If you were injured in a car accident, it is understandable that you would want to recover compensation as quickly as possible. How long a car accident claim takes to settle depends on several factors. Some factors are in your control, and some are not. Two of the biggest factors are the severity of your injuries and the length of treatment. You want to wait until your treatment is complete before you seek a settlement. Once your treatment is complete, advise your attorney immediately so they can request your final medical records and billing to prepare the settlement demand package. Each step takes some time so try to be patient and know that your attorneys have your best interests in mind. This article will help you understand what is involved in car accident claims and why it is difficult to predict how long receiving a settlement will take.
How to Know if You Are Entitled to Damages
You are only entitled to damages for a specific period of time. In most personal injury and wrongful death cases, according to South Carolina Code § 15-3-530, you have three years to file a lawsuit. By not filing within three years, you give up your right to damages.
If you do file a timely lawsuit, what can you ask for? That will depend on the damages and injuries you suffered due to the accident.
Economic damages serve as compensation for the money you had to spend because of the accident. This may include money spent on car repair bills or medical bills and money lost when you were unable to work because of your injuries.
Noneconomic damages serve as compensation for injuries you sustained because of the accident and the consequences of those injuries. This can refer to physical wounds, such as broken bones and the physical therapy you might need to heal from them. However, these damages may also refer to mental damage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.
If you suffered any of the above injuries, you could be entitled to damages.
For a free legal consultation, call 864-326-3333
Recovering Damages Involves Preparation and Negotiation
Before you file a lawsuit, you must know who the liable party or parties are. This may be the other driver, a manufacturer, a maintenance company, or someone else. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most car accidents result from driver error.
A lawyer may conduct an investigation to identify all liable parties so that they can be held accountable for their actions. You can file a lawsuit for damages by alerting all of the liable parties about your suit. You—or your lawyer, if you have one—will then sit down with the liable party’s insurance company and try to come to an agreement about how much money you are entitled to receive for your damages.
Insurance companies often do not want to pay the accident victim any more than they can get away with. Your lawyer may have to do quite a bit of negotiating and submit strong evidence in support of your claim before the insurance company will offer what you want.
All of this takes time. If you come to the negotiating table well prepared with lots of supporting evidence, this may speed up negotiations. If your case is complicated (e.g., there is more than one liable party) or if the insurance company is stubborn, negotiations could take longer.
What to Do if the Liable Party Will Not Settle
Settling out of court can be cheaper and less stressful than going to court, and you may get your money faster. Insurance companies also want the case to end as quickly as possible, which is why they frequently offer settlements.
Still, there is a crucial difference between you and the insurance company: you want an offer that covers your damages, and they want to offer an amount that will not delve into their profits. Their initial offer might not factor your total losses but the minimum coverage requirement, as stated in the insurance policy. You should be prepared to do some negotiating or wait while your lawyer negotiates on your behalf.
If the insurance company does not offer a sufficient settlement amount to cover your damages, your attorney will recommend you to file suit. By filing suit the insurance companies understand that this matter is more serious and they know that they might be going to court. The insurance company has the right to ‘act in good faith’ by offering a fair settlement. If they do not, this can be used against them in court in order to receive a higher ruling amount. Insurance companies know this and will typically offer a higher settlement or recommend for a mediation. In a mediation, a mediator will attempt to help both parties come to an agreement to settle the case for a price both parties see as fair.
If you go to court, trials can be long and complicated. You will have to prove that you are entitled to compensation in front of a judge and jury. This may involve locating and questioning witnesses, submitting evidence to the court, and other legal preparations. If you hire an attorney, they can handle your case for you. That said, while a lawyer’s knowledge of laws and legal procedures can make the process smoother, the trial may still take time.
We understand that if you are anxious about how long a car accident claim takes to settle, you probably have many more questions. If you would like professional help with getting a car accident settlement, call Hammack Law Firm at 864-326-3333. We will do everything in our power to get you the compensation you need.
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To get started with our Greenville personal injury law firm, please simply contact us online or call 864-326-3333 for a free consultation.