When it comes to auto accident claims, time is of the essence—especially if you have suffered personal injuries. Each state has different statutes of limitations for car accident claims. However, failure to file before your statute’s expiration date may indefinitely bar you from seeking compensation in any state. Insurance companies know this, too, and they use it to their advantage. Victims of personal injury are particularly vulnerable immediately after an accident and are thus more likely to be pressured into accepting bad settlements. We know that recovery can be a painstaking, time-consuming, and expensive process. You may have medical expenses and car repairs to pay for, and you may also need to miss some days of work to recover. It can be easy to believe an insurance claims adjuster when they tell you that they are offering you your best option. Unfortunately, accepting an insurance company’s initial offer is rarely the best step to take. All of this can make resolving an auto accident claim a seemingly neverending process. How long should you expect to wait?
Some claims take longer to resolve than others. You may wait anywhere from a few days to even a few years. Glass claims are among the quickest to resolve, generally taking only a few days. Roadside assistance and property damage claims, on the other hand, will take a few weeks. The latter is dependent on your vehicle’s assessment by a mechanic or body shop.
Medical claims are generally the longest to finalize, as they cannot move forward until the full realization of any injuries’ long-term effects. Alternatively, they may move forward once the victim has reached maximum medical improvement. For this reason, treatment may need to conclude before the claim can finalize. The victim’s attorney may also need to consult with the physician about any future expenses that the victim may incur, such as surgeries or other treatments. Calculating these factors into the claim may lengthen the resolution process. Furthermore, non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life) may also take extra time to assess, as they are not as easily quantifiable as economic damages.
Claims take longer to resolve when there are disputes over liability or if there are multiple liable parties at once. Colorado, for instance, is a 50 percent modified comparative negligence state. In other words, the amount of compensation a victim receives will be directly affected by their degree of fault. A victim who is determined to be at least 50 percent at fault for the accident will not be entitled to receive any compensation at all. On the other hand, a victim who is determined to be 10 percent at fault for the accident can expect to be responsible for 10 percent of their damages. However, such rules vary state by state. As such, victims should consult with their attorneys to see how their state’s negligence laws may affect them.
Any third-party claims the victim files will also lengthen the resolution process. The liable driver’s insurance company will generally handle these claims, and they will also ask the victim to provide proof of liability, which may be difficult to do without a lawyer. Working with an auto accident attorney is the best way to maximize your chances of success. The right legal team may work with accident reconstructionists and other expert witnesses to support their client’s case. Lawyers may also subpoena black box data, examine police reports, gather crash scene evidence, and execute other necessary duties to prove liability.
Of course, the liable party’s insurance provider will also be doing the same thing. Victims should never believe insurance companies have their best interests at heart, no matter what they claim. Insurance companies are businesses like any other, meaning they have only their bottom line in mind. Every dollar they pay will come out of their own pockets, so they will have every reason to minimize their settlement offers.
It may take insurance claims adjusters some time to fully assess an auto accident claim, as they will be looking for any possible reason to minimize the settlement amount. The insurance company generally receives a settlement demand after liability has been established and injuries have been treated. They will also receive any other necessary information. From then on, claims are typically resolved within three to four weeks. However, certain exceptions may apply. It is also not uncommon for insurance companies to delay in processing a claim. For these reasons, a victim’s lawyer may need to follow up with the insurance company to ensure that their claim is being prioritized. A lawyer may also follow up with the insurance company if their client has not heard back within 60 days.
Afterward, the negotiation process can begin. Victims should always keep in mind that they are not obligated to accept the first settlement offer. Initial settlements are almost always the least the insurance companies can get away with. It is hard to even get a true valuation of an auto accident claim without consulting a lawyer. Many websites claim to be able to provide victims with an estimate, but they cannot assess the dynamic factors in play at any given point. A trusted attorney will not only be able to value your claim, but also do everything to maximize the compensation you are rightfully owed.
Taking care of a car accident claim can be overwhelming, especially when you are recovering from injuries and property damage. You need someone you can trust in your corner. Fortunately, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide auto accident attorneys. You should never have to pay for somebody else’s mistakes. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.