How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take to Settle?

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Many questions arise after any car accident, and an injured victim will likely wonder how long it will take to receive the compensation he or she deserves from an insurance claim. Several factors can influence a car accident claim’s timetable, and the liability isn’t always clear. It’s a good idea to know what to expect from filing a car accident claim and the factors that may delay your settlement. Questionable liability, the value of a claim, and the type of claim involved can all influence how long it takes for a claimant to receive a settlement so it is always a good idea to speak with a skilled Long Beach car accident lawyer.

Determining Liability

Depending on how your car accident occurred, you may need to file a claim against an at-fault driver’s insurance policy or your own. In either case, you will need extensive documentation and evidence to prove the extent of your losses. An at-fault driver’s insurance policy may only cover up to a certain amount, so it’s crucial to have a firm understanding of your damages before accepting any insurance settlement offer. If there is no dispute over liability for the accident or the at-fault driver does not contest liability, then the settlement may happen sooner rather than later. However, an at-fault driver may contest liability or argue that the claimant shares fault for the incident.

State liability laws may come into play and delay a claim as well. For example, in a comparative negligence state, a plaintiff may still recover damages if he or she is partially at fault for the incident in question so long as the plaintiff’s fault does not exceed the defendant’s. In states with contributory negligence laws, the plaintiff would be ineligible for recovery if he or she was even slightly at fault for the incident.

Claim Types

Different claim types are more complex than others and may delay a settlement. For example, an insurance policy may have a clear explanation of the amount of property damage it will cover, and property damage is relatively easy to prove. However, if the car accident claim involves bodily injury or death, this type of claim will take longer to process. The claimant should undergo an extensive medical examination to fully assess his or her condition and future medical concerns before accepting any offer.

In the early stages of an injury, the victim’s doctor may not be able to fully assess the extent of the damage for quite some time. Lab tests, specialist examinations, and rehabilitation can take weeks or even months in some cases. Insurance companies heavily scrutinize bodily injury claims, so they will want to see extensive documentation that clearly outlines the claimant’s medical condition and prognosis.

More extensive injuries will also be more expensive to treat, and the claimant must have a firm understanding of the full scope of his or her injuries before accepting any settlement offer. For example, an initial offer may appear to fully satisfy the claimant’s damages, only for the claimant to discover months later that the incident caused a long-term medical complication. Plaintiffs must be thorough in preparing their claims, and this takes time.

Ultimately, the types of damages involved in a car accident claim determine how long it will take to reach a conclusion. Property damage claims generally move faster than bodily injury or wrongful death claims, and the plaintiff may decide to pursue alternative actions if the insurance company denies a claim or doesn’t offer a fair settlement. If insurance settlement negotiations prove fruitless, the plaintiff can move to settlement negotiations or pursue a judgment through a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party. A Long Beach personal injury attorney can help an injured driver determine his or her best options following any type of accident, handle insurance concerns, and build a civil lawsuit against an at-fault driver if necessary.