Have you or your loved one suffered an injury after a car accident? The at-fault driver's insurance should pay for damages such as medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and disability. However, compensation isn't always forthcoming. The process can take months, sometimes even years, depending on the nature of the claim. Knowing this early can help you endure the process. Below are some key factors that may affect the length of the claims process.
Severity of the Injuries
Most lawyers advise clients to wait for the completion of treatment before calculating car accident damages. If you suffered severe injuries that take long to heal, the claims process might take longer. Failure to wait for recovery can lead to under-compensation, especially if new symptoms appear after settlement.
However, in cases where treatment is long, a medical expert can help quantify the treatment. These include disability treatment, therapy, and treatment for mental conditions such as PTSD. It's important to avoid settling if you haven't determined the severity of your physical and mental injuries.
Complexity of the Case
Complex auto injury cases may take longer to resolve. If you incurred minimal injuries and don't have additional damages such as lost wages, the process may take a shorter period. However, cases that involve issues such as wrongful death, multiple claims, pre-existing conditions, or mental injury may take longer. For example, in the case of a pre-existing medical condition, both parties may want to engage medical experts to determine the extent to which the accident aggravated the illness.
Cooperation of the Insurance Company
The liable insurance company may fail to cooperate during the settlement. They can deny the claim, try to pin liability on you, or reduce your compensation. These issues arise due to:
- Failure to seek immediate treatment after the accident
- Partial liability for the car accident
- Late filing of the auto insurance claim
- Delayed accident symptoms
- Claims exceeding maximum coverage of the at-fault party
If the insurance firm fails to cooperate or disputes your claim, the process may take longer. Luckily, you can involve a third party arbitrator to resolve the matter and get a fast settlement.
Settlement vs. Trial
Settlements can take a few weeks to be effected, especially if the insurance company cooperates. However, if the matter goes to trial, it can take several months. Once your claim goes to trial, both parties have to follow due process. The more the issues, witnesses, evidence, and arguments, the longer the case will take. Luckily, most of these cases are settled before going to trial.
The above issues determine the length of the claims and settlement process. Consult an auto accident attorney to help speed up the process.