Why Is My Accident Settlement Taking so Long?
Have you suffered significant injuries and losses in an accident? Are you now waiting forever to get the money you need to cover these costs and get back to living your life? While this may seem like a stressful situation, it is a common problem many accident victims have to deal with.
That is why if you endured severe damages in an accident and want to know how long it may take for your case to settle, it is important that you understand the factors that can impact this time frame, the reasons why accident settlements take so long to resolve, and the things you can do to help speed up this process along.
The Fundamentals of an Accident Settlement
A settlement is an agreement between a victim and the wrongful party or the insurance company that resolves an issue without heading to trial. However, as a result of this settlement process, the wrongful party or the insurance company will usually have to pay compensation to the victim, and in response, the victim will not pursue any further legal action against them.
Yet, while the premise of a settlement may seem relatively straightforward, coming to an agreement after an accident can be challenging. For these reasons, it is usually in your best interest to reach out to an experienced car accident injury attorney as soon as possible. These legal professionals have the knowledge, experience, and skills to take on these complex settlement discussions, prepare the most convincing legal claim on your behalf, and go after the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Certain Issues That Can Delay the Accident Settlement Process
One of the most common questions victims of an accident want to know is how long it will take for their injury claim to resolve. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not that simple, as this time period will depend on numerous factors, including the complexity of the claim and the circumstances surrounding it.
For instance, consider the following factors that can delay your accident settlement process:
1. The Settlement Process Is Complicated
To start this settlement process, you need to send a demand letter to the wrongful party or the insurance company. This letter is a document that will lay out liability factors, explain damages, and discuss the relevant facts of the accident. It will also let the other side know the payout you expect and how much time the party will have to meet these demands.
Generally, after the insurance receives this letter, they will start their own investigation into the incident and either deny the demands in the letter or accept them. If they decide to accept, they will provide you with a settlement offer, allowing your attorney to start negotiations with them if they do not agree with this amount. However, if the insurance company denies your claim, you and your attorney can appeal it and pursue further legal action.
During the negotiation process, the terms of the settlement will be discussed. If a settlement can be reached, the ordeal will be resolved. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will likely proceed to trial, where the attorney will try to fight for maximum compensation.
Unfortunately, because no one has unlimited time to devote to a personal injury claim and the amount of work that this process entails, the timeframe to complete everything can take months to even years. That is why, after an accident, it is recommended you retain an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can not only handle every part of this case for you, but they can also prepare the strongest legal claim and fight for the outcome you need.
2. Securing Evidence Following an Accident Can Take a Significant Amount of Time
To bring a successful legal claim, you need relevant and reliable evidence to support it. Plus, it is always best to have as much evidence as possible when it comes to these claims. Yet, obtaining all this evidence will take time, and you likely will need help from your attorney to retrieve it or get the guidance needed on where to find it.
Some of the more common evidentiary evidence that can support these legal claims include:
- Police and medical reports
- Bills that resulted from the accident and the treatments needed to care for the injuries that resulted
- Photos of the accident scene, including pictures of the visible injuries, the hazardous condition that caused the accident, any vehicles involved in the collision, the weather conditions, and anything else that contributed to the accident
- Driving records
- Repair bills or estimates regarding personal property damages
- Witness testimony
- Documents indicating lost wages and an estimated loss of future compensation because of the injuries
- A doctor’s prognosis regarding your recovery
3. Waiting for Maximum Medical Improvement Can Delay the Process
Depending on the accident, it can take some time to fully understand the extent of the harm sustained, the type of treatments that will be required in the future, and the full prognosis of the injury.
As a result, to understand how much compensation you should demand, you should wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Maximum medical improvement is a term used to indicate that you have recovered as much as medically possible and doctors do not anticipate further improvement.
MMI helps your attorneys understand the full extent of your losses and how much money they have to fight for on your behalf. More importantly, if you do not wait until you have reached this improvement, you risk losing money that you may be entitled to and be left dealing with astronomical medical bills on your own.
However, reaching maximum medical improvement takes time, which ultimately can impact the amount of time it will take for your case to resolve.
