Following a car accident, a common question often asked by the victim is, ‘when can I expect to receive a settlement?’ Unfortunately, no matter how straightforward or simple a car accident case is, settlements take time. Sometimes, a car accident settlement may be reached within a few months, while in some complicated cases, it can take 1-2 years before a settlement is reached.
The time to settle depends on many factors which include the following:
- Medical treatment: One common reason for the delay in the settlement is if the victim has not recovered from their injuries. Depending on the injury, this can take from one week to several years. In many cases of brain or spinal cord injury, recovery is slow and can take months or years. Fracture of the large bones like the femur or pelvis not only take months to heal, but often there is extensive rehabilitation required which can last up to a year. For example, the patient may have injured his neck, and a disc may have herniated. In most cases, initial therapy is conservative, but if no recovery occurs, then surgery may be required in future. If one decides to settle quickly and prematurely, and if the injury is chronic, the victim may be the one to lose in the long run because their medical expenses could be much higher then the settlement they agreed to. No one can predict with 100% certainty that the recovery will be complete within a finite period of time or that there will not be future problems. Hence, most car accident lawyers advise that people who get injured in car accidents visit the doctor regularly and be aware of each stage of their recovery process – the current and short-term recovery signs and potential long-term treatment requirements.
- Collection of medical records: Before a car accident settlement can be reached, your car accident attorney will collect all the medical bills, the amount of lost wages and expert reports on the estimated cost of future medical treatment. This often takes time, and depending on the injury, can take months, and in some severe cases, years. Car accident lawyers often get expert opinions from several specialists to determine the type of injury, its prognosis, and chance of recovery. These specialists, in turn, carefully evaluate all the medical records before making a decision. This process can easily take anywhere from 3-9 months.
- Negotiation with Insurance Companies: In car accidents, there is usually correspondence between car accident attorneys and the insurance companies. The victim’s car accident lawyer usually sends in a formal demand package to the other party’s car accident lawyers and their insurance company. This back and forth communication can take anywhere from 14 -90 days. Most insurance companies closely evaluate the demand package, have a discussion with their financial team and lawyers before they reply. Once all the information is collected, a demand package is sent to the opposing lawyer and or insurance company. In most cases, the opposing insurance or lawyer may not agree with the compensation and will, in turn, talk to their medical experts. Hence, this can result in debate, offers, counteroffers, and so on.
- Mediation: In some cases, mediation may be required before a judge to settle the matter before it goes to trial. A large majority of car accident cases are settled during mediation, which is also a time-consuming process.
- The Trial: If the case goes to trial, a settlement can take time depending on the evidence and the specifics of the case. Some cases are straight forward, and settlements are easy, but there are others that require a bit more time and effort. Medical evidence may need more time to be usable in court; investigators may still be working on the reasons of the accident etc. A settlement in such a situation may not be reached for several years. But in most cases, car accident lawyers try to do their best to get compensation for their clients so that they can move on with their life and focus on their recovery.
If you were in a car accident and have suffered injuries, you should call our car accident lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton LLP. Our lawyers will do their best to gather all relevant information and evidence related to your case and begin correspondence with the courts and the insurance companies. Our goal is to provide our clients with the fastest possible settlement. Call us today and speak to our car accident lawyers so that they can start working on your case as soon as possible.