How Long Does it Take to Receive Car Accident Compensation?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
If you suffer injuries in a car accident, you can seek compensation for collision-related expenses. Compensation in Michigan can include personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, a settlement from a negligent party’s insurance company, or awarded damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
However, you won’t see the money immediately if you win compensation for your injuries. Depending on the facts of your case, such as the claim you file and the complexity of the incident, your settlement can take several months to years to receive.
Learn the timeline of receiving compensation after a car accident and how the skilled attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you through the compensation process as quickly as possible.
Basics of the Settlement Process
Understanding the basics of the settlement process can help explain the timeline of receiving compensation after an injury accident. If you decide to file a claim after an auto accident, you can expect the following to occur:
File Your Claim with the Insurance Company
In Michigan, you must first file a claim with your PIP insurance. This will pay for medical expenses and lost wages up to the maximum under your insurance coverage.
If your injuries exceed the state’s serious injury threshold, you may be able to seek a car accident settlement through a claim with the negligent party’s liability insurance. Serious injuries include those that leave you with significant disfigurement or disability or result in the death of a loved one.
Negotiate with Insurance for a Settlement
After filing a claim, you and your attorney will negotiate a settlement amount with the insurer. Most insurance companies do not agree to pay out your first settlement demand and instead may try to offer you a low settlement. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you avoid common mistakes when negotiating a settlement to get you a fair compensation offer during this stage.
Accept Settlement and Receive Payment
In most vehicle accident cases, the insurance company and accident victim can agree upon a settlement amount outside of court. Once you and your attorney negotiate your compensation, you and the insurer will sign the agreement. This paperwork will include the terms of the settlement, such as the amount you will receive, confidentiality clauses, and waivers of liability.
You should review the settlement terms with your lawyer before you sign them, which may require extra time. After you sign the documents, the insurance company will send a direct deposit to your attorney, who will disperse your funds after paying off outstanding fees or debts for your case.
An insurance company may refuse to pay a fair settlement for your case. If this happens, you can work with your personal injury attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. to fight for compensation in court. This process involves gathering evidence for your claim and presenting it to a judge or jury who will award you damages based on the evidence.
How Long Does it Take to Receive Compensation?
The time it takes to receive an average settlement varies based on multiple factors. The best way to understand the timeline for your case is to speak with your auto accident attorney about what may speed up or slow down receiving your funds.
The following can help you estimate a potential timeline for your settlement based on the type of claim you file:
Receiving a Settlement From PIP Insurance
PIP benefits are the most straightforward compensation you can expect to receive. Michigan law requires PIP insurers to pay your claim within 30 days if they receive reasonable proof of your injuries.
PIP insurance covers medical care, rehabilitative expenses, lost wages, and funeral costs up to your policy limit, which cannot fall below $50,000. You can expect PIP benefit compensation within a month of filing your claim.
Receiving a Settlement in a Third-Party Claim
Filing a claim with the other party’s insurance company may take longer to receive compensation. Insurance companies must generally reply to and begin investigating a claim within 30 days. However, the requirement does not mean the insurer must decide your claim or pay a settlement within that time frame.
Michigan law does require insurance companies to abide by good faith practices that require payout under specific circumstances, for instance, if liability is reasonably clear under the policy.
These factors typically mean most insurance claims are settled weeks or months after a collision. Once you settle, you can expect to see the funds after the company processes and transfers the funds, usually in a few weeks. This is after your attorney pays off third parties owed a portion of your settlement, like insurance lienholders and medical bills, and deducts their contingency fee.
Receiving Compensation Through a Personal Injury Claim
If your car accident case goes to court, it can significantly extend the waiting period for receiving compensation. You typically only pursue a personal injury lawsuit after you and your legal team have exhausted other efforts, such as an insurance claim. You may have gone through several months of negotiations before taking legal action.
To win compensation through the legal system, you must have sufficient evidence of your injuries. You and your attorney must prove that the crash resulted from the other driver’s negligence to convince the court that you deserve the damages you are asking for.
It may be difficult to establish sufficient proof of fault or damages. For example, you may not yet have conclusive evidence that the other driver was texting at the wheel. Your attorney will need to seek out witnesses in the area or subpoena footage from nearby security cameras.
Thoroughly investigating the accident, gathering evidence, calling witnesses, and obtaining testimony for a trial can take several weeks or months. A personal injury case must follow the timeline set by the court, including scheduling motions and hearings, and upon conclusion, must wait for the jury’s decision on damage awards.
Depending on the court’s schedule and the complexity of your case, it can take months to years to receive compensation.
Additional Factors That Affect Your Settlement Timeline
If you seek compensation through a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit, additional factors can affect the time it takes to receive your settlement. These include non-economic damages being more difficult to prove in a personal injury case and that both parties (or the jury in a personal injury suit) must decide on a settlement amount.
Non-Economic Damages are Harder to Prove
Personal injury or car accident claims allow you to pursue non-economic and economic damages. However, these damages are much harder to quantify for the insurance company or court. Where property damage or medical bills have a clear monetary cost, non-economic damages like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life don’t carry an exact dollar value. There is no monetary cap on these damages.
To collect non-economic damages, you must demonstrate the accident’s effect on your life. Your attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you prove non-quantifiable damages for maximum compensation.
We can help gather evidence that shows how the crash has left you unable to work and lead a normal life due to anxiety. We can also demonstrate non-economic damages by providing journal entries or records from your therapy sessions or having friends or loved ones testify how your behavior and demeanor have changed since the accident.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Michigan uses modified comparative negligence in car crash cases. This doctrine says that if a person is more than 50% responsible for the motor vehicle accident, they cannot win compensation. Additionally, a person’s settlement offer is contingent on their percentage of responsibility for the incident. For example, if a jury finds you 10% responsible, your award amount will be lowered by 10%.
This doctrine can affect the timeline of your settlement. An insurance company will use it to try and lower your offer, leading to more complex negotiations with your attorney that take weeks or months.
If your case goes to trial, the jury will consider fault carefully to award your damages. If the other side claims you were partially responsible, the jury must determine the percentage of fault and award you accordingly. Because this doctrine requires a detailed examination of the evidence, a complex case involving multiple parties or complicated factors can take longer to decide.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Can Help You Collect Compensation
If you have been injured in a car accident in Michigan, seek help from the attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. We represent car accident victims, including filing PIP or third-party insurance claims and personal injury claim litigation in court.
Our experience handling auto accident claims can simplify your claims process and help you get your settlement quicker. We know how to gather evidence to support your claim and negotiate with insurance companies for a fair settlement so you don’t have to wait to receive the compensation you’re owed.
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 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) 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.