A car accident can result in physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial hardship to a victim. If you were recently injured in a car accident that was caused, in whole or in part, by another party you may be entitled to compensation for all of the injuries caused by the collision. Understandably, you will likely have a number of questions about the claim process, chief among them “How long will it take to settle my auto accident claim?” Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to that question given the unique nature of a motor vehicle accident; however, a better understanding of the claim process itself may give you some idea how long it will take before you receive your settlement.
One of the biggest mistakes victims of an auto accident make is to rush the settlement process and/or accept the first offer made by the negligent party’s insurance company. The insurance adjusters know that a victim has likely lost income as a result of the accident and is, therefore, vulnerable to a “low-ball” offer to settle. Though it may be tempting to take any amount offered by an adjuster when you are financially strapped, working with an experienced personal injury attorney and holding out for a settlement amount that fully compensates you is in your best interests.
Before settlement negotiations can even begin for any personal injury accident the victim must complete treatment for his/her injuries. This is known as reaching “maximum medical improvement”, or MMI. MMI does not necessarily mean all your injuries are healed, but that you have reached the point at which further treatment will not significantly improve your situation. Only then can your attorney thoroughly evaluate the value of your injuries and make a reasonable demand for settlement. Prior to this point it is difficult to determine what your case is worth because your treating physicians have not finished treating you and, therefore, have not submitted a narrative explaining your injuries, diagnosis, and future prognosis. Without all of that you have very little negotiating power.
Once you have reached MMI, you and your attorney will sit down and discuss the value of your case, including your physical and emotional injuries, lost wages, property damage, and anything else that is potentially compensable. Your attorney will then send a demand package to the other party’s insurance company which will then lead to settlement negotiations. From that point, the parties will go back and forth until a mutually agreeable settlement is reached in most cases. This could take weeks, or months. If it appears that a settlement is not forthcoming, your attorney will close down negotiations and discuss taking the case to trial with you.
As you can see, there is no “standard” time frame for settling an auto accident claim. The most important factors in determining how long yours will take is when you reach MMI and how long the negotiations process takes. If you have additional questions or concerns, contact the Lake Charles personal injury attorneys at Broussard & Hart, LLC.