Motor Vehicle Accidents

How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

October 27, 2023
Two male drivers standing outside grey and red vehicles after a front collision road accident daytime

“How long does settlement take?” If you’re making a personal injury claim, chances are you’ve asked this question. And, with good reason – the legal process can seem very complicated. Below, our lawyers explain the steps involved to filing a claim, and how long a car accident settlement normally takes.

How Long Do Car Crash Lawsuits Take to Settle?

Sadly, there’s no straight answer to this question. Some cases settle very quickly – in a few weeks, or a month – and others take more than a year.

  • If it’s obvious who caused the accident, the case might settle quickly. However, liability is often hard to prove without very clear supporting evidence.
  • Do you only have minor injuries and very few losses? Your case might settle in a month or two.
  • If there’s only one accident victim, the case might settle more quickly than if there are multiple parties involved.

The actual settlement process – from accepting an offer to getting the check – can be swift. Often, this part only takes a few weeks. But reaching settlement can take longer.

Car Accident Lawsuit Timeline

Why can it take a while to agree settlement? To answer this question, it helps to consider the steps involved.

  • You start by filing a claim with your own auto insurer. Typically, they have 30 days to respond. Meaning, even simple cases won’t settle any quicker than four weeks or so.
  • Are you injured? We must determine the extent of your injuries. This process can take time – weeks, or months – depending on your prognosis.
  • We can’t value your claim until we know the full extent of your losses. This includes how much time you need off work and vehicle repair costs.
  • It can take weeks or months to gather evidence such as police reports and expert witness testimony.
  • If you’re making a personal injury claim, negotiations take place with the at-fault party’s insurer. These negotiations will most likely take at least a month or two in simple cases. They can take significantly longer in complex cases.

It’s not unusual for claims to take six months or so to resolve.

What Affects How Long Settlement Takes?

Various factors affect how long settlement takes. The most common reasons why settlement might take longer include:

  • The at-fault party won’t admit liability. It may be necessary to instruct expert witnesses or gather additional evidence to prove the case.
  • There are multiple defendants and/or victims. Negotiating with all parties involved can take time.
  • You have serious and/or long-term injuries. Your lawyer may not recommend settling until we know the full extent of the damage. This could take a few months to establish, if not longer.
  • It’s a high-value claim. The insurance company will, most likely, want to review the case carefully before agreeing to pay a high award.
  • You’re claiming for pain and suffering, which is hard to quantify. It may take longer to reach an agreement on what’s fair compensation for pain and suffering.
Side collision between two gray vehicles urban street daytime wheel damage road debris

What if My Case Does Not Settle?

Most car accident claims settle outside of the courtroom. However, some cases do go to trial. This is typically when there are multiple parties involved or the injuries are especially complex.

If a case does go to trial, it could take a year or longer to resolve. There’s also no guarantee the case will settle – the jury may not find in your favor. Do not worry, though. Your attorney will help you understand the pros and cons of going to court if this applies to you.

Can a Car Crash Lawyer Speed Up Settlement?

You may be unsure whether it’s worth hiring a lawyer to help you manage your claim. We understand – lawyers can seem intimidating! We want to assure you, though, that we’re here to help. Here’s how our team can assist you with your car accident case.

  • There are time limits for filing compensation claims. Hiring a lawyer ensures that you won’t miss key deadlines.
  • Insurers may delay settling your claim or paying your check. Your attorney will remain in contact with other parties and do everything possible to move your case forward.
  • Settlement negotiations can be complex. An attorney will ensure that discussions remain focused on key legal issues so there are no unnecessary delays.
  • We know how much your claim is worth. We can advise whether an offer is fair, so you can make an informed decision.

Every car crash claim is different, so we can’t guarantee how long your claim will take to settle. However, our personal injury lawyers can help you progress your case quickly and effectively.

How Long Before I Receive My Settlement Check?

It depends on the case. However, it’s normal to receive a check within four to six weeks of signing the settlement agreement or release. Here’s an overview of the settlement check timeline.

  • First, you agree to accept the insurer’s offer. The case may now proceed to settlement.
  • Before you receive a check, you must sign a settlement agreement. When you sign this, you can’t make any further claims for your injuries or losses. Don’t sign until you’re sure that you’re happy with the offer.
  • The insurer will now prepare a settlement check. This could take a week or two.
  • Once your attorney receives the check, they make any outstanding payments, such as court fees. They also take their pre-agreed contingency fee.
  • Finally, your attorney prepares a fresh check and sends you the net amount of compensation you’re due. It may take two or three weeks to get this check from your lawyer.

There’s no “one” auto accident settlement timeline. Your lawyer will be happy to explain, in more detail, what to expect in your case.

Hire Our Car Accident Attorneys

Lawsuits and insurance claims are complicated. If you’re injured in a crash, you should focus on healing rather than dealing with legal matters.

That’s where our law firm can help. At RF Injury Law, our car crash attorneys will handle negotiations for you. We’ll walk you through the claims process and help you manage your car accident case with ease.

We offer free case evaluations to all prospective clients. Contact us now to discuss a personal injury lawsuit and discover how we can help.

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