How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?

Car Accidents,insurance | June 27, 2019

After an accident, injured drivers must take certain necessary steps to pursue a claim, regardless of whether they file the claim with their insurance company or choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Either option results in the driver filing necessary documents and evidence that the other party must examine. This initiates a claims process that could take from a few weeks to a few months to complete. The amount of time it takes to settle a car accident claim is solely dependent on the involved parties’ cooperation and the details of your specific accident.

Woman driving car on freeway

Methods of Filing a Claim

Individuals can file a car accident claim through several avenues. The first, and oftentimes the most pursued option, is filing solely with your own insurance company. This process involves your insurance company contacting the other driver’s insurance carrier, who then assigns claims adjustors to your case.

Filing solely through your insurance company is similar to the second option, in which you pursue a personal injury claim through the court against the driver or the other driver’s insurance company. This process is almost the same as going through your own insurance and involves claims adjustors and mediation. However, it also necessitates you filing a lawsuit in small claims court. Insurance claims do not involve the court in this way. However, you can file a lawsuit after determining that the mediation involved in the first option (insurance claim) is not leading to an agreement.

Factors That Impact Your Claim’s Timeline

The route you take in seeking compensation, and the success involved in each mediation process, impacts the length of your claim. However, even when negotiation settlement is not an issue, the insurance company itself can take a while to process your claim based on a few different factors:

The Plaintiff’s Recovery

The injuries you’ve claimed dictate the length of time an insurance company has to close out a claim. One common example of this occurs when a plaintiff is still receiving medical treatment for their injuries. In cases where a physician cannot yet predict your treatment trajectory and associated medical costs, the claims process could stall. This is a good thing because it ensures that you will recover damages that accurately represent your injuries currently and in the future.

Examining Evidence

The insurance company will investigate any evidence at length that might seem faulty and/or unclear to make sure that the plaintiff is not claiming false injury. Insurance companies must make sure they do an effective job in examining all evidence, even if this extends your claim’s timeline. Claims adjustors rarely, if ever, take a plaintiff’s word for their injury. This is one reason why a car accident attorney is useful in the claims process – they ensure your evidence is sound and easy to interpret.

Insurance Company Lag Time

Insurance companies don’t address claims with the immediacy that a plaintiff generally hopes for. How long it takes for them, or the insurance adjustors assigned to your case, to work through it depends on their current workload. This can impact how long it takes to initiate communication and comb investigate your evidence.

Court Hearings

If you bring your claim to court, your claim’s timeline will include at least an additional few weeks to months. Court proceedings require them to set a court date among all other cases they handle, which is not always immediate. And even after the court establishes a ruling, it takes several weeks for your payment to process.

The length of time it takes to settle your car accident case is wholly dependent on your individual situation. Some insurance companies do take longer to process claims than others. Being patient typically results in a more accurate settlement than does trying to rush the process. Though it might be bothersome to have to wait for your pay out, oftentimes your compensation is worth the wait.