Why Does It Take So Long for Car Accident Cases to Settle?
Being in a car accident can change your life forever. Fortunately, you may be able to hold the other party responsible, ultimately winning a settlement that covers any and all damages to you, including damages to your property, injuries you’ve suffered personally, and even your subjective pain and suffering.
The problem is, it sometimes takes months, or even years, for car accident cases to settle. Why does it take so long for a lawsuit to settle? And is there any way around it?
The Timeline for a Car Accident Settlement
Let’s start by looking at the general timeline for a car accident settlement. Once you see the many steps of this arduous process, you’ll instantly begin to understand why it takes so long for these types of matters to become finalized.
While every case is different, you can usually expect a flow like this:
- Medical treatment. First, before you do anything, make sure you get proper medical attention following the accident. If you were injured in the car accident, you may need to seek emergency medical care on the spot; either way, you’ll need to attend follow-up appointments, follow your doctor’s advice, and get better over the course of weeks or possibly months depending on the severity of your injuries.
- Initial evaluation. First will be the initial filing and evaluation. You’ll contact the relevant insurance companies, who will then ask you for any evidence you can gather concerning damage to you, your vehicle, and your other personal property. The insurance company will begin the process of evaluating the claim.
- Documentation and evidence gathering. During this time, your insurance companies and your lawyer (assuming you have one) will work hard to gather evidence and solidify documentation of the case. These will be indispensable in navigating the completion of the case.
- Offers and responses. At some point, your insurance company will reach out to you with an offer, covering all the expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the accident. Oftentimes, this will be a low offer, since the insurance company is incentivized to pay as little as possible. If this amount isn’t enough, you’ll need to make a response, and negotiations can begin. Negotiations can sometimes take weeks by themselves.
- Lawsuit process. If you can’t reach an agreement with the insurance company through negotiation, you may need to file a lawsuit and take the matter to court. If you do, it will likely be months before you even get a court date which means it will be that much longer until you receive your settlement money.
- Final payment disbursal. Even after you’ve reached a settlement or won the case, it can take additional weeks to receive your final payment. That’s because the money must go through a sequence of steps before it reaches you.
Factors Responsible for Delays
Now let’s take a look at some of the most important factors responsible for these types of delays:
- Bureaucracy. One of the biggest culprits is modern bureaucracy, which is notoriously slow by nature. Most insurance companies are big, hulking organizations with many individual departments and dozens of individual employees who each have a role in processing your case. If 10 people need to see it, and each one of them takes 2 days to go over the materials, you’re instantly up to 20 days of processing time. Things get even slower when you consider the internal administrative processes necessary to complete this type of action.
- Evidence and ambiguities. Not all personal injury cases have clear and unambiguous evidence. If it’s not clear who’s at fault, or if there are missing pieces of information, it could take weeks for investigators to sort the matter out.
- Negotiations. In many cases, negotiations can be long and drawn out. If both parties are stubborn, refusing to compromise, it could take weeks to reach an amicable solution.
- Intentional insurance company delays. It’s in the insurance company’s best interests to delay paying you for as long as possible. That’s why, on some level, the insurance payment delays are intentional.
- Court proceedings. Negotiations take a long time, but court proceedings are often even worse. It might be weeks before you can get a court date, and the trial process could be even longer.
- Payment logistics. Payment isn’t as simple as depositing the settlement into your account. It must enter escrow, where it’s reviewed and modified before being submitted to you.
What You Can Do
Is there anything you can do to speed up the process?
Unfortunately, delays are baked into the car accident claim process, but there are some steps you can take to minimize those delays.
- Work with the right lawyer. We can't stress this enough! A good lawyer will work hard to get you your money as soon as possible. They’ll meet every deadline, make responses promptly, direct you on what you need to do, and hound the insurance company until they start making moves. An aggressive, ambitious lawyer can easily shave weeks off your timeline.
- Get treatment and comply with requests promptly. Make sure you get medical treatment and comply with all external requests as promptly as possible. If your lawyer requests a piece of evidence, give it to them as soon as you can. If you have a follow-up appointment, try not to cancel or postpone it. If your insurance company makes an offer, don’t take weeks to think about it.
- Look into a settlement advance. Finally, look into the possibility of a settlement advance. A settlement advance will provide you with immediate cash, based on the amount you’re projected to win. Once you win a settlement, you’ll pay back the money you borrowed, plus a small fixed fee, and if you don’t win a settlement, you won’t owe anything. It can help you make ends meet while you’re waiting for your primary settlement to arrive.
A settlement advance can tide you over while you wait for your case to settle – and with the right provider, you won’t owe anything if you don’t eventually win a settlement. Start the process today by filling out this simple application – or contact us directly for more information!