How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

A settlement in a personal injury claim means dropping your personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, which is usually the insurance company representing the person who caused your injuries. It’s common to wonder how long a car accident settlement will take. Once you sign a settlement release, you cannot sue the defendant or take the case to trial. Your “settlement” can also refer to the monetary compensation you receive once you sign this settlement release.

After car accident victims have filed their personal injury claims, they often wonder when their settlement checks will be released. Most victims are anxious to pay mounting medical bills and other expenses related to the accident and their injuries.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to accept the first settlement an insurance company offers you. Consulting an attorney before negotiating with the insurance company can help you estimate a fair settlement amount that covers all expenses—present and future—that were caused by the accident. 

Additionally, accepting a settlement may not be the best course of action for every case. Sometimes, your potential compensation can be increased by pushing for a trial, and a car accident attorney is the best person to make this determination. 

Factors That Can Impact Your Timeline

The time it takes a car accident victim to receive a settlement check depends on the particulars of each case. An auto accident attorney can estimate how long your case might take and when to expect your settlement check, but here are some of the factors that impact the timeline.

Insurance Company Delays & Tactics

Insurance companies work to protect their own financial interests, not those of car accident victims, so they will try to pay as little as possible on claims. They can use delaying tactics and drawn-out negotiation processes to wear down injury victims and pressure them into accepting lower settlements. 

One common delaying tactic insurance companies use is asking for excessive or irrelevant documentation. They may also disagree with the extent of your injuries in order to extend the settlement timeline.

Disagreements Over Liability

If you’re involved in an accident where it’s very clear who the at-fault driver was, your accident claim could be resolved fairly quickly. But in most cases, determining who was at fault (liability) requires thorough investigations. Investigations involve police and attorneys gathering evidence, working with accident reconstructionists, and interviewing witnesses.

Conducting comprehensive investigations to establish fault is particularly important in states that follow the comparative negligence rule, where your settlement can be reduced according to your percentage of fault for the accident. These liability investigations can extend the car accident settlement process. In accidents where there are multiple parties, determining who is at fault and to what degree can make settlements take even longer. 

Additionally, insurance companies can contest, or reject, liability during the negotiation process to delay or deny your claim or reduce your settlement amount, which also extends negotiations and settlement processes.

Medical Treatment & Other Healthcare Needs

The medical care you need after a car accident affects the timeline of your settlement for several reasons. First, severe injuries require more treatment and documentation. Second, the more expensive medical bills they cause entitle victims to larger settlements. As a result, the insurance company will want to negotiate lower settlements with severely injured victims even more.

If a victim is severely injured, there needs to be an investigation into how those injuries will impact their quality of life and the expenses they will cause in the long run. Your auto accident lawyer will most likely advise you to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) or somewhere close to it before settling your case. When a doctor says you’ve reached MMI, this means that medical treatment has stabilized your condition to the point where it’s unlikely to significantly improve any further, even with additional treatment. 

Once you’ve reached MMI, you, your lawyer, and the insurance adjuster will be able to better understand the limitations your injuries have caused, the future medical care you may need, and any other ways your injuries will affect your life going forward. At this point, it will be easier to accurately calculate the cost of your future medical requirements, helping to make sure your settlement fully accounts for all expenses caused by your injuries. Depending on your injuries, you may reach MMI in days, weeks, or years, which greatly affects the length of your settlement. 

What Happens After You Sign a Settlement Release?

  1. After you sign the settlement release, it will be forwarded to the insurance company.
  2. Once processing is completed, the insurance company will close your claim and forward the check to your attorney.
  3. Your attorney will then place the proceeds into an escrow account. Any claim against your settlement will be paid out of your settlement. One example is medical liens.
    1. Liens are a third party’s legal right to appropriate a portion or the entirety of the settlement from the personal injury claim. Medical liens are when a healthcare provider can hold liens against the injured person’s pending injury claim, which are paid out to the provider for their services once the claim is settled.
  4. Your attorney’s fee will be deducted from the injury settlement amount, and a final check will be sent to you by your personal injury attorney. 

It takes about six weeks to receive a settlement check once the release is signed and the insurance company agrees to pay. If you have not received it after six weeks, you should contact your attorney and ask for an update.

Get Help from a Car Accident Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you were involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s in your best interest to seek legal advice from an experienced car accident attorney. An attorney can estimate a fair value for your case, hold at-fault drivers accountable, aggressively negotiate with insurance companies, and recover the compensation that you deserve.

At Esquire Law, our personal injury lawyers in Arizona specialize in auto accident cases. We work tirelessly to secure our victims’ maximum compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more, and we don’t charge any upfront fees. 

Contact us today for a free case evaluation. 

Car Accident Settlement FAQS

1. How Long Does It Take To Get Settlement Money From a Car Accident?

Once you submit the signed release form to the insurance company, you should receive your settlement money within four to six weeks. If you do not, you should contact your attorney for an update. 

2. What Damages Can I Recover After a Car Accident?

  • Wages lost due to time away from work
  • Hospital bills
  • Medical care in the future, including therapy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

3. What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?

  • Driving while distracted
  • Drunk motorists
  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Tailgating
  • Speeding
  • Ignoring traffic signs

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