Everyone wants justice now and they want it fast. But no one ever said the road to justice is a toll road. Recovering financial compensation damages caused by a car accident is often a difficult and long process that can take a few weeks up to several years depending on the injuries, the issues surrounding the case, and the number of parties involved.
This article provides a brief overview of determining factors that impact the time frame of a car accident settlement. Please be advised: the information contained in this article does not replace the expertise that only an experienced car accident lawyer can offer.
For the best estimate of how long a car accident settlement takes, be sure to consult a personal injury attorney with the necessary experience in handling car accidents.
Decide on an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit
The journey to a car accident settlement begins long before filing a claim or a lawsuit. Before you can begin to think about how long a settlement takes, you should become familiar with the difference between a claim and a personal injury lawsuit.
A good rule of thumb to remember is:
- A claim is typically filed with an insurance company
- Personal injury lawsuits or complaints are filed with the court of jurisdiction
A settlement can take place whether a claim is filed or a lawsuit is filed. The parties of a personal injury case may even reach a settlement before going to trial.
Filing an insurance claim without the representation of an experienced car accident attorney can be the difference between walking away with the maximum settlement, or allowing the insurance company to pay less than it should have.
It’s important to note that an insurance adjuster always acts in the best interest of the insurance company, not you as the policyholder.
The six stages of a car accident settlement
Stage 1: Collecting information after the car crash
Day 1 after being injured, a victim should gather information.
This means taking photos or video at the scene of the accident, exchanging contact and insurance policy information with other drivers, and taking note of the make, model, and license plate numbers of vehicles.
Additionally, make sure to observe the weather conditions and the time of day.
Stage 2: Filing the accident report
Texas Transportation Code Section 550.062 requires investigating officers of motor vehicle accidents involving property damage, personal injury, or death to file a written report with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) within 10 days.
Stage 3: Seeking medical treatment
According to TxDOT Crash Facts, 1 person was injured every 2 minutes, 3 seconds in 2019.
When a car accident happens, emergency patient transport services such as an ambulance arrive on the scene to transfer the injured party to the nearest emergency room.
Even if an ambulance service is not needed, you should still see a medical professional for evaluation.
Because some injuries are hidden at the time of the accident and don’t appear until much later, your medical records from a visit to the physician after the accident will provide strong evidence in calculating how much financial compensation you can recover.
Stage 4: Preparing the complaint
If you’re taking the lawsuit route and decide to serve the other driver with a summons, a list of your claims, and requests for relief, you must allow up to 20 days for the defendant to file what’s called an answer.
Here is where the waiting game starts.
Performing “discovery” is a research and fact-finding process that involves asking questions, obtaining records, and taking depositions and witness statements.
Discovery usually is the longest part of reaching a settlement and it can take from three to six months to complete.
Stage 6: Mediation and negotiations
Meeting with the insurance company and defendant representatives to reach an agreement is typically the final stage of a car accident claim.
Sometimes the case settles and sometimes it ends up going to trial.
Your injury attorney will work to create a winning strategy for mediation and negotiation to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Attempting to do this on your own can have negative consequences.
For example, you may not be offered the maximum damages you deserve. A Corpus Christi car accident lawyer can help you level the playing field.
Settle your case as quickly as possible while pursuing the best outcome
Now that you understand why reaching a settlement in a car accident case can range from a few weeks to a few years, you can reach your settlement the right way with a knowledgeable injury attorney by your side.
When you need assistance settling your car accident case, contact a Corpus Christi car accident attorney at The Burkett Law Firm. We’ll walk you through every step of the process and ensure the process moves along in a reasonable amount of time. Call us today for a free consultation at (361) 882-8822.