Why Is My Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?
When a car accident occurs, expenses can build up quickly. Medical bills pile up, and drivers often have to find an alternative mode of transportation if their vehicle has been severely damaged. Therefore, for these reasons and more, the victims of a car accident may be wondering: "Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?"
Those who have been in a car accident are often eager to put the incident behind them, which is why they may be impatient to reach a settlement. However, a legal process must be followed when handling a personal injury case, and insurance companies have proceedings of their own that must be followed before a settlement may be reached.
Anyone who has recently been the victim of a car accident that was not their fault should contact a personal injury lawyer from Powell Law Firm today for a free consultation. An experienced attorney can help victims deal with unreasonable insurance companies and handle personal injury cases, both in and out of court.
Determining Liability in a Car Accident Case
The truth is that not all car accidents qualify as personal injury claims. Personal injury claims may only be made once a victim has proved that the other driver was negligent. In order to prove negligence in a car accident case, four elements need to be established.
1. Duty of Care
The first element involves proving that the driver at fault was responsible for ensuring the victim's safety while on the road. This is known as a duty of care. Proving a duty of care in a car accident case is usually fairly simple because all drivers have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road, drive within the speed limit, and ensure that their vehicle is roadworthy.
2. Breach of Duty
Next, a victim must prove that the at-fault driver breached his duty of care by neglecting to drive safely. This may involve driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving over the speed limit, or ignoring traffic laws.
The next element that must be proved in personal injury cases is that the breach of duty led to the accident. This often involves supplying a great deal of evidence, which a personal injury lawyer must gather.
Finally, a victim’s lawyer must prove that the auto accident resulted in a victim suffering damages, including economic damages, such as medical expenses, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Simply determining liability in personal injury cases can take a long time, as an attorney must prove these four elements. This is especially true if multiple people were involved in the accident. Fortunately, victims of car accidents can rely on Powell Law Firm to effectively prove liability and obtain the maximum car accident settlement. Contact the firm today for a free consultation and a free case evaluation!
What Must Occur Before an Initial Offer May Be Made
Three things usually need to occur before an insurance company makes the first settlement offer.
1. Injured Parties Must Reach Maximum Medical Improvement
Victims must receive medical treatment for their injuries before any settlement may be reached in a personal injury case. Personal injury claims are made of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the financial damages or expenses that a victim may have suffered following a car accident.
When a victim's physical condition cannot be improved anymore or when a plateau is reached in the victim's recovery process, this is referred to as the maximum medical improvement. While the victim may require extra treatment, this is the best recovery they are expected to achieve.
If future surgeries or other medical treatments or procedures are required and have not yet been scheduled, an accident lawyer can request a cost estimate from a doctor. The reality is that this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year.
2. Records Must Be Compiled
No insurance company settles until they have seen clear evidence that their client was negligent, and that the victim incurred damages in the form of physical injuries and lost wages as a direct result of the car crash.
All health records and medical bills, as well as any physician's reports for future lost earnings and medical expenses, must be acquired before a claim may be filed. A car accident attorney must gather all the victim's health records as proof of their expenses if the matter is resolved quickly without a lawsuit.
These medical records are extremely important. An accident claim settlement is almost entirely based on the victim's medical data. At this point, the most important factor used by insurance companies to assess value is how these records depict the victim's physical injuries. For instance, this is the average payout for nerve damage due to a car accident if the injury was proven in their medical records.
The timeline for this varies depending on the quantity of medical data that needs to be obtained and the number of reports that are required. This can take anywhere from a few days to several months.
Gathering Other Evidence
Evidence is needed to show that someone was at fault for the car accident that resulted in a victim's injuries and to show the extent of those injuries. This requires a competent legal team to begin an investigation and acquire evidence. In addition to medical records, the following evidence must also be obtained:
A police report
Photographs from the accident scene
Records of previous infringements by the driver at fault
Information regarding the victim's employment status and lost wages
Bills for the repair of the vehicle and other damaged property
It takes time to thoroughly examine the circumstances of a personal injury case and determine what evidence is required to prove culpability and damages. In general, the more evidence a car accident lawyer has at his disposal when doing this assessment, the more likely a positive car accident settlement is. By gathering as much evidence as possible about the incident and the damages incurred, victims can assist their attorney and essentially cut down on the time it takes to compile this evidence.
3. The Insurance Company Needs Time to Respond to the Demand
When a claim for personal injury is filed, a car accident lawyer submits a letter of demand to the negligent party or their insurance company detailing their demands for a settlement. It can take anywhere from 15 to 90 days for an insurance company to respond to a claim.
