How Long Can I Expect My Car Accident Claim to Take?
Ways the Auto Accident Claim Process Can Be Affected
Pretty much everyone who has been in a bad car accident that was not their fault has found themselves wondering shortly after the crash how long it is going to be until they get paid for all of their damages. No one wants to wait around for what feels like forever to get paid for the mistakes of someone else, after all. But when it comes to predicting how long a car accident claim will take to resolve, there is no definitive answer. There are many factors that can slow down or speed up the claim or lawsuit process, and each of these factors will be unique to your specific case.
Typical Car Accident Claim Process
The average car accident claim process will look like the following:
- Assess damages and liability: Before you can sue someone for compensation, you need to know how much compensation they owe you and whether or not they are even the correct party to sue. The first step in a claim is figuring out your damages and the liability of the other parties involved. A car accident attorney can be instrumental in making this first step much, much easier for you.
- File a claim: When your damages have been calculated and liability has been pinpointed, you will have to file a claim against the right party. Again, to make certain there are no holes in your claim that could be problematic later, it is advised you work with a lawyer.
- Respond to inquiries: The opposing insurance company is going to come back with some questions about your claim, assuming they do not outright deny it.
- Settlement negotiations: If your auto accident claim is like most, then it will end in a settlement after some negotiations. Settlements can wrap up in one session or several. There is also the chance that no settlement agreement will be reached, which takes your claim to the next step.
- Litigation: If the insurer does not want to settle your claim for a fair amount, then you will have to consider litigation with your attorney to get the compensation you deserve. Lawsuits involve many more steps, such as filing an initial petition, waiting for an answer, undergoing evidence discovery, and conducting a trial.
How Long the Average Car Accident Claim Can Take
Although there is no way to promise how long a car accident claim will take to conclude, it is possible to give a rough estimate. If a car accident claim is uncontested and a settlement seems highly likely, then it might take about 6 months for the claimant to receive compensation. If back-and-forth settlement negotiations are necessary, then it could take 9 months or more. If litigation becomes necessary, though, then the timeline can extend quite a bit, taking anywhere between 12 to 36 months to end.
Three Factors That Slow Down a Car Accident Claim
Ideally, your car accident claim will take as little time as possible to conclude because you deserve to start living a little more comfortably again. As mentioned, six months would be considered a pretty quick conclusion to a car accident claim. There are many factors that can slow down any of the steps, though.
Three of the most common reasons why car accident claims take longer are:
- Severe injuries: A catastrophic injury is difficult to fully assess until weeks or months have passed. Before that point, it will be unclear just how much the injury has affected you, your career, and your day-to-day life. If you have suffered a severe injury in a crash, then your attorney might advise you to wait longer than usual to file a claim so the extent of your injury can be better understood. Waiting for your doctor to determine you have reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI) before filing is often advised.
- Insurance company interference: Insurance companies like to advertise that they are incredibly friendly and caring, but they don’t say that they generally show a friendly face to their policyholders only. As someone filing against another insurance company, you shouldn’t expect red-carpet treatments. Commonly, insurers will use as much time as they are allotted to send responses, inquiries, etc. The hope is to get you, the claimant, to get impatient and either give up or accept a lowball settlement amount.
- Courtroom procedures: Insurance companies, claimants, and attorneys all tend to want to avoid the courtroom simply because it takes time – potentially lots of time. Just getting a court date to start a lawsuit or arrange a hearing can take weeks or months if the court is busy with other cases. The more times your case needs to go to court to advance, the longer things will take.
Is There a Way to Speed Up a Car Accident Claim?
You might not be able to “speed up” a car accident claim, exactly, but you can help prevent it from slowing down due to mistakes and complications. Hire a local car accident attorney to help you with your claim from the beginning and let them act on your behalf. Using their experience and insight, they can help keep things moving and address concerns as they arise, which likely would have caught you by surprise and added to otherwise avoidable delays.
If you live in and around Conroe, Texas, you can count on Scott Law Firm for reliable and effective legal guidance for your car accident claim. We are here to take the stress and busywork out of your claim by managing it for you. Call (936) 243-4299 or contact us online if you want to know more. Initial consultations are free and confidential.
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