The settlement phase, during which your lawyer and the insurance company decide on a fair offer of compensation, can last anywhere from three months to a year and a half for a relatively simple rear-end auto accident. For example, if you were hit from behind, experienced some pain and sought treatment with one to two months of physical therapy, after you feel healed, your lawyer will start the settlement process to reimburse you for medical costs, pain and suffering. The settlement phase is the final phase of the traffic accident process.
However, if your injuries require surgery, the settlement process can take much longer, because you don’t want to settle on an amount before you know the full extent of the treatment you’ll require such as future surgeries, pain medication, follow-up treatment, and physical therapy.
Each case is different, and there is no set time table for a personal injury settlement to be completed. But to help you understand the process, here are a few main factors that can affect when you see money.
Factors that affect the length of your case
- The severity of your injury. How long it takes you to be completely healed (if ever), your future health care expenses, your physical pain and suffering, surgery and follow-up care. Accidents involving surgery always take longer to settle, because it takes patients longer to recover and find out the real extent of their injuries for the long-term.
- Your case’s complexity. Multi-car collisions, for example, in which there are disputes over who was at fault are complicated and could involve a court battle. However, if one person is clearly at fault and admits it, your case may take less time.
- The opposing insurance company’s response time frame. Insurance companies may respond to your lawyer in a matter of days or weeks. However, legally they are required to respond in a reasonable amount of time, and having a skilled personal injury lawyer will ensure that they do.
- Whether your case requires a trial. Many car accident cases don’t require a trial to resolve. But if yours does, it can take months just to set up a trial date in court.
- Your lawyer’s reputation. Insurance companies get to know the lawyers they deal with on a regular basis, and if your lawyer has gained a good reputation for being tough to beat, insurance adjusters won’t waste time with low-ball offers.
Every personal injury case is unique, and unfortunately the only time estimate that is safe to say is: You won’t see your settlement offer in a week. Months, sometimes a few years depending on the complexity of your auto accident case, is a more realistic timeline.