If you have never been involved in a serious car accident before, you might be wondering how long it takes to file a car accident lawsuit. While the timeline is different for each individual case, certain factors like the number of vehicles involved and the availability of evidence can either speed up the process or slow it down. For an individualized assessment of your accident case, we recommend speaking with a lawyer in Navasota, TX or Rockville, TX.
Car Accident Lawsuit FAQs: How Long Does the Process Usually Take?
The amount of time it takes to file a lawsuit against a negligent driver varies considerably from case to case. If your case is relatively straightforward and there are no delays, you can expect the issue to be resolved in a few months. However, some cases take as long as a few years. These factors can affect the length of the process:
- How quickly the insurance company responds to your claim
- The amount of time your lawyer needs to spend collecting evidence
- Whether the accident involved multiple vehicles
- If anyone was killed in the accident
- If your injuries could leave you with a lifelong disability
- If a government vehicle was involved in the crash
- How quickly the court can schedule your trial
- The complexity of the trial, including the number of witnesses
Settlement vs. Trial
Many people assume that in order to pursue compensation, they will need to go to court. The thought of spending time and money on a trial can deter some individuals from seeking the payout they are entitled to. In fact, most car accident cases end in a settlement rather than a trial. A settlement is an agreement between you and the liable party’s insurance company in which you decline your right to sue in exchange for a sum of money.
Settling outside of court is one way to reduce the amount of time needed to resolve the case. Depending on the body of evidence in your favor and the amount of money being offered by the insurance company, accepting a settlement may or may not be in your best interests. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company to secure their best offer. He or she will then help you choose between accepting it and filing the lawsuit.
Understanding the Timeline of a Car Accident Lawsuit
How Long Does It Take an Insurance Company to Process a Claim?
Insurance companies are bound by law to process claims in a reasonable amount of time. If you submit a claim, they have 15 days to acknowledge that they have received it and another 15 days to inform you whether or not they have found you eligible for a payout based on the terms of the applicable policy. In the case of an at-fault car accident, you would most likely be filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance.
Sometimes, the insurance company may formally request to extend their investigation by 30 days. If the extension is approved, they will have a total of 45 days to issue a verdict. If you are entitled to a payout, they must send out a check within five business days. Penalties and fines apply when an insurance company is late issuing a payout.
How Long Does It Take to Investigate an Accident?
The investigation phase poses the biggest question mark when it comes to understanding how long the whole process of pursuing compensation will take. If you choose to go to trial, both your attorney and the other side will need time to interview witnesses, access the police report, request medical records, and tap other sources of evidence. By law, additional time must be spent investigating accidents that involve fatalities and/or government vehicles.
In addition to conducting their own investigations, the lawyers participate in a “discovery phase,” during which they exchange evidence. The amount of time the investigations and the discovery phase takes depends on various factors, including the availability of witnesses and the promptness with which the hospital can respond to requests for medical records.
How Long Does a Trial Take?
Once you have a court date, the actual trial can take between one week and several months. In general, cases involving more than two parties, extensive damage, and numerous witnesses take more time, while cases involving a two-vehicle crash and a wealth of evidence on one side can be argued more quickly.
How Long Does It Take to Receive a Payout?
If the court issues a verdict in your favor, you will most likely have the money in hand within six weeks. The check will go to your lawyer, who will process it on your behalf.
When your lawyer processes the check, he or she will send out money to pay any liens on the settlement, including medical bills. Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and will deduct their legal fees from the payout after the case has been won as opposed to asking their clients to pay a flat fee out of pocket. After the check has been processed, the balance will be forwarded to you, concluding the whole process.
Does Spending More Time Lead to a Bigger Payout?
Sometimes, yes. You might find that the initial offer you receive from an insurance company is too small to cover your medical expenses. Often, the first offer is not the best. Your lawyer can help you make sure you have added up your total cost of treatment and any other damages you are entitled to, such as pain and suffering. If you missed time from work, your lost wages should be reflected in the settlement, too.
By taking time to review their settlement offer and negotiate for more money if necessary, many claimants are able to increase their payout significantly. If the insurance company refuses to issue a reasonable offer, your lawyer may recommend that you invest some time into going to court.
How Can I Pay My Medical Bills Before Receiving the Payout?
Individuals who are concerned about paying for their medical expenses in the interim are often able to arrange for the hospital to defer payment until after the settlement is received. Usually, the claimant’s own health insurance will pay the bills initially. If the case is won, they will seek reimbursement from the liable party.
Get a Full Overview of the Legal Process
For more information on how long your case may take, we would like to offer you a free consultation. During the consultation, we will answer any questions you may have about submitting a claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit. We look forward to meeting you and discussing your options.
We Provide Legal Expertise in Navasota, TX and Rockville, TX
Whether your case takes two months or two years, we will fight to get you the settlement you need to pay your medical bills, cover your lost wages, and compensate you for the disruption in your life. For more information on the services we offer in Navasota, TX and Rockville, TX, contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer.