How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take

You’ve been in a car accident and just want to move on from this stressful life event. But the insurance companies seem to be dragging their feet. Why is your claim taking so long to settle? Several factors may be affecting the timeline.

Therefore, you need to understand what’s within your control and what’s out of your hands to help expedite the process. The accident’s severity, the insurance companies involved, the location of the crash, and the clarity of fault all affect how quickly you receive a fair settlement.

While you can’t control insurance companies, you can work to establish fault and gather thorough evidence for your personal injury claim. The more prepared and organized you are, the faster the insurers can evaluate your claim and compensate you.

That way, you can also get back to your normal routine. Staying on top of the details will help settle your claim more quickly. Ensuring you receive just compensation for your car accident claim is paramount. In this situation, exercising patience is crucial. Reach out to a Bakersfield car accident attorney without delay.

What Is a Car Accident Settlement?

A car accident settlement is an agreement between the parties involved in an accident to resolve any claims arising from the incident. Typically, settlements are negotiated between the insurance companies representing the drivers.

However, attorneys may get involved to help determine fault and ensure their clients receive fair compensation. Their contributions increase settlement rates and successful outcomes.

What affects the timeline?

What affects the timeline in Car Accident Settlement

Several factors can determine how long it will take to settle your car accident claim:

  • Severity of injuries. More severe injuries, especially those requiring extensive medical treatment, naturally take longer to assess and quantify damages, which lengthens the settlement process.
  • Determining fault. Investigations can determine the liable party (or parties) if fault is disputed or unclear. This fact-finding process expands the timeline. (Statistics attribute most accidents to the driver, with a very small percentage of crashes resulting from environmental conditions or the vehicle itself.)
  • Negotiation. The back-and-forth discussions between insurance companies may extend the time to reach a resolution. More complex cases with higher damages generally involve lengthier negotiations.
  • Litigation. If a settlement is not possible through negotiation, you may have to take your case to court. Lawsuits and trials can drag on for months or even years. Most parties try to avoid litigation due to the time, expense, stress, and uncertainties involved.
  • Documentation. Collecting records like medical bills, car repair estimates, photos, police reports, and witness statements takes time. The more documentation required to value your claim, the longer it takes to settle.

Therefore, the timeline for a settlement does not follow a template. You have to understand what factors accelerate a claim’s settlement and the factors that can slow it down.

Factors That Can Speed Up Your Settlement

As a plaintiff in a car accident claim, you probably want to know how to speed up your settlement so you can move on from this bad experience. You do have it in your control to expedite the process, given you follow the tips below.

Provide documentation promptly

The sooner you can provide police reports, medical records, repair estimates, and other evidence to support your claim, the faster your attorney can determine liability and the value of your damages. Delaying this critical information slows down your case.

Be flexible in negotiations

Although you deserve fair compensation, remain open to reasonable settlement offers. An unyielding stance can drag out negotiations and delay resolution. Your attorney can advise you on an appropriate settlement range based on the specifics of your situation.

Keeping communications open

Respond quickly to requests from your insurance company or attorney for information or documents. The more responsive you are, the quicker your claim will progress.

Ask questions if there are some points you don’t fully understand. Clear communications speed up the timeline.

Follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan

The settlement value of your claim depends partly on the extent of your injuries and the projected recovery period.

By diligently following your doctor’s orders, you can achieve maximum medical improvement (MMI) faster, allowing your attorney to assess the compensation you need more accurately. Non-compliance may reduce your settlement amount and prolong the process.

Factors That Can Slow Down Your Settlement

Several factors can slow down the settlement of your car accident claim, thereby drawing out the process. Be prepared for some waiting, but know that you have some control over moving things along.

The extent of your injuries

The severity and complexity of injuries sustained in the accident are major contributors to the timeline. More serious or permanent injuries typically require extensive treatment and documentation, which also takes time.

Your doctors and therapists may need extra time to assess and treat your conditions before determining a final prognosis.

Disputes during the process

When the at-fault party’s insurance company disputes who’s liable for the accident or the extent of your injuries, it leads to delays. For instance, they may argue that their policyholder was not entirely at fault. Again, be prepared to provide police reports, witness statements, photos, and other evidence to support your claim.


Lack of cooperation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company can also stall the process. The other side may not provide certain documents or do so slowly. An attorney can move them along so they’ll comply and cooperate.

Legal review of the case

If you hire an attorney to represent you, it may take extra time for your attorney to review your case and collect evidence to build a stronger claim on your behalf. However, this is necessary to receive fair compensation, especially in severe, complex cases.

Remember, patience, persistence, and cooperativeness pay off when you seek to settle a legal claim of personal injury.

How the Type of Injury Impacts Settlement Time

The severity and type of injuries you sustain in an accident directly impact the time it will take to settle your claim. As noted, more serious injuries typically require more time to properly diagnose, treat, and determine the full extent of damages.

Soft tissue injuries

A claim may take longer to settle if you suffer sprains, strains, or whiplash. These injuries can take time to heal, and treatment may involve physical therapy, chiropractic care, or other therapies before the full cost is totally known. Therefore, your injuries should stabilize before negotiating a settlement.

Broken bones

Car Accident Settlement I Broken Bones

Settlement of a claim involving fractures can take some time as well. Broken bones require time to heal and may possibly require surgery and physical therapy. Moreover, it may take months to determine if the injury will have any permanent effects. Your attorney will push for the highest possible settlement to account for all current and future costs related to your injury.

Head injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or concussions often take a very long time to mend. That’s because the long-term effects of head injuries may not be immediately apparent. Therefore, extra time is needed to properly assess the severity and determine a treatment plan.

