What is a Settlement?

A settlement is a monetary agreement between you and the other driver’s insurance company after a car accident. They agree to pay you a certain amount to cover your damages and injuries. In return, you agree that this case is closed and waive your rights to seek future compensation. This means you cannot return later and ask for more money, even if you need additional surgeries or the cost to repair your vehicle is higher than expected. 

According to the American Bar Association, over 90% of personal injury claims are settled before trial. This is because settlements give both parties more control over the case’s outcome. It also allows them to avoid the risks, costs, and delays associated with going to trial. In essence, settlements are a win for both parties. 

You do not have to accept a settlement offer right away. You have the right to negotiate with the insurance company to get a higher amount. Since the first offer is almost always too low, you should never sign any settlement agreement before speaking with an experienced car accident lawyer. 

What Affects the Timeline of a Car Accident Claim Settlement?

Though an experienced car accident lawyer can give you a better idea of when your case might settle, these are some of the factors you should be aware of:

If your injuries are serious and require extensive medical treatment, it may take longer to determine the total cost of the medical bills and other expenses related to the injury. This can delay the settlement process until the extent of the injuries and the amount of damages are properly evaluated. Your legal team or insurer may also wish to wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement before settling your case.

If there are multiple parties involved in the car accident, it can complicate the settlement process tremendously. With multiple parties, multiple insurance companies may point fingers in an effort to reduce their liabilities. Proving liability is also more complicated when more people are involved in a crash. The more parties involved, the more complex the case, leading to a longer settlement process.

If there are disputes over who is at fault or if the insurance company is disputing the claim’s validity, your case may require more time to resolve.

If more evidence is available, your case will likely settle quicker. The insurance company will only accept liability for the crash with sufficient evidence. Before negotiating with insurers, your legal team must prove the other party is to blame. 

For example, if there are no eyewitnesses and no police report, it may be your word versus theirs. In this case, your attorney must investigate the case more closely to prove who was at fault, which can delay your settlement further.

Many insurance companies have strict timelines and procedures that can delay the settlement process. In addition, if the insurance company is slow to respond or unresponsive, it can take even longer to process the claim.

Is your lawyer a good negotiator? If so, they may be able to get your claim settled quickly because they know how to build effective cases and hold their own with insurance companies. If you and your legal team cannot settle through negotiation, the case may need to go to court, which can further extend the settlement timeline.

The Typical Timeline of a Car Accident Settlement

Typically, the resolution of a car accident claim follows three stages: the pre-settlement process, negotiation, and post-settlement process. To expedite your case and ensure you receive maximum compensation, you’ll want to hire an experienced car accident attorney.

Pre-Settlement Process: Medical Treatment and Investigation

The pre-settlement process technically begins immediately after your crash. If you are injured in an accident, your first priority should be to seek medical treatment. This improves your chances of recovery and provides valuable documentation of your injuries and the medical treatment you received. This will be important evidence in your settlement negotiations.

In addition to seeking medical treatment, your legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and gather evidence to support your claim. This may involve taking photographs of the scene, obtaining witness statements, and gathering police reports. These things can help you claim to proceed to the next phase of the settlement process: negotiations. 

The Negotiation Process: Demand Letter and Settlement Offer

Once you have completed your medical treatment and gathered the necessary evidence, you can begin negotiating with the insurance company. During this part of the settlement process, your car accident lawyer will prepare a demand letter outlining the details of your accident and injuries as well as the compensation you’re seeking. 

The insurance company will review your demand letter and make a settlement offer. This offer may be lower than your initial demand, so carefully consider whether the offer is fair before accepting it.

If the insurance company’s offer is unreasonable, you may ask your lawyer to make a counteroffer and negotiate with the insurance company until an agreement is reached.

Post-Settlement Process: Release and Distribution of Funds               

Once a settlement agreement has been reached, the final steps of the settlement process include the release and distribution of funds. 

You must sign a release form before the insurance company will pay you. This release form waives your right to pursue legal action in the future. If your injuries worsen or you need future surgeries, you cannot ask for more money. This is why you must take the time to evaluate the settlement offer before signing it. 

Once you sign the release form, the insurance company will distribute the funds according to your settlement agreement’s terms. This includes payment to your attorney and any medical providers who filed a medical lien.

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How Can You Speed Up the Process?

Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic physical and emotional experience. You may find that medical bills begin piling up while you’re injured and unable to work. Creditors don’t seem to care that you’re injured, which can cause a tremendous strain on you and your family. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to speed up the car accident settlement process.

Collecting evidence such as police reports, witness statements, and photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage can be crucial in building a strong case. The sooner this evidence is gathered, the better.

Seeking medical treatment promptly after the accident is essential. It will speed up your recovery process and provide your lawyers with valuable documentation and evidence to present to the insurance companies.

One of the best ways to speed up the settlement process is to hire an experienced car accident lawyer. Your attorney will navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight for your rights. They can also help gather evidence, communicate with medical providers, and file necessary paperwork. Since they’re familiar with injury laws, they can ensure things are filed on time and reduce delays to your settlement.

It’s vital to respond quickly to any requests for information from the insurance company. Delaying or ignoring communication can slow down the settlement process.

Mediation or arbitration can be a quicker and less expensive path to settlement.


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Let Our Attorneys Advocate for You

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, don’t let insurance company tactics overwhelm you. Our team of skilled car accident attorneys is here to go toe-to-toe with insurance companies, help you navigate the legal process, and advocate for your rights. That way, you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery.

With nine offices in Arkansas and Tennessee – Little Rock, Little Rock-Corporate Hill, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, and Memphis– our personal injury lawyers are easily accessible when you need help.

Connect with us today for a free case evaluation.

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