The victims of serious car accident injuries often face a variety of financial setbacks, such as high medical expenses and lost wages from time missed at work. Fortunately, insurance often covers many of these expenses, and people who are injured due to the negligence of other drivers may also have grounds for a personal injury claim against the person responsible for the accident and potentially their insurer. These claims can help provide additional compensation for the various harms suffered. Many people who file a personal injury claim wonder how long their car accident settlement will take. The time frame can vary depending on several factors. If you have questions about filing a personal injury claim for a car accident, you can learn more by contacting the Missouri car accident lawyers of Steelman Gaunt Crowley at (573) 341-8336.
Steps in the Car Accident Settlement Process
The process of seeking a car accident settlement begins shortly after the accident occurs. Victims of car accidents should be aware of the steps in the process and how they can increase their chances of receiving a fair settlement based on the damages they have suffered.
Seeking medical treatment should be a priority after a car accident, as prompt medical care can help avoid preventable complications and may make the injury recovery process easier. Documentation of medical treatment is also critical when filing an insurance claim or personal injury claim against a negligent driver. Medical records are among the most important pieces of evidence for supporting a claim and proving damages suffered.
Medical treatment should always be sought soon after a car accident, even if no injuries are immediately apparent. Some car accident injuries, such as whiplash, have delayed symptoms that may not surface until hours, days, or even weeks after the crash. Make sure to keep all medical records for all treatments and consider taking photos of any visible injuries as well.
While there is no legal requirement to work with an attorney, due to the complexity of the process most people who file car accident injury claims prefer to do so with legal guidance from an experienced car accident lawyer. During the first consultation, a lawyer will review all of the circumstances and evidence from the crash to determine if the client has a strong case for an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Next, they will review all of the damages and assign a dollar value to each, with the sum of all damages being used to determine how much to request in the initial settlement offer.
In a car accident personal injury case, a demand letter is an opening settlement offer sent to the at-fault driver. If the case is being handled by an attorney, the car accident lawyer typically sends a demand letter to the other party’s insurance provider after reviewing the available evidence and arriving at a dollar amount based on the damages their client has suffered.
The demand letter usually describes the details of the crash, shows how the other party’s negligence caused the crash, and summarizes the economic and non-economic losses suffered by the injured party. If the other driver’s insurance carrier accepts the initial settlement offer, the process ends at this stage and the victim typically receives a check within a few weeks.
Filing an Insurance Claim
If the insurance company is not willing to agree to an acceptable settlement amount, the next step is to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. An insurance claim can either be filed with your insurance company or directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the victim cannot recover fair compensation through the claims process, they may file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver in civil court. Most car accident claims are settled before going to court; in fact, one of a car accident lawyer’s priorities is often finding a way to ensure a fair settlement for their client without incurring the expense and delay of a lawsuit. If the case does go to court and the victim wins, the defendant will usually make a payment within 30 to 60 days after the ruling has been issued.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement?
Car accident settlement amounts vary widely depending on the circumstances of the crash and the injuries suffered. A car accident victim who only suffers property damage will typically receive much less than a victim who suffers severe or permanent injuries. The amount of a car accident settlement is calculated by adding up all of the damages suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average settlement for bodily injuries after a car crash was $20,235 in 2020, and the average settlement for property damage alone was $4,711. You can learn more about how much your car accident claim may be worth by contacting the experienced car accident lawyers at Steelman Gaunt Crowley.
What Factors Influence How Long a Settlement Takes?
A car accident settlement can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or even over a year, depending on the circumstances of the case. Some of the factors that can influence the timeframe of a claim and settlement include:
- The severity of injuries and length of recovery time
- Whether the other driver committed a crime during the crash
- The amount of lost income and the duration of time away from work
- The number of negligent parties––some cases may involve negligence by a driver and another third party, such as a commercial driver’s employer
- The strength of the evidence
- The total amount of damages
- Whether there are any liability disputes or mediation processes
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Missouri Car Accident Claim?
Missouri has an uncommonly long statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim or any other type of personal injury claim. While most states have a two-year statute of limitations, people who are injured in Missouri car accidents have five years from the date of the accident to file a claim, as explained by the Missouri Revisor of Statutes. Although this law can be favorable for victims, it is still important to act quickly and seek financial compensation soon after an accident. Waiting too long can hurt your chances of securing a settlement, and car accident victims often need financial compensation as soon as possible.
Learn More From Our Missouri Car Accident Lawyers
If you have questions about how long your car accident settlement may take, the Missouri car accident lawyers of Steelman Gaunt Crowley may be able to help. Contact us today at (573) 341-8336 to learn more in a free consultation.