Television shows and movies about attorneys and law firms usually show their characters trying cases in court. This is because trials make for good drama, not because it’s realistic to show lawyers going to the courthouse every day.
In the real world, most personal injury cases settle out of court, reducing legal costs after a serious car accident and avoiding discussing your business in a public forum. At the same time, you probably should not expect the insurance company to agree immediately to a fair settlement. Rather than days or weeks, most motor vehicle accident claims take months. It’s not uncommon for a claim to take nine to 18 months to resolve.
Reasons why an accident settlement takes time
This is partly because filing a complete and compelling car wreck claim to the insurance company can take time. Steps include:
- Gathering as much evidence from the accident scene as you can, such as photographs of the damage to your car, witness statements and the police report.
- Getting your injuries diagnosed and beginning treatment.
- Finding out the extent of the damage to your car.
- Determining the total damages you have suffered due to the other driver’s negligence, such as your related medical costs and lost past and future wages while your recover.
- Writing a demand letter to the insurance company asking it to compensate you for the harm you suffered.
However, the negotiation is often the longest part of the settlement process. When dealing with a potentially large claim, claims adjusters will tend to do everything possible to avoid a reasonable settlement. Delaying is a common tactic. Though adjusters cannot ignore your claim forever, they can spend months investigating and won’t always respond promptly when you call or write for an update.
Putting experience in your corner
Patience generally is required. However, working with a personal injury attorney can speed things up. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows all the insurance industry’s tricks — and how to counteract them. Most of all, retaining an attorney can greatly increase the amount of your settlement.