The amount of time that it takes to negotiate a car accident settlement can vary widely. One claim might settle within a few months, while others can take years to get resolved if negotiations fail and the case goes to trial.
Multiple factors will control how long the negotiations last. Some of these issues are within your control; some are in the hands of other parties.
Factors That Can Affect How Long Negotiations Last
Some of the factors that can control how long it takes to negotiate a car accident settlement include:
The Severity of Your Injuries
In general, injuries that take longer to heal will mean that the negotiations start later. We should begin to gather your medical records, employment records, and other relevant evidence to determine a fair settlement range and begin negotiating with the insurance company only once you’ve recovered so that you know the full extent of your injuries and expenses.
You might have an extended recuperation period if you experience complications, such as infection, during the healing process.
The Position of the Insurer
Sometimes an insurance company will take a hard line to discourage frivolous claims. Regardless of the merits of a claim, the insurer might make the injured person jump through extraordinary administrative hoops. In these situations, the negotiations can drag on longer than is typical.
The Statute of Limitations
Every state limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit seeking financial damages for personal injury. If your deadline is approaching, we might have to file a lawsuit to extend your right to go after compensation.
The pretrial phase of litigation is when “discovery” takes place. Discovery means that the plaintiff and defendant exchange documents and ask each other questions, both in writing and in person. The information we learn during the discovery stage will help us in negotiations and can be the best motivators for settlement. Each party learns the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, which helps you anticipate how a judge would rule.
The Defense Lawyer
If the lawyer who represents the defendant wants to impress the insurance companies who pay his legal fees, he might be aggressive about taking cases to trial rather than reaching a fair settlement. The defense lawyer also gets paid by the hour, so he has a financial incentive to get as many billable hours out of the case as possible.
The Court’s Schedule
Most cases settle, even after a lawsuit gets filed. The court will schedule hearings and court appearances for the lawyers to attend. If the judge has a heavily booked calendar, your case might not get any attention from the court for several months at a time. When the case is ready for a trial setting, the judge might not have any open trial dates for many months.
The Waiting Game
We can continue to negotiate with the other lawyer while we wait for the trial date. After a case gets set for trial, the insurance company often reviews the evidence and calculates a fair settlement range, taking into account what it will cost them to litigate the case. If we were not too far away from settling before this point, the insurer might authorize an amount that will resolve the matter.
Depending on the facts of your case, there might be additional issues that make the settlement negotiations shorter or longer.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Your Car Accident Settlement
Working with a personal injury lawyer from the beginning will help you navigate this complicated process and avoid pitfalls that could increase the time it takes to negotiate a car accident settlement or decrease your chances of getting the amount of money that you deserve. Some of the common mistakes are:
- Accepting a lowball offer from the insurance adjuster.
- Giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster.
- Not completing your medical treatment.
You do not have to pay upfront legal fees to talk with us about your car accident. We do not charge for the initial consultation. If we take your case, our legal fees will come out of the settlement proceeds or award at the end of the matter. You can focus on getting better while we take care of the rest.
We help people who get hurt because of the carelessness of others. At S. Burke Law, we pride ourselves on delivering personal, attentive legal services. You will not feel like a number with us. Call (404) 842-7838 today for a no-cost consultation. There is no obligation.