how long does a car accident settlement take

How Long Does A Car Accident Settlement Take?

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 6 minutes

How Long Does A Car Accident Settlement Take?

Injured in a car accident? Chances are that you’re thinking: “How long does a car accident settlement take?” The length of time for a settlement to be negotiated (and paid out) can vary quite a bit from case-to-case, and can even have an impact on your legal strategy. As such, it’s important to understand the factors that are involved.

Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding the extent of a car accident settlement negotiation

How long does a car accident settlement take? This depends on a lot of dispute-related factors. These factors include:

  • Hostility of the defendant
  • Whether the defendant is concerned about avoiding negative publicity
  • How serious your injuries are
  • How high the damages claim is
  • Whether you have strong evidence to establish liability
  • And more

For example, if the defendant is hostile and unwilling to negotiate, then you can’t count on the car accident settlement being resolved in a short time. It will take much longer, and the case may even continue on to trial litigation.

Disputes can be settled in less than a week, with some taking as long as a year or more. So don’t assume too much about your case. Work with your attorney to explore your strategic options, and be flexible enough to accept the possibility that your case may need some more time to fully resolve.

Settlements — a quick introduction

The large majority of car accident disputes end in a negotiated settlement — in fact, industry observers estimate that more than 95 percent of cases are resolved through a settlement. But why?

To understand why, you have to understand the negative aspects of traditional litigation. These include:

  • Litigation is costly, from a time, resource, and effort perspective
  • Litigation outcomes always have a level of uncertainty
  • Extended litigation can be exhausting and disruptive to lives of those involved
  • Litigation is public, which can creative negative publicity for those involved
  • And more

Parties often try to negotiate a settlement to provide some certainty and avoid the negative aspects of traditional litigation. A properly-negotiated settlement is a win-win for the parties involved.

How do you calculate the settlement amount for a claim?

Settlement offers are not only linked to the overall damages amount in a particular case, but how likely it is that: a) you’d be able to prove liability if the case were to go to trial, and b) you’d be able to secure the full damages pay out if the case were to go to trial. As a general rule, the stronger and more persuasive your legal claims/evidence, the better your settlement offers will be.

Let’s use an example for clarity.

Suppose that you are injured in a car accident, and your damages total $100,000. You are negotiating a settlement with the defendant. They concede that you will be able to prove their liability if the case were to proceed to trial. In other words, you have a 100 percent chance to win the case.

However, their issue is that they do not agree with your damages claim. They believe your damages hover around $50,000, more realistically, and that there is a 50 percent chance that the court will agree with them. The settlement offer is therefore likely to be somewhere in the middle: around $75,000. That would generally be considered fair by both parties.

How often do insurance companies deny claims?

Denial rates vary from insurer-to-insurer, and based on the particular type of claim. That being said, industry observers have found that denial rates can go well over 50 percent at the high end. This shows just how much of a challenge it can be to secure the pay out that you deserve as a claimant.

Why do insurers deny claims so often?

Many people may not be aware of the fact that insurance companies don’t always have your best interests in mind when it comes to settling claims. They earn better profit margins when you get paid less. So they are incentivized to deny your claim, and if you don’t appeal the denial (or otherwise resign yourself to the decision), then they’ve just made a great deal of money off of you.

It’s up to you to work with an attorney and submit a well-supported insurance claim. If the insurer decides to deny or lowball your claim, then you can work with your attorney to circumvent their decision through various other strategic paths.

Why do insurance companies take so long to pay out?

Insurers may take so long to pay out because it’s in their best interest to make the entire process difficult for you (the claimant). Insurers profit when they are able to deny otherwise legitimate claims, or underpay a legitimate claim. Whenever a claimant withdraws, the insurance company benefits. So if the process for securing a pay out is difficult and frustrating, and you — the claimant — decide to withdraw, or perhaps are so exhausted by the process that you accept their lowball pay out, then the insurance company “wins” from a profitability perspective.

Remember, insurers are not your allies. Their goals are directly in opposition to yours as the claimant. Naturally, they want to pay you as little as possible. And they will engage any (legally allowable) strategy to do so.

What to do if an insurance claim is delayed?

If the insurance claim is delayed to an “unreasonable” extent, then you could potentially sue your insurer for bad faith. In other words, you’d be suing your insurer on the basis that they are delaying the claim to such an extent that they have violated the contractual bargain they agreed to when you signed onto the insurance policy. This would operate as an independent claim, and would therefore be strategically useful, as you would gain access to another source for damages — making it easier to secure a larger payout overall.

Bringing a bad faith insurance claim isn’t as straightforward as one might think. There are many complex issues that can arise. As such, it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney about how best to approach the dispute.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you’re probably wondering: “How long does a car accident settlement take?” After all, as you recover from your injuries, your life could be significantly impacted — from wage loss to medical expenses, and more. It can be useful to know what timelines to expect as you move forward with your claims.

Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 to get connected to an attorney in our network in just 10 minutes. They will be able to provide you a free consultation, during which your claims will be evaluated and guidance on next steps given. There’s no obligation to continue with the attorney if you decide against it, so there’s no downside! Call us today to get started.

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