Additionally, insurance companies also have their own procedures and need time to analyze the details of the demand.
Insurance Companies Conduct Investigations of Their Own
Insurance adjusters are responsible for investigating cases before a reasonable settlement can be reached. They often visit the site where the accident occurred, talk to witnesses and review the footage from security cameras to verify that their client was the one at fault.
Delays in Paying a Settlement Check
Once a settlement has been reached, some insurance companies tend to take their time paying the settlement amount.
St Louis car accident lawyers at Powell Law Firm keep a close eye on the insurance company to ensure that victims receive their settlement money as quickly as possible. The organization understands that victims need their money as soon as possible for settling their medical bills and paying for their living expenses.
As a result, Powell Law attorneys follow up regularly with the insurance to encourage them to issue the insurance check without delay. Book a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today!
Settling a Personal Injury Claim Out of Court
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. If an insurance company offers an unfair car accident settlement amount, any good lawyer rejects it and offers a counter offer. Rejected car accident settlement offers are no longer on the table. Thus a claimant cannot change his or her mind later. Instead, the claimant can make a counteroffer that he or she believes is reasonable, and the insurance company can choose to accept or reject it.
This must be done by submitting a written rejection letter that includes pertinent facts about why their settlement offer was inadequate and why the counteroffer is more suitable. Proof such as lost pay, proof of long-term disability, and ongoing medical bills must be included with the denial letter.
The truth is that victims of car accidents who wish to get the highest possible settlement often have to wait longer to receive their settlement checks as offers go back and forth between lawyers and insurance companies.
When a Claim Leads to a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The majority of the time, car accident cases under the Missouri car accident laws do not go to trial, and a competent, experienced attorney avoids a trial for several reasons.
A good lawyer knows how much an accident claim is worth in terms of car damage and medical expenses and lawyers understand that a jury's verdict is often unpredictable. Therefore, attorneys often strive to have cases settled out of court.
However, there are situations when one side decides that they do not wish to settle. This may be because this party does not accept blame for the accident or believes that the other party has not requested a fair settlement amount. If this occurs, the case is taken to trial.
When a case goes to trial, this slows down the settlement process significantly. It is fairly uncommon for a car accident trial to be concluded within a year after the accident occurs because courts are often busy, and presenting a case to a jury and judge takes time.
Settlement Amounts Influence How Long It Takes to Settle
Claimants can expect a quick settlement if their losses are only a few thousand dollars. In these cases, a lawyer may be able to reach a fair settlement in a couple of weeks, with little or no negotiation on both sides.
However, when a claimant's injuries are severe and may lead to permanent disabilities as well as substantial life-altering consequences, the acceptable amount of damages often increases substantially. The more damages a victim claims following a vehicle accident injury, the more attention the case receives from the insurance company.
An insurance company is also more likely to contest the care accident case. It takes time to address any issues raised by the insurance company and respond to any counter-arguments made in an attempt to exonerate itself of part or all liability.
Likewise, the larger the monetary worth of the alleged damages, the more likely it is to go to trial. This also adds to the length of time it takes to reach a settlement.
Other Reasons Why a Settlement May Be Taking Too Long
If insurance companies are dealing with multiple victims, it may take them a lot longer to conclude the case. Additionally, a lack of evidence may be slowing down the process.
Although it is a lawyer's job to gather evidence on a claimant's behalf, it can greatly speed up the process if victims help by submitting any photographic evidence they may have obtained and being honest and upfront with their attorney.
Claimants often blame their lawyers when their case takes a long time to settle. The truth is that this may be the case. Lawyers who have taken on more cases than they can handle often end up making their clients wait. It may be time to switch to a new lawyer!
Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
Ensuring that claimants get the compensation they deserve starts with choosing the right legal representation. Powell Law Firm can help victims submit their insurance claim timeously while still ensuring that they receive fair compensation for their damages.
While a settlement can take a long time, the reality is that those who settle early may not receive the settlement that they deserve. Attorneys know how much money injured victims need to cover both current and future medical care, and rushing the settlement process can result in a lower settlement.
The attorneys at Powell Law Firm pride themselves on maintaining an excellent attorney-client relationship with every client that walks through their doors because they know how harrowing the experience of taking legal action against an at-fault party can be. Powell Law Firm's knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can walk victims through the settlement process. Contact the firm today for a free consultation!