4. Going After Substantial Damages May Slow Down the Settlement Process
Following an accident, you may be entitled to certain types of compensation, including payment for your medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and other losses.
However, if you suffered catastrophic injuries or extensive property damage, the time it will take to settle these specific legal claims can be longer than others. This is because the higher the value of your legal claim, the more likely it will be that the insurance company will try to draw out the process to avoid paying, and the more complicated the negotiations will be with the other side.
5. The Other Side Will Try to Delay Your Claim
Another common reason why your accident settlement is taking so long is that the other side is trying to delay the processing of your claim in hopes that you will give up and settle for less than you deserve.
As a result, you may find that the insurance company will try to argue that your injuries existed before the accident or disprove their severity. They may also try to deny liability, misrepresent the available coverage amount, or other aspects of your policy. Plus, they may also delay responding to your claim, slow down the investigation of the accident, hold up communications regarding submitted claims, or send back documentation, so you will need to fill out everything again.
Consequently, the longer this process drags on, the longer it will take for your claim to settle. Thankfully when you work with an experienced personal injury attorney, they will not only know about these deceptive tactics, but they will also know how to respond to these practices and speed up your claim.
6. The Insurance Company May Try to Offer You a Lowball Settlement Offer
As insinuated above, the insurance company is not there to help you after an accident, especially to get the maximum money you deserve. Instead, these companies are like other businesses, where their priority is to make a profit, and by denying your claim or offering you less than you are entitled to, they succeed in their goal.
That is why it is common for these companies to offer a settlement amount shortly after an accident when the victim is struggling and at their most vulnerable. Why? Because the settlement they offer is usually so meager that it will barely cover any of the victim’s costs.
However, in their current condition, they hope the victim will not look into this amount or question it. They also know that once the settlement offer is accepted, the individual cannot come back and ask them for any more money, even if they realize the settlement did not cover all their losses.
For these reasons, before you accept anything from the other side, you should first discuss your accident with an experienced personal injury attorney. These lawyers can verify whether this settlement offer is fair to you, and if it is not, they can go back to the insurance company and negotiate for an amount that covers all of your current and future expenses.
However, it should be noted that this back and forth with the insurance company will take time, which can delay how fast your case concludes.
7. The Post-Settlement Payout Process Will Take Time
Even once an accident is settled, getting your final payout can take time. First, you will have to wait for the responsible party to write a check to your attorney, who will disburse these funds. However, before you get this money, certain debts will need to be paid off with your settlement, including unpaid medical bills, insurance fees, attorney fees, and contingency fees.
Consequently, due to the logistical issues involved with this payout process, it may take some time for this settlement money to get into your bank account. Yet, when you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to take care of these issues for you, these lawyers can try to make sure this process goes as smoothly as possible and keep you updated if anything gets delayed.
Work With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney and Get the Legal Help You Need With the Accident Settlement Process
Even if your accident resulted from another person’s wrongful actions, obtaining the financial damages you deserve can take time and result in you jumping through several hoops before you can get this money—things you likely don’t want to deal with when you are recovering from devastating injuries.
For these reasons, following this tragic accident, it may be best to retain an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you can. These lawyers can handle this case on your behalf and go after maximum financial recovery while you focus on your healing and getting better.
To get you this outcome, these lawyers can:
- Go over your accident with you in detail and figure out whether you have a valid legal claim and the legal options you can pursue.
- Analyze the incident and secure the evidence needed to prove what happened, who was at fault, and the extent of your damages.
- Hold all the at-fault parties accountable for the harm and losses you endured.
- Ensure that legal files and motions are prepared and filed before the statute of limitations expires.
- Hire experts to corroborate your case, including financial specialists, accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, and others.
- Handle all the settlement discussions and go after the just offer you need.
- Proceed to trial if the other is taking too long or not willing to get you the money you are entitled to, and fight for a successful outcome.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a personal injury accident, do not take on this challenging settlement process on your own. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a no-risk, free case consultation, and find out how these lawyers can help you fight for your rights and the financial recovery you deserve.