You have been injured in a car accident, and your losses are more than you can afford. You are in pain, you aren’t sure when (or if) your pain will ever fully go away, and you need to stand up for your legal rights. But, you have some concerns. Among them, how long will it take to collect the compensation you deserve? Will it be worth it to put yourself through the process. And, if so, what do you need to do in order to make the process as quick and stress-free as possible?
We’ll start by saying that there is no single “right” answer to any of these questions. Every car accident claim is different, the insurance companies handle claims differently, and some accident victims suffer more significant injuries than others.
In some cases there will be clear evidence of liability and the insurance companies will realize that it is in their best interests to efficiently negotiate a fair settlement. In others, the evidence will be less clear (or certain key pieces of evidence may have disappeared), and the insurance companies will use every trick in the book to try to avoid paying just compensation.
How Long Does It Take to Negotiate a Car Accident Insurance Settlement?
There are some general considerations that can be used to assess how long any particular claim is likely to take. First, we’ll talk about cases that are resolved via settlement.
Most car accident insurance claims – in fact the substantial majority of car accident insurance claims – settle out of court. By definition, settling is quicker than winning a verdict at trial, but how much quicker depends heavily on the particular facts and circumstances involved.
In most cases, the question is not “Can you settle quickly?” Instead, it is “Should you settle quickly?”
As the claimant, it is always up to you when to resolve your case. If you file a claim and the insurance company offers a settlement upfront (which often happens when a claim appears to be substantial), you certainly can settle and walk away.
But should you settle at this early stage? Probably not. If an insurance company offers a quick settlement, this almost invariably means that the insurance company believes you are entitled to more. Its representatives are trying to get you to resolve your claim (and waive your rights) before you discover the true cost of your injuries.
When there is clear evidence of liability and negotiating a fair settlement is a matter of convincing the insurance company to pay a “just” amount, it will often be possible to negotiate a favorable settlement in a matter of months. However, no outcome is guaranteed, and you should be prepared for your case to take longer if necessary.
How Long Will Your Case Take If You Have to Go to Trial?
If you do not receive a fair settlement offer, then you will need to go to trial in order to recover just compensation. Car accident cases that go to trial in Southern California can easily take a year or longer. Once again, however, there is no set timeline. Instead, the amount of time it takes to successfully assert your legal rights will depend on factors ranging from the court’s docket to the amount of effort the insurance company puts into the pre-trial litigation process.
5 Factors That Can Influence the Duration of a Car Accident Claim
In addition to these types of factors that are beyond your control, as a car accident victim, there are certain steps you can take to improve your chances of quickly securing a favorable settlement. For example, factors that you can control during your car accident insurance claim include:
- Seeking Medical Attention Promptly and Attending All Follow-Up Appointments – In order to protect your legal rights and present a compelling case for damages, you need to seek medical attention promptly. Follow your doctor’s advice to the letter (unless you think you need a second opinion), and attend all follow-up appointments without exception.
- Collecting and Preserving Key Evidence – Any evidence you have in your possession could prove critical to your insurance claim. This includes not only things like photos and medical records, but also your notes about the accident and the effects of your injuries.
- Choosing an Experienced Local Car Accident Attorney – In order to negotiate for maximum compensation, you will need an experienced attorney on your side. It is also important to choose a local attorney who is familiar with the area where your accident occurred.
- Engaging an Attorney Promptly – Once you find an attorney who seems like a good fit, you should schedule a free initial consultation promptly. Your attorney will need to conduct an investigation to collect additional evidence, and he or she will need to begin dealing with the insurance companies right away.
- Playing an Active Role in Your Case – Finally, the more you do to help with your claim, the quicker the process is likely to go. Among other things, this means following through with your medical care, communicating with your attorney regularly, and making sure you have a clear understanding of what constitutes just compensation in your case.
Get Started with a Free Consultation in Bakersfield
The sooner you get started with your claim, the sooner it will get resolved. To speak with an experienced car accident attorney in Bakersfield, call the Law Offices of Mickey Fine at 661-333-3333 or request a free consultation online now.