Therapy frequently includes extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Your attorney will hold out for maximum compensation, as the possibility of permanent impairment or disability may factor into the costs of the settlement amount.

Internal injuries

Internal injuries, like damage to organs, tissues, or blood vessels, can also lengthen the settlement timeline. Diagnosing the extent of internal injuries often requires multiple tests, scans, and follow-up visits to specialists.

Treatment may involve hospitalization, surgery, and medication. Your attorney will pursue a settlement that accounts for all medical expenses and the pain and suffering related to the injuries. Vehicle weight and a car’s restraint system often fit into the types of internal injuries received.

While waiting is frustrating, a hastily settled claim may not fully compensate you for the harm you have suffered nor the steps you need to take in your rehabilitation.

Trust in your attorney’s efforts. They want the best possible outcome for your case and will work diligently to achieve fair and reasonable compensation.

How Liability Affects Your Timeline

Once you’ve filed an insurance claim after a car accident, the timeline for a resolution depends on who’s at fault. If the other driver is clearly liable for the collision, their insurance company will likely settle the claim faster. However, if the fault is disputed or shared, it can drag out the timeline.

As the plaintiff, you must build a solid case to prove the other driver’s liability. The more persuasive your evidence, the faster the insurance company will accept responsibility.

If the insurance company denies your claim or offers an unfair settlement, you may need to pursue legal action. Hiring a car accident attorney puts pressure on the insurance company and can motivate them to settle rather than face the risk of losing in court.

When multiple parties share the fault in a car accident case, claims become more complex to resolve. Each insurance company will try to minimize liability, which can delay the settlement process. In these situations, legal counsel is especially needed to establish fair percentages of fault and push the companies toward a resolution.

The location of the accident and specific laws there also play a role in reaching an award. For example, no-fault states have different procedures that can impact timeframes. The type of insurance coverage – liability only or full coverage – each driver carries affects the settlement options.

Remember, haste makes waste. If you work with a car accident attorney, you can build a stronger case, and the time spent will pay off.

The Role of Insurance Companies in Slow Claims Processing and Delays

The insurance companies involved in your claim can significantly impact how quickly you receive a settlement. Their practices, policies, and priorities can delay the process.

Lengthy Investigations

The Role of Insurance Companies in Slow Claims Processing and Delays

The at-fault driver’s insurance company will conduct a lengthy investigation to determine fault and liability. They will interview drivers, inspect vehicles, review police reports, and evaluate medical records.

Therefore, all of this takes time and can prolong the settlement timeline. Don’t be surprised if an insurance company denies your initial claim or makes a very low offer. For example, they may lower the offer in hopes you’ll want to settle quickly. Don’t accept an unfair settlement. Stand firm and work with an attorney.

Strict Settlement Evaluation Policies

Most major insurers follow a strict settlement evaluation formula to determine an offer amount. They consider medical bills, lost income, property damage, and future costs.

If they believe a claim is worth less than a certain threshold, they may deny it outright. Push back by providing documentation from doctors, employers, and other sources to demonstrate the full impact of your injuries. Don’t give in to this tactic.

Prioritizing the Bottom Line

Insurance companies are primarily concerned with their profits. They want to settle claims for as little as possible, even if it means delaying the process or denying valid claims.

Don’t expect compassion from the insurer—you need to advocate strongly for yourself and work with an attorney to get the maximum settlement you deserve in a timely manner.

Insurance companies’ actions (or inactions) can significantly stretch out the settlement of your claim. Stay persistent, provide ample evidence to support your damages, and don’t back down easily from unfair denials or low-ball offers.

Responsiveness and Organization are Key

Once more, provide any evidence and records your insurance company or attorney requested immediately. Stay actively involved in your claim and follow up regularly on its status.

Keep records of medical expenses, missed work, and other financial losses. Make sure they’re organized and up to date. The more prepared and cooperative you are, the better your chances of getting a timely resolution.

Why and When to Involve a Car Accident Lawyer

Why and When to Involve a Car Accident Lawyer

At some point after a car accident, you’ll need to determine if you should hire an attorney to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages. While you can negotiate with insurance companies yourself, car accident lawyers have the experience to handle these complex claims. They have the know-how needed for negotiation and arguing on a claimant’s behalf.

When the Insurance Company Denies Your Claim: What to Expect

If the insurance company denies your claim or makes an unreasonably low settlement offer, it’s time to call in legal reinforcements. An attorney has the resources and knows all aspects of state law regarding negligence. With this type of legal arsenal available to them, they can build a compelling case.

When Your Injuries are Severe

For serious or catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord damage, or permanent disabilities, you should hire an attorney immediately. Severe, long-term injuries often require extensive and expensive medical care and rehabilitation.

An attorney will calculate current and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and negotiate the maximum settlement for your situation.

When Multiple Parties are Involved

Accidents involving multiple vehicles or parties quickly become confusing if a lawyer does not oversee them. There may be disputes over who’s at fault and which insurance companies should pay.

An attorney will thoroughly investigate liability and deal with all the insurance companies and parties involved to ensure you receive fair compensation.

If You’re Uncertain About Your Rights

If you’re hesitant about your legal rights or options after an accident, it’s best to consult an attorney. They will review the details of your accident, determine if you have grounds for a personal injury claim, and advise you on the proper steps to take. An initial consultation is often free, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

Car Accident Lawyer, Mickey Fine

Mickey Fine, Car Accident Attorney

You deserve to receive fair compensation for your car accident claim. In this case, patience is a virtue. Contact a personal injury lawyer now.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on