How Long Does a Car Settlement Take?

Christopher Ligori
Christopher Ligori. / Photo courtesy Christopher Ligori & Associates.

Christopher Ligori

Every car accident is different, but many people are affected in ways that they never expected. Not only do you have to deal with physical injuries and financial damages from your wreck — but there’s also the stress of wanting compensation from the person who may have negligently caused the accident.

If filing a claim sounds like something you might want to pursue down the line — knowing how long these things typically take can help you plan accordingly.

​​Some cases are resolved quickly, while others might take longer before a fair settlement can be reached. Each case varies depending on a range of variables.

What Affects How Long a Car Accident Settlement Takes?

The insurance company will often try to reduce its liability by estimating how long it would take to settle. The victim needs money now, so they appeal to this need by persuading them to accept a low-ball settlement.

A low-ball amount may seem fair at first, but things change quickly when you factor in medical expenses and lost wages. It’s important not to sign a settlement offer without first engaging the services of a car accident lawyer.

For any legal matter, there are many different variables that affect how much time is required before reaching a resolution. However, an experienced car accident lawyer can analyze the variables and estimate how long a case may take to resolve. Typically, a personal injury attorney will consider the following:

  • Who is at fault?
  • How bad are the injuries sustained?
  • What is the extent of the damage sustained to the vehicle, and will you be claiming non-economic damages?
  • Is the insurance company cooperating?

Who is at Fault?

Even in the most straightforward accidents, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault. There are cases where both parties will claim they had permission from the traffic light or right of way laws for their actions that led to the car accident. So, until an investigation is completed to determine who was at fault, a car accident claim can’t be settled. The insurance company won’t be sympathetic until they know for sure that their client can afford a settlement.

In Colorado, the degree of fault is a factor in determining how much compensation you receive. In other words, if you were partially at fault, you’ll be partially liable for the damages. For example, suppose you were found to be 7% to blame for the accident and your injuries, then you would be liable to cover 7% of the damage costs.

And if you were found to be 50% at fault, you won’t be eligible to receive any compensation.

Determining fault can seem simple, but insurance companies frequently dispute fault even in seemingly straightforward cases. A car accident lawyer can help you establish all the factors that go into determining who was at fault.

How Bad are the Injuries?

Another factor that’ll affect how long an accident claim takes to settle is the extent of your injuries. Unless your injuries have been properly evaluated by a medical professional, you won’t have an idea of what a fair settlement entails.

For example, will your injuries require long-term treatment? Do you need surgery? Do you need to consult a specialist? If so, how would this impact your medical bills going forward?

Generally, ​​the more severe your injury is, the longer it’ll take to assess the damages.

What is the Extent of the Damage Sustained to the Vehicle, and Will You Be Claiming Non-economic Damages?

If you’re only interested in claiming the costs of repairing the damages to your vehicle, the settlement period is generally a lot shorter.

However, suppose you’re interested in claiming non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life. In that case, this consideration will substantially impact your timeline because these amounts are difficult to quantify.

Is the Insurance Company Cooperating?

Besides the damages you seek to claim, whether an insurance company cooperates is likely to impact how long it takes to settle your car accident claim. Insurance companies often delay car accident claims for various reasons.

However, if your insurance company acts in good faith, you’re likely to resolve the case a lot quicker.

Key Takeaways

It’s important to remember that car accident settlements aren’t always straightforward. The process can take a long time, and there are many factors that may impact the outcome of your settlement and how long it takes.

To get an idea of how much compensation you may be entitled to and how long it’s going to take to settle your claim, it’s best to speak with a qualified lawyer who has experience dealing with these cases before going forward on your own or signing any documents without legal counsel.

Disclaimer: This article is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the article publisher. The article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Christopher Ligori, founding partner at Christopher Ligori & Associates, has been practicing law since 1994 and has tried over 100 jury trials to verdict.

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