in a serious car accident because of the negligent actions of someone else, you should speak to an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave as soon as possible. Call us today at 417-322-2222 for a free case evaluation.