Many car accidents are minor fender benders that cause no injuries to either party. Some accidents, however, turn out to be life-changing for at least one party involved, resulting in severe physical injuries, significant property damage, and mental anguish from having to deal with the accident’s aftermath.
In many cases, injured parties may lose wages and not be able to participate in the activities that bring joy to their lives, all because of another person’s negligence. If the injured party makes a claim and brings a personal injury case against the at-fault driver and their insurance company, the insurer will likely try to offer that driver a settlement.
Learn more about what is a car accident settlement and how an injured party might navigate the settlement process.
What Is a Car Accident Settlement?
A car accident settlement results from a negotiation process between two parties (and the people representing them). This process results in an agreement between the negligent driver deemed to be at fault for the accident and the injured victim. The purpose is to resolve the case out of court for a certain amount of money that fairly compensates the victim.
That amount of money (called damages) usually depends on several factors, including the severity of the person’s injuries and their lost wages, the degree of responsibility they take for the accident, and the at-fault driver’s available insurance.
Participating in the settlement process is a choice both parties make and is not required by law. However, it often saves both parties significant time and money since they won’t have to pursue litigation.
How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?
You might think that since your injuries and losses are apparent, the other party’s insurance company should just hand over a check to cover them. However, insurance companies don’t usually work this way.
The insurance company wants to take the case through a settlement process to verify the evidence and information you’ve presented. Often, it may dispute that information and have the negligent drive give their own version of the story. That is how settlements can play out.
Unfortunately, that legal process is complicated than you likely anticipated. How long can a car accident settlement take? It depends on many factors. If it seems like your settlement is taking too long, here are three common reasons that might be causing the delay.
The Complexity of a Case
It’s a fact that complex car accident cases will take much longer to resolve than simpler ones. You may have a difficult case on your hands if any of the following apply to you:
- The case involves multiple cars or multiple parties
- Your case involves extensive negotiation with the other party’s legal team
- Factual issues arise during the investigation and require an attorney’s follow-up
- One of the parties is asking for a large settlement offer to cover damages
- Multiple parties involved disagree about what led to or what happened during the accident
Cases like these are best resolved with the help of an attorney, but even with representation, it can be challenging to know how long for a car accident settlement to conclude.
If you were injured in a car accident and are receiving treatment for those injuries, you often must wait until your treatment ends to receive a settlement in that car accident case. That is because the other party’s insurance company likely won’t offer a fair settlement until it knows the extent of your medical bills. If your treatment is ongoing, there’s no way to receive this information as it’s too soon to know.
That means that if your injuries are severe, your car accident settlement process will take much longer than it would for someone with minor injuries. Additionally, if multiple vehicles are involved in the accident, this could prolong the case since you may have to wait for everyone else to finish their course of treatment for their injuries.
Car accident cases aren’t always cut and dried. In many cases, the other driver disputes liability in the accident, and you can rest assured that their insurance company doesn’t want to pay out a hefty settlement (or any settlement at all) if it does not have to. If discrepancies, questions, or conflicting evidence are presented, it will likely prolong your settlement.
Additionally, the other party’s insurance company may want to dispute the nature and extent of your injuries — especially if they think you seem just fine on the outside. This dispute doesn’t mean it has a valid argument, but having your attorney submit medical proof of your injuries for expert evaluation will take time, prolonging your settlement in the process.
How Is a Car Accident Settlement Determined?
Car accident settlements can be challenging to determine. Although you may feel you are entitled to a certain amount of money, a team of experts handles complex calculations like these based on several factors. Consider these three critical factors if you’re wondering how to determine settlement from a car accident.
To have a valid personal injury claim, you must have suffered some form of harm from the car accident. If this is the case, you may be eligible to receive damages to cover the cost of that harm. Some things that may count as damages include:
- Medical treatment expenses
- Lost wages from missing work
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering, such as mental anguish or loss of enjoyment of life
The more severe the accident and injuries and the more involved the medical treatment, the larger the settlement is likely to be.
If one of your loved ones has died in a car accident, the other driver may be liable for additional damages, including funeral and burial costs, or the loss of financial capacity and emotional support.
