Auto Accident Settlement Timeline
Car accidents can cause serious economic distress. In addition to paying large medical bills, many victims are too hurt to return to work, which dramatically reduces their ability to pay their bills. Some auto accident victims struggle to make their mortgage payments and could quickly fall into foreclosure.
Fortunately, many victims can receive a settlement from the motorist who caused the accident. But they all share a common concern: “How long will my car accident settlement take?” The length of time depends on the unique circumstances of your case, though most settlements follow a particular path. Below, we run down through the typical car accident settlement timeline.
Gathering Information At The Accident Scene
When an accident occurs, you might be in shock. However, you need to obtain helpful information if possible. Of course, you might be so injured that all you can do is ask someone to call an ambulance, which is fine. Don’t injure yourself to collect evidence. However, you should do the following if you can (or ask someone else to):
- Swap insurance information with all other drivers involved in the crash
- Get the names and contact information for any witnesses to the collision
- Take pictures of the cars involved in the crash, focusing on the damage on all sides
- Photograph any hazard that contributed to the accident, such as overhanging branches or cars parked on the road
- Call the police to come out and write a police report
If you are too injured to do any of this, then your attorney can help obtain some of this information later. You should always put your health first.
Obtain Medical Treatment
Generally, injuries heal faster the sooner you receive treatment. Any delay could make your problems much more serious. Go to the doctor or hospital and tell them you were involved in a car accident. Remember to:
- Hang onto copies of medical records and test results
- Keep copies of all medical bills and any receipts for prescription drugs or assistive devices
Also, remember to follow your doctor’s advice. If he recommends you stay off your feet, then do that. If you need to participate in rehabilitation or physical therapy, be sure not to miss a single appointment. If you don’t do what your doctor says, then the other driver could claim you are partially to blame for not getting well.
Hire A Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer
A lawyer can streamline the auto accident settlement process. He or she can tackle all the hard issues while allowing you to recover. Our team can:
- Communicate with car insurance agents
- Pull together documentation to show the full extent of your injuries
- Perform a preliminary investigation
Lawyers offer a free consultation, so meet with someone and ask questions before hiring them. Ideally, you will have a lawyer hired within a month of the crash.
Collect Additional Evidence
An insurance company will not agree to pay compensation unless they are convinced their insured is responsible for the accident. You will also need information that shows the full extent of your financial and non-financial losses.
At our firm, we can:
- Gather copies of all medical records to show the seriousness of your injuries.
- Retrieve financial records like bank account balance statements to show how much the accident has cost you financially.
- Interview witnesses to better understand how the accident went down.
- Talk to your family and friends to get a handle on how your life and personality has changed because of your injuries.
- Meet with an expert witness or accident reconstruction expert to analyze how the accident could have unfolded.
We can pull this evidence together in a coherent way to present a compelling case to the insurance company.
This step can take a few months or over a year. It is important to bring a claim at the right time—once our client has reached maximum medical improvement. At that point, he or she will not get better with more medical care, so as attorneys we have a good idea of the full value of the claim.
Engage In Settlement Negotiations
Settlement negotiations usually happen through letters. Your attorney can submit a claim for compensation, which the insurance company usually rejects. The insurer might counteroffer for a lower amount.
Although some cases settle within a day, others take months of tense back and forth. An attorney should be aggressive at obtaining the maximum compensation possible to cover all losses, including pain and suffering and other intangible harms.
A client is always in charge of whether to accept a settlement offer. If you do, then you will need to sign a settlement agreement, which contains a waiver of liability. Once you accept the offer, you cannot sue the defendant for this same accident again, so it is vital you get all the money you can right now.
File A Lawsuit
You might file a lawsuit if settlement negotiations reach a standstill, at which point marching into court is the only way to vindicate your rights.
You could also file earlier in the process, depending on the circumstances. For example, Nevada law gives car accident victims only 2 years from the accident to bring a lawsuit. If you are bumping up against the 2-year deadline, then you might need to file even before beginning negotiations with the insurance company. It is vital to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
Receive Your Compensation
If you settle, then your attorney should get the settlement check. He or she will deduct the agreed fee and costs and then send the remainder to you.
If you go to trial, a jury will decide how much you receive. Ultimately, you need to get the defendant to pay, because a court does not really enforce that. If the defendant has few assets, you might need to garnish his wages or put liens on his property.
Contact Naqvi Law Today
Receiving compensation for an auto accident is a long road, and you should not travel it alone. Naqvi Law is a leader in this field, and we will be happy to meet with you to discuss your options. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We can go into greater detail about the car accident settlement process.