What to Expect with your Car Accident AttorneyIf you have ever been in a minor fender bender, you know that settlements can go quickly. The body shop assesses the damage, reports it to the insurance company, it’s approved, and everything is settled up by the time your vehicle is done being repaired. Some accidents aren’t quite so simple; and you’re left wondering how long the car wreck settlement will take. Zach Herbert is a car accident attorney serving Texas and Oklahoma. Over the years, he has discovered that settlements can go relatively quickly, or drag out for well over a year. Fortunately, there are some factors we can look at that will often extend the settlement timeline so we know just what to expect.
Faster Car Wreck Settlements Still Take Weeks
Aside from the scenario above, when the only damage is economic and easily measured, don’t expect a settlement to be finalized in less than 4 or 5 weeks.
With a fairly simple settlement, there are still negotiations that will need to be done with the insurance company. Even when all of the facts are straightforward, there are no disputes as to who is at fault, medical bills and property damage are easily measured, the insurance company will still offer the lowest reasonable settlement. If you accept this settlement, you waive all rights to any recourse in the future. Because of this many people victims will enter into negotiations; either with the help of a car accident attorney or through your own negotiations that we outlined last week.
Many wrecks will actually take longer to settle.
Longer Car Wreck Settlements Take Months
If you are involved in a major car wreck, it is highly likely that it will take months from the time of the accident, until the settlement is finalized and closed. Here are a few of the factors that can cause a settlement to drag out longer.
Serious Injuries – If you have been in a car wreck, and you were injured, the settlement will take longer to finalize. The more serious those injuries, the longer it will take. Medical conditions aren’t one-size-fits-all. Some people heal quickly with few complications; others will take years of rehabilitation for the same injury. Until a physician has indicated that you have reached the maximum medical improvement, or the point where you’re not going to get any better, there’s no way to fully know how much the medical bills will cost.
Insurance Company’s Willingness to Settle – Insurance companies will range in their responsiveness. If you’re filing a car accident claim here in Texas, the company must approve or deny a claim within 15 days of their receipt of documents. But, if an adjuster has good reason, that can be extended to 45 days. If they deny the claim, and you appeal, the timeline just keeps extending out from there.
Some Car Wreck Settlements Take Years
Accidents involving life changing injuries, death, or those with complicated matters, can end up going well past the year mark before they’re finally closed. The biggest factor that ends up causing cases to take longer than others is when the courts become involved. Legal proceedings can tend to be a drawn out process; here is the condensed version of how they can go.
Complaint Filed – When the at-fault driver is denying responsibility for the wreck, or the insurance company is denying a claim that is legitimate, the complaint must be filed so that a lawsuit can begin.
Defendant Served – Just filing the lawsuit doesn’t mean the defending party will know what’s going on. They have to be served with the lawsuit. If the defendant has moved, or otherwise is making themselves scarce, it can take anywhere from weeks to months to track them down.
Defendant Answers – The defendant will enlist the help of their own attorney, and they will answer the complaint and legally file it with the court system.
Discovery – Each party will discover the evidence in order to be prepared for the trial. This is getting all evidence in order, making sure they have sound arguments, and more.
Trial – The actual trial is the quickest part of the whole process. Most cases only last a day or two in court before a result is delivered.
Appeal – The results are not always final. Either party can appeal the decision. If this happens, the case can extend into many years before a verdict is finally reached.
If your settlement doesn’t go through immediately, and you have to move to court proceedings. There is good news. After the lawsuit has begun, most of them are never completed. Since the process is long, expensive, and most car accident attorneys will have a good idea of the outcome, the case will usually settle before it even goes to trial.
Zach Herbert – Car Accident Attorney in Richardson, Texas
Some wrecks are easy to settle. Some wrecks take a lot longer. Until the specifics are known, it’s hard to say how long any of this will take. But there is one thing that we can be certain of: most car wreck settlements will take longer if you try to go it alone, than if you hire the help of a car accident attorney.