While some may have you believe that the damages you have suffered after being injured in a car accident is worth millions of dollars, it’s essential to realize that this isn’t often the case. How much you can receive in a car accident injury case is usually limited by how much liability insurance the at-fault driver carried at the time of the incident.
In some states, the minimum liability policy is $25,000. While some drivers carry more than that, they don’t have a legal obligation to do so.
If you are in an accident with a driver with a minimum liability policy, you won’t receive more than the policy limit. If you have more severe injuries, you may be able to recover damages from your own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage if you elect to purchase such a policy.
Most states follow a fault-based policy in which an injured driver can seek compensation from another party’s insurance company.
However, this sometimes comes with a caveat. In many of these states, car accident drivers can share the fault. That can happen when both drivers make a wrong move, resulting in a car accident.
In some states, drivers found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident have no right to receive damages in a personal injury claim. Even if a driver is found to be less than 50% at fault, their settlement amount may be reduced by the percentage of fault they shared in the accident.
The Car Accident Settlement Process
The car accident process of a settlement requires a series of steps following a particular order. These steps are:
- A liability claim is filed with the other driver’s insurance company
- An investigation of the accident is conducted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- The liability claim is approved or denied; this only indicates whether your claim is covered under the policy — it does not entitle you to fair compensation
- A damages claim is submitted for review to the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- A settlement is offered, and (if necessary) a negotiation takes place
You should speak with an attorney before starting this process. There are time limits for how long you can wait to file a claim, which vary from state to state. Additionally, what you do and who you talk to immediately following the accident (such as whether you seek medical treatment or admit fault) matters and has the potential to impact your claim and your settlement offer.
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions regarding car accident settlements.
What Is a Car Accident Settlement’s Requirements?
Before you can even get to the settlement phase of your case, you must file a personal injury claim. You must be able to show that another person’s negligence harmed you.
Once you get past your case’s claim and investigation phases, the insurance company will let you know whether your claim is accepted or denied. If your claim is denied, this means that the insurance company is disputing your claim and will not compensate you for your damages.
How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take With a Lawyer?
Car accident settlements can take a long time because of ongoing medical treatment, insurance company disputes, and other issues that are out of the control of an attorney.
While working with a lawyer won’t fix everything, your attorney can, at the very least, ensure that your paperwork is submitted correctly and on time and offer expert negotiation tactics. That alone can save both parties a great deal of time, although there are no guarantees about how much time it will save. An attorney is usually your best bet to the quickest resolution.
How Long Do Car Accident Settlements Usually Take if You’re Not at Fault?
If you are the injured driver and are not found to be at fault, your settlement may still take considerable time. If your injuries are severe and require long-term treatment, the other driver’s insurance company may wait until your treatment is finished to determine its settlement offer.
If there is a question about your version of the facts or whether you should take at least some responsibility, this may prolong your case.
Secure Pre-Settlement Funding With Oasis Financial
While you may see your own car accident claim as an open and shut case, it’s essential to realize that most of them do not work this way — especially if your losses are extensive and you deserve sizable compensation.
Court battles are known for being long and drawn out, and the settlement process is often no different. While most auto accident settlements take 9 to 18 months, yours could take longer, depending on the circumstances.
The question is: do you have time to wait that long? While you’re waiting for disputes to be resolved and medical records to be validated, your bills are likely piling up as you pay for medical and day-to-day living expenses. Missed wages can cause even more financial hardship, making the waiting game feel impossible. Fortunately, there’s help on the horizon.
Oasis Financial understands these situations and has made pre-settlement funding available to those awaiting compensation from their car accident settlement. Pre-settlement funding allows a company like Oasis to give you money upfront in exchange for the right to receive a portion of your future financial settlement.
That enables injured drivers to get the cash they need now without paying out of pocket. Funding is provided based on the strength of your claim, and you don’t have to worry about repayment until the case is resolved. To get started, apply online, and if approved, you can receive funds in as little as 24 hours.
Oasis Financial puts risk-free funding in your hand when you need it most. If your settlement is taking longer than expected and you’re looking for financial relief, apply today and learn how we can help alleviate your worries so you can focus on your recovery.
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