One of the most common questions we receive from prospective clients is, How long does it take to get a settlement from a car accident in California? Unfortunately, there’s not a specific timeline or average that we can share with you. Every case differs, and so does the claim timeline. If you have questions about how long a car accident claim takes to settle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the legal team at Beliz Law Firm.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?
The timeline to resolve a car accident claim varies from person to person. Individual factors mean your case could settle in two months or two years. Read on to learn more.
Factors Impacting the Duration of a California Car Accident Settlement
Some of the most influential factors in your case include the severity of your injuries, liability disputes, and insurance company negotiations. Here’s how each of these impacts your settlement timeline.
Injury Type and Severity
Your injuries play a significant role in how quickly your case might resolve. The more severe your injuries, the longer you are likely under a physician’s care. Severe injuries often involve lengthy recovery periods. Trying to resolve your case too early could result in missed compensation. Consider an example where you settle your claim but your doctor says you need additional surgery. If you have already settled and signed a release, you can’t go back and try to negotiate for more money.
Severe injuries also translate to a greater amount of damages. The insurance adjuster will scrutinize your damages even more when your case could be worth a significant amount. Some adjusters prefer to take their chances with a jury rather than settle for a fair amount.
Before negotiations begin, your attorney must gather evidence and documentation to support your claim. This evidence includes medical records, photographs, witness statements, and police reports. The time it takes to collect and review all necessary evidence will vary depending on the case’s complexity and the parties’ availability. A delay in obtaining essential evidence means negotiations will start later.
Disputes Over Liability
Liability disputes are a big hangup in most California car accident cases because California is a comparative negligence state. Your compensation will be reduced if you are partially at fault for the accident. The reduction correlates to your percentage of fault. That means the insurance company can save money for any additional liability they can attribute to you.
In some cases, the parties involved in a car accident may dispute who is at fault. You’ll need additional investigation and evidence collection when the insurance company contests liability. Your attorney might need to hire an accident constructionist to confirm the mechanics of the accident. All this can extend the time it takes to negotiate a settlement.
Insurance Company Negotiations
In general, negotiations with insurance companies can be a lengthy process. Some insurance companies will use delay tactics or offer a lowball figure in hopes you walk away. Your attorney may need to present additional evidence, argue for a higher compensation amount, and engage in multiple rounds of negotiation before reaching an agreement.
If you cannot reach an agreement on a fair settlement through negotiations, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. Litigation can be time-consuming and may extend the duration of your case by several months or even years. Usually you have two (2) years from the date of the accident to resolve your case or file a lawsuit. There are incidents involving governmental entities that may shorten the time to six (6) months or accidents involving a minor child that could lengthen the statutory time to two (2) years past the age of 18 years old. Once in litigation with the courts, the time may take another year or more to resolve the conflict between you and the other’s insurance company.
Once You Settle: Receiving the Check
Receiving payment will still take a few weeks or more. First, you have to receive and sign the release of all claims. The insurance company will process it and then issue the final settlement check.
If you have an attorney representing you, the settlement check will be sent to your attorney. Before you receive your portion of the settlement, your attorney will deduct their fees, any liens, and other case-related expenses. Your attorney should provide you with a detailed statement outlining these deductions. Once all costs and liens are satisfied, your attorney will send you the remaining proceeds.
What to Do If It’s Taking Too Long to Receive Your Settlement?
If you’re asking, Why is my car accident settlement taking so long? you aren’t alone. Even once you settle, insurance companies can delay the process. That’s one of the many reasons we recommend hiring a California car accident lawyer. If you feel that your case is taking an unreasonably long time to resolve, remember to:
- Keep in touch with your attorney and express your concerns about the timeline of your case.
- Ask your attorney for a general timeline of when they expect the case to be resolved. While this is not a guarantee, it can help you better understand the process and set realistic expectations.
- If negotiations with the insurance company are taking longer than expected, discuss the possibility of alternative dispute resolution methods with your attorney.
- Discuss filing a lawsuit with your attorney if negotiations are at a standstill and you believe your case merits a higher settlement.
If you still need to find an attorney, start researching now. You have only limited time to file a lawsuit in California.
Contact Beliz Law Firm
When you’re injured in a car accident, consider hiring a skilled lawyer that handles car accidents. If you’re researching answers to questions like, How long does it take to get a settlement from a car accident in California? contact Beliz Law Firm. Attorney Michael Beliz has nearly two decades of experience assisting injured victims in California. He knows insurance companies’ tactics to delay settlement and undervalue your case. Let our firm protect your rights and help you obtain fair compensation as quickly as possible. Schedule an initial consultation to learn more.