During initial consultations prospective clients frequently ask attorneys how long it will take to settle their car accident claim. While we understand that the answer to this question is very important to injured victims who are facing mounting medical bills, it is a tricky question to answer. The real answer is that it depends because there are a variety of factors that often determine whether it will take weeks or months to secure your car accident settlement. This articles explores several of these key factors, however, each accident is unique and you should discuss what the proper amount of time for a car accident settlement is in your case with an experienced car accident lawyer.

Factors that May Influence How Long Your Settlement Will Take

Generally speaking, after a car accident occurs a claim is filed with an insurance provider. If the insurance provider ultimately determines that they are obligated to issue a payment then they will convey a settlement offer to the injured individual. If the injured party believes that they are legally entitled to more money then they will enter into negotiations with the insurance provider until a settlement agreement is reached. There are a number of factors that influence how long these negotiations will take, but some of the most important include:

  • The Amount of Money at Stake: When a lot of money is at stake settlement negotiations tend to be more time consuming. When a claim is worth a substantial amount of money the insurance company that is on the hook will more likely than not take their time to carefully investigate every aspect of the claim and will fight harder if liability is not clear.
  • The Severity and Nature of Your Injuries: This is a key factor. When a car accident victim sustains severe injuries that require ongoing medical treatment, settlement offers often include an estimate of the injured party’s anticipated future medical costs. This can be extremely problematic because an injured party who accepts a settlement offer before their injuries are fully treated may find that their medical bills eventually exceed their settlement. Therefore, injured parties generally want to refrain from accepting a settlement offer until they are done being treated, or until doctors are able to accurately predict which medical treatments they will need in the future. Therefore, experienced personal injury attorneys generally do not recommend that their clients accept a settlement offer before their injuries have “matured” or have reached “maximum medical improvement”, even though this can sometimes take months.
  • Preexisting Injuries: Car accident victims who have preexisting injuries may need to wait longer for their settlements because insurance companies often try to avoid paying by arguing that an injury was not caused by the crash, but rather was a preexisting condition. If this is the case, then the injured party will likely have to spend additional time gathering evidence and arguing that they did not have a preexisting injury, or that the car accident aggravated or worsened a preexisting injury.
  • Strength of the Evidence: The strength of the evidence available in a particular car accident injury claim can greatly impact the speed with which a settlement is reached. Strong clear cut evidence tends to lead to quick settlements, while weak evidence often leads to prolonged negotiations. For example, if the evidence strongly suggests that a particular driver was liable for the accident then the parties involved will not need to spend much time debating liability. Additionally, if the injured party’s losses are well documented then it will be easier for the parties to agree how much money the proposed settlement should contain. On the flip side, if parties have to spend a lot of time debating liability and damages then the it will take much longer to reach a settlement.
  • Who You are Negotiating With: Believe it or not, which insurance company you are dealing with can also greatly impact how long it will take to get your settlement. Some insurance companies are known for being hard to work with, while others have a reputation for making reasonable settlement offers quickly.

Need Legal Advice?

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in South Carolina and would like to discuss your legal options with an experienced accident attorney contact the Joye Law Firm to schedule a no cost no obligation consultation. Our firm has years of experience negotiating favorable car accident settlements for our clients and would be happy to assist you. Call us today at (877) 936-9709.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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