As with any legal question, the answer to this depends on many factors and will differ for each person. It can be very frustrating not knowing how long your claim will take and you may feel as if you are in limbo waiting to hear the outcome. However, it is important that you not rush to settle out of fear or frustration. Often, a victim is awarded much less than the claim is worth because he is anxious to get it over with. If your case has some complicating factors—such as questions of liability or catastrophic injury—you can expect it to take longer, but the wait will be worth it in the long run.
Simple Cases Settle Quickly
A clear-cut case usually does not require an attorney and will be resolved within a matter of months. Factors that simplify a claim include:
- Solid evidence of total liability. If the fault of the other driver is clearly established through a traffic citation or police testimony and there is no question of comparative negligence, the case should settle quickly.
- Medical damages are clearly established. If the insurance adjuster agrees that submitted medical bills are reasonable and validated by the injuries and the amount of money involved is fairly small, there would be no need to drag out the claim.
- The insurance company is not backed up with claims. Often even simple claims are delayed just because the insurance company has a backlog of claims to consider. Sometimes, small, independent insurers are quicker to settle claims than large carriers.
Factors That Complicate and Delay Claims
Unfortunately, not many claims meet the criteria above for a quick resolution. If there are any questions about liability or medical damages in your case, your first move should be to hire an experienced car accident attorney to represent you. Once you have an attorney on your case, the complicating factors will be dealt with in a way that benefits your case. Some common factors that delay and complicate car crash claims include:
- Serious injuries. When damage claims are high due to the medical costs of treating a serious injury, the insurance company will always investigate and demand justification for every treatment cost. With injuries such as spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injury, your attorney may delay in order to discover the full scope of the injury and potential long-term costs. There are options for paying your bills in the meantime and holding out for the maximum possible settlement will be well worth it in the long run.
- Conservative insurance carriers. Some large carriers have a policy of offering low settlements and forcing victims to fight for more money. These companies have lawyers on staff and employ them to fight claims on a regular basis. These delay tactics can drag out your case for years, especially if you don’t have an aggressive attorney on your side.
- Unclear or multiple liability. If the circumstances of the crash create cloudy liability issues, the defendant’s lawyer or insurance company will use those questions to deny your claim and put off your settlement. Your attorney may use expert testimony, find witnesses to the crash to interview, or use a variety of other methods to prove liability. There may also be other potentially liable parties, such as a government entity responsible for poor lighting, signage, or road design. Going after these parties will also take time—but could pay off.
- Taking a claim to trial. If your attorney cannot get the insurance company to agree to the settlement you deserve, he may decide to take your case to trial. Gathering evidence, securing witnesses, waiting for hearings and depositions, and waiting for a trial date can add months to your wait time. It’s important to trust your attorney throughout this process.
If your car crash claim has any of these complicating factors, it may be several years before you see any money. Be sure to ask your attorney questions along the way so that you understand what you are waiting for.
Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys Want to Hear Your Story
If your car accident is turning out to not be a clear-cut case with a quick settlement, call our office to speak to one of our attorneys. We will listen to your story and tell you what we can do for you.