Sitting around and waiting for your case to settle can be frustrating. It may feel as though you are not being prioritized, or that you’ve been forgotten, but that is not the case. Asking, “Why is this taking so long?” is valid but cannot be easily answered.
The process of settling a case is complex, intricate, and includes many working parts that take time. In some cases, a car accident claim may have to go to court because both parties cannot reach an agreement. This can make the whole process even longer. An important fact to remember is that every case is unique; therefore, the amount of time it takes for a case to settle is unique. Although easier said than done, it is important to stay as patient as possible when waiting for your settlement.
Why Do Car Accident Settlements Take Such a Long Time?
A few factors go into why car accident settlements take so long, such as the amount of money, negotiations, and collection of evidence. Understanding these factors doesn’t just help you recognize why a settlement takes so long, it can also help you predict how long yours can take.
The Severity of the Case
The most important thing to remember is that the more catastrophic your case is, the longer it will take to settle. A case with minor injuries or little damage will be a quicker settlement; within a couple of months, you should have a settlement check in your hand. However, it can take much longer if your case involves major, life-altering injuries.
According to Pennsylvania law, a serious injury is considered one of the following:
- Permanent disfigurement
- A serious impairment of a body function, such as blindness or hearing loss
If you are severely injured in an accident, it can take quite some time to completely understand the full extent of your injuries and their long-term effects. Chances are, you will want to reach the Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), or the point of best recovery, before going further in your case. For example, if you happen to injure your back in an accident, you will want to wait to see how your treatment plan progress, as well as see if you have any chronic pain that stems from the accident before settling. This is done to make sure all your expenses stemming from your injuries are fully compensated.
It is important to note that the more severe your case is, the bigger your settlement can be. If you have life-altering injuries after the accident, like chronic pain or even a physical alteration, you will be entitled to a higher sum of compensation. This will make insurance companies want to negotiate more with you and will therefore stretch out the process more.
The process of proving liability can be difficult, and therefore can slow down your case. Your car accident attorney wants to make sure to identify all parties liable in your case. In the case of a car accident, the most liable party is the driver at-fault. The most common basis for a liability case is negligence. You and your attorney will prove that the driver at fault was negligent, and therefore liable, by demonstrating:
- Every driver has a legal responsibility to keep everyone safe from harm. Therefore, drivers have a duty to drive cautiously on the road.
- But when a driver acts in a careless manner, such as going too fast or texting while driving, then they are negligent of their duty.
- The driver’s negligence resulted in an accident.
- The accident caused damage to you, such as injuries and property damage.
Basically, your car accident lawyer will use a sort of “step-by-step” method, going through these steps, starting at proving the simplest action — the driver had a duty to drive responsibly — and slowly build up to prove how their driving affected you. For example, if you have a drunk driving accident case, your injury attorney will first prove that the driver had a duty to be sober while driving, but since they weren’t, and driving under the influence is what caused the accident, this caused an injury and loss of your vehicle.
To create a solid case and to prove liability, your injury lawyer must show that this accident caused damage to you and your loved ones. To effectively back up your case, the evidence must be collected to prove that damage was done in the car accident. Examples of some of the data that will be collected include:
- The police report
- Pictures of damage to the vehicle as well as your injuries
- Witness statements
- The other driver’s driving history
- Medical records and bills
- Bills from the auto repair shop
- Proof of lost wages
Defense attorneys and insurance companies will look for anything and everything they can to disprove your car accident claim. Therefore, it is important to document absolutely everything when building a case, starting from the very beginning. It will help you in the long run and will make your case stronger and easier to settle. Having more evidence than necessary is better than not having enough.
As stated earlier, the defense and insurance companies can give you a hard time with your case. Sometimes, the insurance companies will refuse to settle or drag out the process as long as possible. The defense will also try to delay as well. Especially in a solid case that will result in a large settlement, the defense wants to slow things down to help their client. Therefore, having a personal injury lawyer with experience in all types of car accident claims is important; your lawyer will negotiate and argue to help respond to these delays and make sure you reach your settlement.
Receiving Your Settlement
After your case is settled, you will, unfortunately, must do more waiting. The check does not come to you immediately; instead, it goes to your attorney, who will distribute the check to pay for any bills or other fees, and then you will receive your car accident settlement.
The process of a car accident settlement can be frustrating, tedious, and long. This sitting around and waiting may put some people off from filing a claim in the first place. Although it is understandable at how frustratingly slow the process is, it is important to get your case started as soon as possible after the accident. The sooner you speak with an experienced car accident lawyer, the more likely your settlement will come quicker.
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has been settling personal injury cases for over 60 years. With our experienced, reliable team of attorneys, we work hard to make sure you get your car accident settlement. We will fight for you and your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, make sure to contact us today for a free consultation.