There is no exact timeline for a car accident settlement because multiple factors are involved, and every accident is different. Moreover, the time it takes to resolve a car crash case varies based on its facts and details. In fact, it can take just a few weeks to several months or longer to settle these cases, and there is an investigation required on each party’s end.
Also, if you experienced severe injuries and property damage, this could impact the duration of the settlement process, and it could be lengthy. Retaining an attorney who has navigated the insurance and legal systems may help shorten the timeline and make the process more efficient.
What Is an Auto Accident Settlement?
Settlements are agreements between an accident victim and a liable person, party, or their insurer. The latter is asked to pay compensation for damages the victim incurred due to the accident. Compared to court cases, settlements tend to save both sides money, time, and effort. Deciding whether to settle or take the case to court can be challenging, but consulting an injury attorney may make this decision easier.
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Car Accident Settlement Process
The following outlines the typical auto accident settlement process, from the time of the incident to its conclusion, beginning with actions that should be taken immediately after the accident:
- Remain calm and assess the situation. Ensure you and those in the vehicle with you are safe. Seek emergency medical attention immediately (call 911) if anyone has potentially severe injuries.
- Call law enforcement and make a police report to help document your case. Inform them of any injuries you or others have sustained. Remain at the scene as needed and cooperate with the officer(s).
- Collect evidence and information. Take photographs and videos of vehicles involved and the accident site and gather physical evidence and witness statements. Write an account of what occurred and document any critical details and damaged property. Future evidence includes medical records related to the accident and police reports.
Collecting as much information as possible can help the case’s settlement timeline move forward. Also, you can submit the accident report to your insurance agency at this time. If you are injured and unable to do so, an injury lawyer can do much of this for you.
Information to collect includes the following:
- Name and phone number of parties involved
- Insurance information
- Vehicle information
- Reference number of the police report and officer information
- Names and contact information for eyewitnesses, if applicable
- Seek legal representation. If you haven’t already, it’s probably in your best interest to retain an attorney if you or another person was injured in the accident due to another person’s negligence. They can help you navigate the settlement process and seek compensation and take the case to court if necessary.
After the above steps are done, your attorney can help you with the following:
Sending a Demand Letter
Now is the time to write and send a demand letter to the insurer or at-fault party. This is a professional document, often written by an attorney, asking for reimbursement for the other party’s negligence or fault. This letter will present the facts about the auto accident and attempt to persuade the insurance agency to compensate the victim for the damages incurred.
Waiting for the Insurance Company’s Response
An insurer can respond to a demand letter in several ways, including the following:
- Your demands are accepted, you will receive the requested compensation, and the settlement will be resolved.
- They make a counteroffer. You can accept this, continue negotiation, or take the claim to court. You can make another counteroffer if you believe the monetary amount they offered is unreasonable. This is where working with an injury attorney who handles car accident cases can help in the settlement process.
- They reject your claim and refuse to pay. This is relatively rare and only occurs when there is a lack of evidence or other issues with the process.
Damages reimbursable in personal injury cases include loss of past and future income, medical costs, physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, etc.
Entering Settlement Negotiations
As noted, if you are unsatisfied with the insurer’s or liable party’s initial offer or counteroffer, you may enter the negotiations process until an agreement is made. This can take several months. If both sides agree to a payment arrangement, a settlement check should be issued within a few weeks, and the process concludes.
Taking the Case to Trial
Negotiating a settlement is achievable only if both sides can come to an agreement. Although this process may take just a few weeks or months, many car accident claims that go to court take a year or more to complete.
Importantly, the statute of limitations in Georgia to file a personal injury claim is two years, per O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.
There are several litigation steps in car accident legal claims:
- Filing a complaint and sending it to the defendant, who must respond.
- Initiating discovery, or the formal process of both parties exchanging information about the witnesses and evidence they intend to present at trial. This can take several months.
- Presenting the case at trial, which can be as short as just a few hours but may take longer.
- Appealing if one party is dissatisfied with the trial verdict. This can take months or years.
At any point, the parties negotiate a settlement.
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We encourage you to contact our law office as soon as possible We can examine your car accident’s details and determine what timeline and settlement you could expect. We help potential clients understand what they may stand to lose or gain by initiating a legal claim or settling out of court.
If you were injured in an accident caused by another party that resulted in financial losses, our team at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers is here to help and fight for your right to receive compensation.