Every car accident and injury claim is different. The timeframe for a case to reach a conclusion can be anywhere from several months to several years. Insurance companies use a strategy called “delay, deny, defend” along with other tricks that can prolong resolution.
What makes my car accident case take longer?
There are three main factors in most cases that will determine how long things take:
- Disputes about the law or the facts of the case
- The amount of money involved
- Extent of injuries
Legal or Factual Issues. The first thing that is almost always analyzed is who was at fault? This is called the at-fault party and determines who was liable. If liability is hard to prove or is contested, then the insurance company may deny the claim or make a lowball offer. If you hire a San Diego car accident lawyer, this is something they would help you decide: to accept or not accept the offer and move forward with a lawsuit.
If liability is clear (like in a rear-end accident), then it’s possible the insurance company will dispute the amount of damages you’re claiming. Examples include:
- Amount of missed time from work isn’t justified based on the injuries
- The injuries aren’t related to the accident (causation)
- Medical care exceeded the necessary amount for the injury (this is referred to as “over-treatment)
- The amount of pain and suffering demanded isn’t equal to the injuries sustained
There are many different examples than the above. Insurance companies are in business to make money. The way they do this is by paying claims less than they’re worth by lowballing, denying, or fighting them. These are just a few.
Amount of Money Involved. If the injuries are serious, insurance companies will do extensive due diligence before making payment. This means they will make sure the insured party is at fault and the damages are related to the accident.
Due diligence is a fancy way of saying “research.” Insurance companies will be very thorough when it comes to assessing cases. Medical records, bills, car repairs, doctor’s notes, and notes from your employer are just a few of the things they will request and review.
One trick insurance companies will use is the “recorded statement.” This is usually done immediately following an accident before the injured victim hires a lawyer. The purpose is to lock people into a story so that they can’t change things down the road. While it may seem harmless at first because they should get the facts straight, adjusters are trained to ask questions that can hurt your claim. Even answers you may think are fine can be troublesome down the road.
Extent of Injuries. If the injuries are more serious, then typically a claim will take much longer. If you’re not represented by a lawyer, settling a case without knowing how injured you are can have devastating lasting impacts. This is why we recommend seeking immediate medical attention after a car accident.
Once a settlement is reached, the injured party signs a “release.” This means they are accepting payment for all claims related to the accident, even if they don’t know how injured they are. Making sure to be fully evaluated for injuries is a critical step before accepting any settlement. Sometimes it can take weeks or months for an injury to manifest.
How long will it take to get the settlement check?
Once a case is settled, it can take four to six weeks to complete the settlement process. Like all claims, this will vary on a case by case basis.
The first step will be accepting the amount the insurance company offers. From there you will sign the release. This says you’re giving up the right to sue the person, persona, or company responsible for your injuries. Upon signing the release, the insurance company will send a check for the agreed-upon amount in exchange for the release.
This is why we stress medical treatment. Once the release is signed, there is no turning back and trying to sue for more damages or injuries.
If you’re represented by a lawyer, the settlement check will likely be sent to their office and deposited into their trust account. They will pay any liens placed on the settlement funds (medical bills, ambulance, etc.). Attorney’s fees,out of pocket expenses (costs such as filing fees, obtaining medical records, deposition transcripts, doctor’s reports) and other costs will be deducted. After all deductions are made, the remaining balance will be sent to the client.
San Diego Car Accident Lawyer
My name is Daniel Hanecak and I am a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer. I know from personal experience how stressful and time consuming a car accident can be. When you call Hanecak Law Inc., you will speak with me directly. It is my aim to provide you with free and friendly advice. Call me today at (858) 206-4326 for a free case evaluation.