After a California car accident, you may be wondering when you will receive compensation for your injuries. This article explores the timeline for a car accident settlement.
It is perfectly understandable to wonder how long a car accident settlement will take since the financial effects of an auto accident can take a significant toll on day-to-day life. Accepting an insurance settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurer can often shorten the compensation timeline. However, you should consider the big picture before jumping into a decision that may not benefit you and could end up costing you dearly. Be aware that trying to settle a car accident injury claim on your own without representation from a skilled car accident lawyer is never a good idea.
Insurance Settlements And Car Accident Fault In California
Whether or not you can recover compensation after your car accident depends on numerous factors, one of which is fault. California is an at-fault state, which means the driver that is responsible for the collision is liable for the damage it caused. More specifically, California follows comparative fault rules when determining fault in car accident cases. If you are found to have contributed to the accident, even minimally, then the compensation you are entitled to will be decreased by your percentage of fault.
If it is decided that you are entitled to damages for the car accident, the insurance company will likely reach out to you to make a settlement offer. Settlements are deals that the injured party makes with the at-fault party’s insurer outside of court. The company will offer you a certain amount of money, and if you accept, you waive your ability to pursue any further legal action against the party responsible and their insurance company.
This method can be faster and more straightforward than filing a lawsuit and going through litigation. It also offers predictability regarding the amount of compensation you will receive, which court proceedings cannot provide since there is always some level of risk involved in lawsuits and jury verdicts. Despite these benefits, insurance settlements are not always the best option for injured motorists. Determining whether settlement or litigation is your best option is easier with help from a skilled personal injury lawyer. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so it is a good idea to discuss the possibilities with a skilled car accident lawyer before making any decisions, and before you speak with any insurance company, even your own.
Car Accident Victims Often Receive Greater Compensation When Represented By A Lawyer
The insurance company that offers you a settlement will try to limit it and their financial losses, and they may provide a low-ball offer or one that is insufficient to cover your medical treatment, wage loss, property damage, and pain and suffering. Having a car accident lawyer negotiate with the insurer instead makes your chance of receiving a fair offer more likely. In fact, an insurance industry study found that injured parties represented by an attorney received on average a settlement amount 3 times greater than those who were self-represented.
If you decide that a settlement is the path you would like to take, you may have questions about the timeframe. It usually takes less time than a lawsuit, but what does the process look like, and exactly how long will it be before you receive the compensation you need?
Insurance Settlement Timeframes
There are far too many variables to accurately predict how long a settlement will take. However, most car accident settlements are finished in less than 18 months. There are many steps that must be completed, starting with the moments immediately following the crash. Obtaining proper medical care, diagnoses, and prognoses can take anywhere from weeks to over one year, depending on the severity of your injuries. Gathering evidence and creating a compelling case often takes months, and then settlement negotiations usually take place over the course of four to six weeks.
The timeline can be impacted by factors such as:
- The severity and extent of injuries
- Willingness and cooperation levels of all parties
- The number of parties involved in the accident
How easily fault can be established will also impact how long a settlement could take. California’s system of comparative fault means that the percentage of the blame must be accurately calculated before compensation is awarded. The insurance company will likely attempt to place at least partial blame on you to lower their financial responsibility, which is another reason many car accident victims choose to hire a personal injury lawyer to advocate for the best outcome for their claim.
The exact timeline is impossible to predict. Each insurance settlement is determined by the specific details of the individual case. Typically, you or your personal injury lawyer will gather evidence from witnesses, police, scene and property damage photos, and medical records in order to prove fault and estimate the value of your claim. How long each step takes will depend on many uncontrollable factors, such as the cooperation of other people.
The individualized nature of insurance settlement cases means that you cannot remove all unpredictability or uncertainty from the process. However, with support from a car accident lawyer, you can feel confident that each step will be handled with expertise aimed at protecting your best interests.
Accepting A Settlement After Filing A Lawsuit
If initial settlement negotiations do not lead to a fair offer from the insurance company, you may decide that litigation is the best option. Filing a lawsuit in California for injury claims must be done within two years after the accident. If that two-year window passes, and no lawsuit is filed, you may no longer be able to sue for damages.
If the insurer offers an increased settlement and you agree to the amount, you can still accept their offer after you file a lawsuit. In fact, the possibility of extended litigation and increased costs and the unpredictability of court verdicts are often motivators for the insurance company to reevaluate their offer in an effort to avoid a lengthy and costly court battle.
It is understandable that you try to obtain an appropriate level of compensation for your pain and suffering, property damage, and medical treatment costs. Whatever you decide, a personal injury lawyer is a great resource to ensure you have the best chance at recovering a just and proper financial award that reflects the damages you are entitled to.
Ultimately, the decision to accept a settlement or pursue litigation is up to you, but it is a good idea to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure you make an informed decision.
We offer San Francisco Bay Area Car Accident Victims A Free Consultation, with No Attorney’s Fees Unless We Recover
At The Hassell Law Group, our legal team are experts in car accident law and personal injury law and have over 100 years of combined legal experience. Experience matters. We stand up to aggressive insurance companies and our record of award-winning results for our clients shows this. We fight hard to obtain the best possible outcome for our car accident clients. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no risk in hiring our law firm, we aren’t paid unless you recover. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We welcome your questions, and our legal team looks forward to helping you get your car accident injury claim paid.