How Long Does It Take to Settle an Accident Claim?

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Settle an Accident Claim

When you’re in a car accident, you might file an insurance claim, which is a request for compensation after your vehicle is damaged or you’re hurt. There are more than $170 billion in claims payments made by insurance companies in the United States each year. 

When you file a claim depends on the extent of your injuries and damage, and which insurer you file a claim with depends on who caused the damage. 

If you’re in an accident that’s the fault of someone else, the other person’s insurance should cover your damages, but they don’t always want to do so, or they don’t offer a fair settlement. In that case, you could retain the services of a personal injury attorney who will negotiate your claim to help you get the compensation you deserve. 

One of the big questions that people have in these instances is how long it’s likely going to take to settle their claim. The general answer is that it depends, but the following are some factors that play a role. 

How Long Will It Take to Reach Maximum Medical Improvement?

Maximum medical improvement, or MMI, is something that’s used a lot when talking about insurance and accident claims. MMI is a point where your doctor determines where you won’t likely see improvements in your condition with further medical treatment. 

This may be when you’ve reached a full recovery, or it could mean that you’re going to have a permanent disability. It all depends on your injuries and personal situation, but it’s tough to calculate damages before you’ve reached this point because you don’t know how much your medical expenses are ultimately going to be. 

If you’re in a serious accident, it could be months before you reach MMI. In a less severe accident, you could reach MMI relatively soon after, but regardless, your attorney is going to tell you that you need to wait to negotiate a settlement until you’re at this point. 

To know how much you deserve in damages, your attorney will need all of your medical documentation. This is going to help them figure out what a fair damage award would be in your case, and your medical records will show the extent of the injuries you sustained. 

Claim Size

The larger the claim, the longer an insurance company is probably going to want to delay and negotiate. Insurers are in the business of making a profit, and they want to do everything in their ability to pay out as little as possible. 

Case Details

There are so many factors that potentially come into play in individual cases that can make the claim process take longer. 

As an example, if you have a claim that involves a commercial company, like a trucking company, or it includes a government entity, this is all going to extend your timeline more so than if you had a claim that was between just you and another driver. 

Any time a corporation is involved, they’re going to do extensive investigations, so expect that the timeline will be lengthened. 

Percentage of Fault

It can take time to establish liability in the case of a car accident. Liability is a big factor in the amount you might be entitled to receive, but the rules for liability and how fault is determined vary depending on the state. 

For example, if you live in a state with a comparative negligence system, your settlement will be reduced by your own percentage of fault for an accident. If you’re more than 51% at fault, you aren’t entitled to damages. 

It’s just more difficult to establish liability and prove negligence in some accidents than in others. 

Another factor that can become relevant is if there are eyewitness accounts. Witnesses to an accident may be able to provide statements, and that can help establish liability, but it can be a long process to coordinate with a lot of witnesses if they exist. 

Finally, the lawyer you work with and how skilled they are at negotiations is going to be either a big plus to shorten the timeline of your settlement or, on the other hand, potentially extend it. Most accident claims do settle, with a very small percentage going to trial. 

Your lawyer is most likely going to negotiate your claim and not litigate it. 

Insurance adjusters are also adept negotiators—that’s their entire job, but a personal injury attorney who’s experienced and skilled should be able to go head-to-head with an adjuster. 

Choosing the best attorney is going to be a major factor in the time it takes to resolve your claim.

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