What is the Timeline for a Car Accident Settlement?

One of the most frequently asked questions an accident attorney will have to answer is “how long does it take to settle a car accident case?”. Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dry answer. The answer is, it depends.

It can be frustrating to wait for what seems like forever to realize the outcome of an injury claim, but there are things outside of an accident attorney's control that can affect the timeline of a case. Car accident and personal injury case time lines can vary.

Universal Timelines Do Not Exist

Every car accident or personal injury claim has unique circumstances. Unique circumstances can vary and affect how long it will take to settle the claim. There are about 162,000 deaths annually in the US attributed to injuries sustained in accidents. Each one of those cases has different timelines for settlement.

However, there is an expected timeline. You can expect to settle your case from about eight months to sixteen months from the date your case began, not from the date of the accident.

Case Delays

There are several reasons why a case may run into delays and extend the period of time it takes to reach the settlement phase.

  • Maximum Medical Recovery (MMR) - Settling a claim before you reach maximum medical recovery is not possible. If your doctor indicates that more treatment can help, you cannot settle. Getting the care you need is a priority. Additionally, knowing what the permanent damage is will shape the settlement. Permanent losses cannot be assessed until you reach MMR.
  • Disputes over liability - If there is any dispute over who was at fault in the accident it will delay the case.
  • Trial - About 91% of cases are settled during pre-trial negotiations, but if an agreement cannot be reached, the case will have to go to trial. Trials can tack on a significant amount of time to the process.

Many of the potential case delays can be avoided by having a good accident attorney on your side. The right attorney will reduce the risk of human error like missing a filing date or improper filing.

Trust in Your Attorney

Yes, the process can be frustrating, but trust that your attorney is working hard to move the matter forward and get you the best possible outcome. Choose the right accident attorney from the start to stay on track with your case.


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