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How Long Could It Take to Resolve a Car Crash Claim?

meeting at desk about a legal issueWhen a car crash causes a serious injury, the victim is likely to have expensive medical bills and lost income because he or she is unable to work. This often creates a financial crisis and leaves victims anxious for compensation from a personal injury claim. That is why one of the first questions they have for an attorney is: how long will it take to receive a settlement check?

The answer is different for every claim. There are also many issues that could come up during the process that could cause delays. Sometimes your attorney will need to file a lawsuit to obtain maximum compensation for your damages.

If the insurance company contacts you to attempt to quickly resolve your claim, be careful. Settlements offered early in the process are often for far less than the full value of a claim. The licensed attorneys at TSR Injury Law are committed to resolving your claim quickly, but only for the maximum compensation available.

Call today to schedule a free consultation with a Bloomington auto accident lawyer. No upfront fees or obligations.

What Are the Steps in the Legal Process?

The first step in many personal injury claims is often a consultation with an attorney. This gives the victim a chance to confidentially discuss what happened and learn more about whether there is a valid case. It is important to meet with an attorney that has experience with a variety of car crash cases and a history of positive results.   The insurance companies know who the good law firms are and also know which ones will simply settle for an easy buck.  Quick settlement are often pennies on the dollar of the true value of a case.

Investigation

The next step, if the attorney validates your claim, is an investigation. Your attorney can review the police report, evidence from the scene, witness testimony, medical records, medical bills and other expenses, and anything else relevant to your claim. For example, your attorney may formally request video footage of the crash or consult crash reconstruction experts.

The insurance company will conduct its own investigation to determine if your claim is valid and how much it may be worth. Keep in mind, the insurance company is looking for any reason to deny or devalue your claim. Adjusters and others involved in processing your claim may drag their feet and delay the process.

A common reason for a delay in your claim is the insurance company contesting fault for the crash. They may claim you are entirely to blame, or they may assign you a percentage of fault.  Insurance companies often argue you are at least 10% at fault for just being on the road.   This is not true, but they will always argue anything to limit their exposure.  If you hire an experienced lawyer, he or she can review your claim to determine if you bear any fault for what happened. He or she can also work to try to ensure you are not assigned more fault than you deserve.

Continuing Your Medical Treatment

While the investigation continues, you should continue your medical treatment. That means going to follow-up appointments, meeting with specialists, undergoing tests, following your doctor’s orders about limiting physical activity and other aspects of your recovery.

Claims are usually not resolved until the victim reaches the point of maximum medical improvement. That means the victim must be at a point where treatment is unlikely to cause marked improvement in your injury or the limitations it causes you. Your doctor should determine when you have reached this point. It could take anywhere from a few or several months to a few or several years for your condition to stop improving, or for you to make a full recovery.  You never want to settle your case and then need major medical treatment after for your injuries.

One potential delay in the process is the insurance company requesting an independent medical exam. It is important to discuss these types of requests with a licensed attorney. Independent medical examiners are often picked by the insurance company because they tend to reach conclusions that are favorable to the insurance company.  They are often the opposite of “independent”.

Sending a Demand Letter

When you reach maximum medical improvement, your lawyer can send a demand letter to the insurance company requesting compensation for your damages. At the point of maximum medical improvement your lawyer will be able to calculate the full value of past medical expenses and the estimated value of future medical expenses. Even though future and ongoing treatment may not improve your condition, your lawyer can still request compensation for these expenses.   

The demand package may also include evidence of your injuries and the cause of the crash, such as pictures and video footage.

Negotiation

Once the demand letter is submitted, the insurance company can respond. The response will either be to accept the demand, reject it, or make a counteroffer. This is where negotiation between your lawyer and the insurance company usually begins. Both sides may go back and forth several times before a settlement is agreed upon.

Filing a Lawsuit

If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, your lawyer can file a lawsuit to pursue compensation. Sometimes filing a lawsuit motivates the insurance company to offer fair compensation. However, if the case gets to trial, this could be several months after your lawsuit was filed.  

Discovery

This is when both sides gather evidence to fortify their positions on fault and injury.  This may include written questions and answwrs, in person deposition or review of expert testimony based on the evidence. Both sides also share what they have collected with each other so they can re-evaluate their positions as more evidence come in.

Mediation

This is often the last step before a trial. Both sides meet with a third-party mediator to attempt to resolve the situation.

Trial

Both sides call witnesses and present their case to the jury, and the jury will decide whether to award compensation and how much to award. If your case reaches this point, it could take anywhere from several months to more than a year from the date of the crash for your claim to be resolved.

Often one of the biggest reasons for the process taking a long time is the insurance company dragging its feet or not offering fair compensation.

Call TSR Injury Law to Learn More About the Legal Process

At our firm, we understand victims often have many questions about their claim and how an attorney may be able to assist them. That is why we offer a free, initial legal consultation with no obligation to take legal action.

We have recovered more than $150 million in compensation on behalf of our clients, and this includes many motor vehicle crash victims.

Learn more about how we could help you. Phone: (612) TSR-TIME.

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