Why Is My Accident Settlement Taking so Long?
The duration of an accident settlement can vary depending on legal complexities, factual issues concerning your accident, the number of involved parties, or disputes regarding your claim, such as who is liable or how much money you should receive.
You generally have little— if any—control over the length of your car accident settlement, except for one critical step; the sooner you hire an experienced car accident lawyer in Orange county to handle your case, the quicker the claim process will progress. We’ll explain why.
Overview of Accident Settlements
An accident settlement is a legally binding resolution between parties in a personal injury claim, typically the person who suffered the injury (the plaintiff) and the person, company, or entity potentially liable for the injury (the defendant). The agreement resolves the claim outside of a court trial.
In the typical accident settlement, the defendant or their liability insurance carrier pays compensation to the plaintiff. In exchange, the plaintiff agrees to release the defendant and their insurer from further liability for the accident and to terminate any pending lawsuits against them.
The compensation a plaintiff receives from a settlement can include payment for various damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs associated with the accident.
Settlements are usually final and binding. Once you accept a settlement, you typically cannot pursue any further legal action for damages related to the same accident. It is vital to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible for your circumstances before agreeing to settle.
Most accident cases result in an out-of-court settlement because plaintiffs, defendants, and insurance companies often prefer to avoid the uncertainties and costs of going to trial. But not all cases end that way. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement, the case may need to proceed to trial for a determination by a judge or jury.
Factors That Can Determine the Timing of an Accident Settlement
Understanding the potential reasons behind the drawn-out timeline of an accident settlement can reduce your frustration. Common factors that can prolong the settlement process include:
The Need for Case Investigation and Analysis
One of the key factors contributing to the length of settlement negotiations is the need for a thorough investigation and assessment of the case facts. Before starting settlement talks, lawyers and insurers gather evidence pertinent to the case and conduct legal research and analysis. This process can take time, particularly in a complex accident case.
The Complexity of the Legal and Factual Issues
The complexity of the legal and factual issues surrounding your case can also influence the time it takes to settle. Some cases are more straightforward than others. For example, a rear-end collision claim might be simpler to settle than one involving a multi-vehicle pile-up. The extent of the injuries sustained can also prolong the case. Serious injuries with long-term implications often require more detailed assessments and valuations before negotiating a fair settlement.
The Degree of Dispute Over Liability and Damages
If the parties involved in an accident case dispute liability, the extent of the injuries, or the damages the plaintiff should receive, it can also significantly delay the claim process. If the parties cannot overcome their differences through negotiation, they may need a court to resolve key issues to resume talks.
The Number of Involved Parties
The more parties an accident case involves, the longer it usually takes to settle. Each party, along with their respective insurance companies, lawyers, and other representatives, will likely have their own opinions, demands, and timelines, which can complicate and delay the negotiation process. Reaching a settlement in a case with multiple parties may require mediation or other interventions to facilitate discussions.
The Strategic Delay of Settlement Negotiations
One or more parties may strategically delay entering into or continuing settlement negotiations. Lawyers, insurers, and the involved parties advocate for their own best interests during settlement negotiations, hoping for a favorable resolution.
An insurance company, for instance, might try to slow down the settlement process, hoping that the plaintiff will become desperate for money and accept a lower settlement offer.
A plaintiff, on the other hand, may also want to put the brakes on settlement talks, believing that the ensuing investigation and analysis will likely uncover favorable evidence, strengthening their claim and potentially increasing its value.
Commercial or External Factors
The settlement timeline also depends on commercial and external variables. Situations like corporate policy changes, employee turnover, or current events—such as the COVID-19 pandemic—can extend the time it takes for the parties to reach an agreement.
Why Hiring a Skilled Lawyer Can Maximize Your Accident Settlement
While many factors determine the timeline for an accident settlement, one surefire way to expedite the process and ensure a favorable outcome is to hire a skilled accident lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced accident attorney can handle the claim process efficiently and effectively.
Accident injury lawyers possess a wealth of knowledge that can be instrumental in speeding up an accident settlement. They conduct a thorough investigation, develop a strong legal strategy by analyzing the facts of your case, accurately assess the value of your claim to determine a settlement value, and negotiate with insurers and defense lawyers. They can also navigate legal procedures and meet deadlines to avoid delays to your case.
Experienced accident attorneys are conversant with the tactics insurance companies use to delay settlement negotiations or offer lowball settlements. They can counter these maneuvers and ensure your case progresses without unnecessary delays.
If disagreements arise regarding liability or damages, a seasoned lawyer can effectively advocate on your behalf, reducing the likelihood of negotiation stalemates that can prolong the settlement.
A lawyer’s reputation and track record of success in accident injury cases can accelerate settlement negotiations and improve your odds of a favorable outcome. Liability insurance companies and defense lawyers often settle accident claims out of court to avoid the unpredictability and expense of a trial.
If they know your attorney has a strong reputation for winning cases at trial, they’re likely to negotiate more seriously and promptly to avoid a costly court battle. Hiring a skilled accident attorney is the most effective way to expedite the process.
Other Steps You Can Take to Accelerate a Settlement
Hiring a seasoned accident lawyer is the most effective way to expedite your claim. Other ways you may be able to speed up the process include the following:
Take Care of Yourself
Your health is paramount. Diligently following through with your doctor’s advice and medical treatment plan is crucial to your recovery and also provides a clear and consistent record of your injuries and their effect on your life.
Insurance companies or defense attorneys may question your case and insist on further investigation and analysis if you do not appear to be investing time and effort in your recovery. This can delay a resolution.
Communicate Clearly and Regularly With Your Lawyer
Your lawyer will fight to secure the best possible outcome.
Ensure they know about any pressing financial issues, your goals for a settlement, and any other personal considerations they may need to consider when negotiating a payment on your behalf. An open dialogue with your lawyer enables them to understand your needs, expectations, and priorities and devise the most effective strategy for settling your case.
Hire a Lawyer Promptly
Hire a lawyer as soon as possible after your car accident. A skilled lawyer is the best way to achieve a reasonable settlement offer.
The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the slower the defendant and their insurance company will likely respond to your demand for payment and initiate their investigation, and the more skeptical they’re likely to be of the validity of your claim. Waiting to hire an attorney can complicate your case, making it more challenging to locate and secure evidence supporting your claim.
Talk to a Lawyer Immediately If an Insurer Offers You a Settlement Directly
If an insurer approaches you with a settlement offer directly, do not accept it or sign anything without first talking to your lawyer. Insurance companies sometimes try to finalize claims quickly and cheaply by making these offers, hoping they can tempt you into taking what may seem like easy money.
In reality, any initial offer from an insurance company will likely fall well short of the amount you deserve. A skilled lawyer can negotiate for you and maximize your settlement. Accepting an insurer’s first lowball offer could result in you missing out on fair compensation that adequately covers your losses, current and future medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
Once you accept a car accident settlement offer, it is usually final, and you’re unlikely to have further legal recourse. Get the best deal possible before agreeing to anything. Hiring an experienced lawyer as soon as possible protects your rights during settlement negotiations.
Contact an Experienced Accident Injury Lawyer Today
The timeline of an accident settlement depends on many factors out of your control. Hiring an experienced accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident is the most effective way to expedite the process and increase the likelihood of a favorable settlement.
If your accident settlement is taking longer than you expected, seek legal advice immediately. Contact a seasoned accident injury lawyer today for a free consultation.