How Long Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Take
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If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you know how stressful the aftermath can be. And when you have mounting medical and vehicle repair bills, you are probably wondering how long it will take to file a car accident lawsuit to receive the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
Unfortunately, there is no way to estimate the exact amount of time that your lawsuit might take. Minor accidents can be resolved in months, while more serious accidents can take years to resolve. Talking to a lawyer can help you form an estimate for your individual case, but in this post, we will describe some of the factors that determine the length of cases in general.
Determining The Extent Of Injuries From A Car Accident
While damages to your vehicle are usually not difficult to calculate, medical injuries can be a more complicated landscape to navigate. Insurance companies may need to spend time asking questions about vague claims such as whiplash or generalized pain, while serious life-long or life-threatening injuries can take a long time to calculate accurately.
Other factors to consider when determining the extent of your injuries are:
- Maximum medical improvement (MMI): MMI is the point at which your condition has improved as much as possible, and further medical intervention is not expected to help you. If you file your claim before reaching MMI, you will not be compensated for future costs.
- Proving your injuries stem from the accident in question: Your doctor will need to prove that your injuries are not due to any pre-existing condition or prior accident.
As you can probably tell, any of these factors can add months or years to the time it takes to calculate your settlement.
Proving Liability in a Car Accident
If a car accident is fairly straightforward, with one driver clearly at fault, then that driver’s insurance could settle within a matter of months. But car accidents are rarely clear cut, and any number of factors can draw out this process.
If the fault is not clear, the insurance company may be unwilling to settle for the necessary amount. Sometimes the insurance company may try to minimize or deny fault altogether, especially in cases where injuries are severe and medical bills are high. This is a situation where you will need an experienced car accident attorney on your side, to help you gather the evidence you need to prove fault.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
You will start by sending the insurance company a demand letter that states your claim. In Pennsylvania, insurance companies have 10 business days to acknowledge your claim, and 30 days to investigate. In NJ, the company is allowed 45 calendar days to settle your claim, although they can extend this time if they need to conduct additional investigations.
Once they have responded you can either:
- Accept the offer
- Appeal the offer
- Reject the offer and negotiate for a higher settlement
- Reject the offer and file a lawsuit
It is always helpful to discuss these options with a skilled attorney before making a final decision on what choice you will make.
Will My Car Accident Lawsuit Go to Trial or Settle?
If you have decided to bring a lawsuit, you may be wondering if your claim will go to trial or be more likely to settle out of court. The Bureau of Justice has found that only 3 percent of personal injury cases go to trial and that cases involving car accidents tend to settle faster than other kinds of tort cases. Almost all of the cases in the study sample settled in less than 14 months. So in most cases, you have a good chance of settling your case quickly, without the need for a trial.
Regardless of how you want to proceed, having a skilled car accident lawyer on your side will help you weigh the pros and cons of a lawsuit, as well as help insurance adjusters, take your claim more seriously and speed the process along.
Since 2001, Richard Hollawell has been representing car accident victims who were seriously injured and helping them receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation at 1-800-681-3550 or fill out our contact form here.