Auto Accident Lawyer
In an ideal world, all car accident victims would receive immediate compensation for their injuries. In the real world, the time it takes to settle a case depends on the circumstances. Some cases settle quickly, while others settle on the eve of trial.
When responsibility for the accident is clear and the full extent of the injury quickly becomes apparent, a case might settle in three months. That’s about the minimum amount of time it takes to gather medical records after an injury heals, to obtain proof of wage loss, and to negotiate a settlement.
Many cases take longer to settle, but most are resolved within two years after the accident. Here are some of the factors that determine how quickly an accident claim is likely to settle.
Healing Time May Delay Car Accident Settlements
No accident victim should settle a claim before it is clear how seriously he or she has been injured. Accident settlements are final. An accident victim who settles cannot ask for more money later if the injury turns out to be more serious than the victim thought it would be.
A settlement value cannot be determined until the full extent of the injury is known. Some injuries heal quickly. When that happens, the case can often be settled quickly.
Other injuries take longer to heal. Some injuries never fully heal. Many months may pass before a doctor can confidently say that an injury is likely to be permanent.
Since permanent injuries usually require more compensation than injuries that heal completely, it is essential to know whether the injury will be permanent before the case can be settled. For that reason, it usually takes longer to settle accident claims involving permanent or long-lasting injuries.
Failure to Obtain Treatment May Delay Car Accident Settlements
Accident victims who live busy lives sometimes neglect to keep their doctor’s appointments. Injury victims are particularly likely to stop going to physical therapy appointments because exercise is painful and time-consuming.
It is more difficult to settle cases when patients do not follow a physician’s advice. When an accident victim does not follow through with the recommended treatment, an insurance adjuster is likely to claim that the victim stopped treatment because the injury was fully healed.
When an accident victim is still in pain but does not follow treatment recommendations, it is difficult to convince insurance adjusters that the pain is real. Failing to get recommended treatment, therefore, delays settlement, and often results in a lower settlement than the victim would have received after obtaining all recommended treatment.
Negotiations with Insurance Adjusters May Delay Car Accident Settlements
Some insurance claims adjusters are more reasonable than others. When a claim is filed against another driver’s insurer, the insurance adjuster is not required to be fair. The fear of losing a trial is an insurance adjuster’s only motivation to negotiate a reasonable settlement.
Insurance adjusters sometimes delay settlements because they hope to wear down injury victims. Sometimes they make meritless arguments in an effort to reduce the settlement payment.
When insurance adjusters do not make reasonable settlement offers, the accident victim’s lawyer will file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, courts are busy and it takes time to prepare cases for trial. It is not unusual for cases to settle shortly before the scheduled trial date when it becomes clear to the insurance company that the lawyer will not back down. Delay caused by insurance companies is a key factor that determines how quickly a case will settle.
Insurance companies know that a car accident law firm has a track record of success. For that reason, most insurance adjusters have learned that dragging out settlement negotiations with an experienced law firm is pointless. An auto accident lawyer will always try to settle cases as promptly as possible without jeopardizing the client’s ability to receive full and fair compensation.