The Timeline Of A Car Accident Settlement

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The Balance

Accident victims often wonder how long the legal process is going to take. When doctor bills are due and your vehicle needs to be repaired, it is completely normal to want to rush the claims process.

Some cases seem cut-and-dry at first glance. Consider that distracted driving is the cause of many wrecks and a driver speaking on a cell phone, for example, increases the chance of getting into a crash by 400%. This sounds like an easy case to prove, so you may assume the insurance company’s first settlement offer is a fair one. But that’s rarely true.

Adjusters work for the insurance provider and therefore, try to pay out as little as possible. Make sure you’re treated fairly by following certain steps. While there is no standard timeline for settling claims, the following schedule of events is typical.

Immediate Actions to Take Following a Wreck

You’ll help yourself greatly by following these steps promptly after an accident:

  • Get the other driver’s name and contact information
  • Make note of damage to all vehicles that were involved
  • Take down the location and date
  • Use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene
  • Call the police
  • Look for witnesses and get their contact information
  • Find any outdoor cameras around the accident site, which can provide recorded evidence

The very first thing you will do, of course, is attend to your own medical needs, and count your blessings. Considering that about 38,000 people die each year in wrecks, you should feel fortunate if you have not been seriously hurt.

Follow-Up Steps

In the days after the accident, once your immediate medical needs are met and evidence collection is complete, it is time to talk to the insurance company. Don’t let more than 72 hours pass before you contact the at-fault driver’s insurer. Many insurance companies require claimants to provide notification of the accident within a certain timeframe or will deny coverage.

When your phone rings during this time, you may want to let it go to voicemail because it may be an insurance company representative trying to get a statement from you. Do you need to hire a car accident lawyer in case this happens? We strongly suggest that you do, to help you with the step by step process. It is highly advised that you avoid speaking to adjusters or insurers until after you have hired an attorney that can speak on your behalf.

This leads to the next step of selecting a car accident lawyer. It may take a lawyer a couple of days to review all of the evidence and decide whether or not to accept your case, so try to be in touch with a legal professional that can help you as soon as humanly possible.

One Month After Filing Your Claim

The timeline of a car accident claim is somewhat predictable, and the insurance company should get back to you within 30 days after you file a claim. While insurers generally aim for a one-month maximum response time, there are occasions when adjusters need extra time for review.

In these situations, you’ll receive a letter by mail with an explanation and request for more time. It is noteworthy that settlements are normally reached during these 30 days, and if your attorney is able to reach an agreement, you could receive a check in the mail.

Long-Term Expectations

Some car accident lawsuits take longer than a year to resolve. Discovery, mediation, pretrial negotiations, arbitration, and depositions may slow down the process. While it’s true that most will be resolved during early negotiations, sometimes a lawyer will decide to take a complex case before a judge to ensure fair and equitable results.