In the event of a car accident, it can be a daunting challenge for victims to navigate the claims or lawsuit process. While some cases settle very quickly, others can entail months or even years of negotiation and litigation. To gauge how long the claims or lawsuit process will take, there are several factors to consider that can have a huge influence on the length of the case.
If you want to recover the total amount of compensation you may be eligible to receive following an accident, there are certain steps you will need to take. These steps can greatly affect the amount of time it takes to reach a favorable settlement. The following are some of the specific steps involved in these cases, but keep in mind that they won't necessarily occur in the order listed, depending on the nature of the case.
If your injuries aren't serious enough to warrant immediate medical attention, it's important to collect as much evidence and information as you can following an accident. The first items to look at include the other party's vehicle, including the license plate numbers, make, and model. It's also important to collect the names and contact details of each person involved in the accident, along with information about their insurance companies.
If you can, take photos or record video footage of all property damage and injuries, along with potential hazards that may have contributed to the accident. You can often collect all of this information from police reports, but it's also ideal to collect this evidence on your own if possible, as police reports aren't always entirely accurate or reliable.
Seeking Medical Attention for Injuries
Serious accidents tend to entail the dispatching of emergency response teams, who may transport victims to the emergency room for immediate medical treatment. Even if your injuries aren't serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room immediately following the accident, it's still in your best interest to see a physician soon after.
Many injuries that don't appear at first may develop symptoms later on, even weeks following an accident, so it's best to seek some medical attention and documentation, which can help you recover while providing you with documentation that may be used to build a case.
In some cases, physical injuries won't be the only type of pain and suffering that victims endure. In addition to or in lieu of physical trauma, some victims may experience mild to severe mental and emotional distress following the accident, in which cases victims may need to consult mental health professionals.
Filing a Car Accident Claim
Oftentimes, the next step in an accident case will involve filing a claim with the at-fault party's insurer to reach an agreeable settlement. This process may entail negotiating with multiple companies if more than one at-fault driver was involved.
If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, or left the scene and remains unidentified, you will be required to file a claim with your own insurance company, if possible, under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Finding a Dependable Accident Attorney
If the at-fault driver's insurer approves your claim and pays out a fair settlement quickly, you won't likely need to wait any longer to receive compensation. However, this scenario is rare, and in most cases you will wind up receiving a low settlement offer at first, or the insurance company may not approve your claim.
Regardless of the circumstances, consult with SettleForFree to learn about your options when it comes to filing a claim and negotiating the settlement. You can research other attorneys in your area and seek a free consultation to determine which attorney is a good fit for you, but remember other attorneys will charge you 30-40% contingency fee plus costs.
SettleForFree will be able to evaluate your case and determine how much compensation you are eligible to recover, followed by giving you advice on how to proceed. All for free!
Reaching a Settlement with Insurance Adjusters
The longest process in many accident cases is negotiating with insurance adjusters. Insurance companies aren't on the claimant's side in any case and some will try to reach a quick, low offer in the hopes that you will accept it. However, this low amount should only serve as a starting point from which you should negotiate for a better settlement based on what you deserve.
To help expedite the process while ensuring that a favorable settlement is reached, it's best to work with one of our attorneys who can communicate with the insurer on your behalf. Our attorney can significantly simplify the process for you while helping you reach the best possible outcome.
Filing a Lawsuit if a Settlement Isn't Reached
Some accident cases won't end with negotiations between claimants and insurance carriers. Instead, they may go to trial, where the defense may attempt to deny liability or claim that your case is worth less than you would like to receive. Throughout the trial process, both plaintiffs and defendants need to present their evidence, and attorneys will need to gather and question witnesses.
Normally, at the end of the trial process, a jury will make a final verdict. If the outcome is in your favor, you will be able to collect compensation from the defendant or the insurers involved.
Why the Process Can Take Much Longer Than Anticipated
In addition to the steps involved in car accident cases, myriad other factors could further prolong the case at any point during the claims or lawsuit process. These potential factors could include:
• Serious injuries that extend the recovery process, accumulate medical expenses over longer periods of time, and lead to less easily quantifiable pain and suffering.
• Insurance companies denying liability, which can take the case to trial and subsequently increase the amount of time it takes to settle.
• Liability may be less easily determined, which can require the involvement of experts such as accident reconstruction specialists to identify the specific cause of the accident.
• A lack of expert witnesses such as medical professionals who can provide credible statements to support the plaintiff.
• The involvement of multiplhttps://websites.godaddy.com/get-startede plaintiffs and defendants, which can make the process more complex and liability even more difficult to determine.
• Difficult defendants who delay the process by denying liability, providing false information, relocating to another state, or obstructing investigations.
• The amount of evidence, which may either be sufficient and help the claimant or be absent and hurt the case.
Each of these factors can severely impact the overall time it takes to reach a settlement, whether the case goes to trial or ends with initial negotiations.
Impact of COVID-19
Before the pandemic, trail dates could be set for 12 to 36 months out. Unfortunately, the courts were closed as a result of COVID-19 and thousands of cases are now backlogged in the court system. To make matters worse, priority will be given to criminal cases not civil cases (which includes personal injury cases). As a result, it might take 24 to 60 months before you have your day in court.
The content on this site is for informational purposes only and nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice.