How long it takes to settle a car accident claim does depend on several factors, only some of which are within your control. A car accident lawyer in Dallas can help you understand and navigate these factors, which include:
- The availability of evidence
- The insurance company’s willingness to cooperate
- The specifics of your traffic accident
- The role you played in the accident
Finding Evidence for Your Car Accident Claim
The more evidence you can find to prove your case, the less opportunity the insurance company will have to argue against you, and the quicker they may agree to pay a fair settlement.
A car accident attorney can help you collect and interpret data from sources such as:
- The accident report
- Your medical records
- Photos or video footage
- Witness testimony
- Expert testimony
Before you approach the liable party and their insurer with a request for compensation, you will want to find enough evidence to convince them that your case is solid.
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Will the Insurer Settle Your Car Accident Claim?
Typically, the insurance company wants to take whatever action best aligns with its own business goals. If they believe that quickly offering you a fair settlement is in their best interests, they will do so, and your case will not take long to settle.
Sometimes, however, the insurer decides that it is better for them not to pay what you are asking. To that end, they may try to get you to give up on your case by:
- Taking longer than necessary to investigate the accident or respond to your communications
- Stalling during negotiations or refusing to agree to the amount you need
- Declining to negotiate at all
To protect your right to a fair settlement, you should be cautious when speaking to insurance agents and consult with a car accident law firm as early in the process as you can. The presence of an attorney can sometimes make an insurer think twice before unnecessarily delaying your claim.
How Complex Is Your Car Accident Claim?
The details of how your motor vehicle accident happened can have a big impact on how long it takes to settle a car accident claim. Consider the following examples:
- A drunk driver hits your car. The accident was caught on video, and the police report proves beyond all doubt that the driver was intoxicated. This case is straightforward and should not take long to settle.
- Now suppose there was a third vehicle involved in the accident described above. More involved parties means more information for investigators to sort through. Such investigations take time.
- Again working off the previous example, imagine that, in addition to the three drivers, there is also a possibility that faulty airbags worsened the victim’s injuries. Having to investigate and assign a portion of the fault to a manufacturer as well as each of the drivers would complicate the case further.
In general, the more straightforward a case is, the faster you can settle your claim.
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Car Accident Liability and Your Settlement
Many states have laws that restrict a plaintiff’s ability to recover compensation if the plaintiff themselves played a role in causing the accident. In legal terms, this is called comparative negligence. For instance:
- Say that Driver A was obeying all traffic rules when Driver B, who was speeding, hit them from behind. Driver B bears 100 percent responsibility for the crash, so Driver A can potentially recover compensation for 100 percent of their losses.
- If Driver A brakes suddenly without warning, it is partially their fault that Driver B hit them. If a court were to decide Driver A was 30 percent responsible for the crash, their settlement would be reduced by 30 percent (e.g., if they suffered $10,000 of damage, they could only collect $7,000).
- If Driver A and Driver B were both driving at high speeds when they collided, they may be deemed equally responsible for the crash. Driver A could therefore only collect 50 percent of their total losses (e.g., $5,000 out of $10,000).
If a plaintiff’s share of responsibility exceeds a certain percentage, they may not be allowed to recover compensation at all. For example, in Texas, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001 states that anyone who is more than 50 percent responsible for an accident cannot collect damages.
Determining what percentage of responsibility each party bears can extend the length of a car accident case. It may help you to hire a lawyer who can find evidence of your innocence and/or the at-fault party’s liability.
Other Reasons for Delays in Settling an Auto Accident Claim
Many other factors could affect how long it takes to settle your car accident case. Your lawyer can explain these factors to you, including:
Other Car Accident Claims that Increase Workloads
The other people involved in your case may already have a lot on their plate. For example, insurance adjusters may have multiple accidents to investigate, and judges may have other cases to adjudicate before they get to yours.
Your car accident attorney can keep in contact with these other parties and ask for status updates as necessary.
Questions About the Car Accident Statute of Limitations
You have a limited time to decide if filing a legal action is right for you. The deadline varies by state: for example, in Texas, it is 2 years from the date of the accident, per Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003. You may have more or less time, depending on where you live and your case’s specifics.
If there is any question of whether or not you filed your case before the applicable deadline, the court will have to investigate and answer those questions before you can receive compensation. This could delay your settlement.
We Can Help Settle Your Car Accident Claim
At Loncar Lyon Jenkins, we understand that your family needs money fast after a car crash. Get in touch with us today so we can start on your case. We want to help your family attain justice, no matter how long it takes to settle your car accident claim. We can assess your case for free and defer all attorney’s fees unless and until you win.