How Long Does it Take to Settle an Automobile Accident?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
There is no set time frame for settling an automobile accident claim. Every case is unique, with characteristics affecting the settlement process and how long it takes.
It is natural for you to want to receive your settlement quickly. Settling too quickly, however, could leave you substantially out of pocket. You might, for example, find that you need further medical treatment that hasn’t been taken into consideration.
A competent attorney will avoid this pitfall. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C., we can help you file your car accident claim and navigate the settlement process to avoid drawing out the case. Contact our law office to arrange your free consultation so we can help you determine the factors that can impact how long it takes to settle your case.
The Severity of the Injuries
Settlements for minor injuries such as cuts and bruises can be achieved quickly. Their extent, impact on your life, and the length of time to recover are known. You can deal with these injuries through Michigan’s no-fault insurance law compensation scheme. You will recover your medical bills and lost wages quickly, provided you are less than 50% at-fault.
But how long does a car accident case take to settle when your injuries are severe? The timeline is longer if your auto accident case results in serious injuries because there is no concrete time frame in which you will recover. This means you cannot accurately predict your future medical expenses or care costs.
If you have not recovered fully from your injuries but have reached the stage of maximum medical improvement, you may be able to settle your injury claim if:
- Your past and present medical expenses are known, and the cost of ongoing treatment can be assessed.
- Your lost wages figure is known because the effect of your injuries on your earning capacity can be calculated and included in any settlement figure.
- Your entitlement to damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life can be quantified and included in the settlement.
It’s much faster to settle your claim when you’ve reached this stage of recovery, and your medical care costs are apparent. However, if you’re not fully recovered, a personal injury lawyer can help you gather the evidence to move your case forward.
The Question of Liability
Under Michigan’s comparative negligence laws, the amount of your compensation may be reduced depending on your level of fault in the accident.
The percentage of fault that you have in the accident may be deducted from any settlement figure. If you were 10% to blame for the accident, any award would be reduced by 10%.
Provided that the at-fault driver is not more than 50% to blame for the accident, they have a claim against you. Unless the at-fault driver is 100% to blame for the accident, it is unlikely that a pre-trial settlement will be reached, even with a skilled car accident lawyer in your corner. Going through the legal processes to take your case to trial slows the timeline for achieving compensation.
The At-Fault Driver’s Policy Limits
If the at-fault driver has opted for minimum liability coverage, their insurance company will only be liable for damages up to $50,000 for your injury. Any settlement or award above that will have to come from the at-fault driver.
This may cause a delay in settling your case because the at-fault driver may need time to raise the settlement money.
If they don’t voluntarily settle, you may have to file a lawsuit. This delays your car accident settlement check, and proceeding to trial can extend your case by months or years.
The Amount of Damages
The insurance company will try to slow negotiations if it is apparent they face a large payout. They are in the business of making profits, so keep large payments off their balance sheets for as long as possible.
They delay negotiations and a settlement offer by requiring further evidence or medical examinations and failing to respond promptly to communications from your attorney. By using these tactics, they can delay settlement by months if not years. A skilled attorney can help you negotiate with the insurance company to accelerate the process.
Case Load in the Community
If your case does go to trial, you may find that settlement of the claim faces a considerable delay. There are several reasons for this, such as:
- There are pre-trial hearings to organize administrative matters relating to the case
- There are procedural matters such as disclosure of documents to complete
- The date of the hearing could be delayed due to the availability of judges
Your Law Firm’s Reputation
Insurance companies are aware of attorneys’ reputations and how they conduct cases. If an attorney gets a reputation for being reluctant to go to trial or taking lowball settlement offers, the insurance companies will know. They will base their negotiations and case tactics around that notion.
Insurance companies will sometimes try to use litigation to wear down accident victims and their lawyers. This tactic delays your compensation payout. It also means they can use attrition to maneuver the accident victim and their lawyer into a state of mind to accept a lower offer.
If your lawyer has a reputation for acting expeditiously and taking injury cases to trial, you can spur the insurance company into action. The insurance company will not want to risk large awards from the court. They will always try to settle with attorneys who have a track record for going to trial. These lawyers achieve higher settlement figures much faster.
Consult an Attorney to Recover the Compensation You Deserve
To recover a fair settlement, you need a skilled personal injury lawyer. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C., our senior partner Eileen Kroll is also a registered nurse. She brings her expertise from five years as a practicing nurse to your case before being admitted to the State Bar in 1990. Eileen can interpret your medical records and apply her practical knowledge to help prove your claim.
Whether you’re dealing with severe, life-altering injuries or minor discomfort resulting from someone else’s negligence behind the wheel, it’s critical to exercise your legal right to an attorney.
If you’re ready to take control of your car accident claim and seek the compensation you deserve, our personal injury attorneys can help. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we make legal representation accessible so you can get the guidance you need.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.