How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take to Settle in California?
When you’re hurt in an auto accident in California, you may be entitled to damages for medical bills, lost wages, and more from the at-fault party. Most victims wonder: “how long will my car accident case take to settle in California?”
That answer depends on a number of factors. At Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C., we have over 43 years of experience helping clients like you recover fair compensation after a car accident.
How Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C. Can Help Settle Your Car Accident Claim in California
Whether you’re hurt in San Diego or Los Angeles, most car accident cases in California settle without the need for trial. Trial is typically only reserved for the most extreme injury cases. However, the amount of time it’ll take to get money in your pocket depends on a number of factors. The skill and experience of your lawyer is among the most important.
The car insurance company knows that you probably have very little experience negotiating car accident settlement offers. They’ll go to great lengths to minimize your claim–sometimes by offering a settlement immediately or by using tactics to delay your payout.
An experienced California personal injury lawyer at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C. can make the process run much more smoothly.
When you hire us, our lawyers will:
- Step in to make sure the insurance company takes your claim seriously
- Identify the evidence to back up your claim
- Put a stop to insurance tactics designed to deny or delay your claim
- Assess the damages you’re entitled to receive
Insurance companies often behave differently when our personal injury attorneys become involved. To learn more about the time it might take to settle your claim and how our lawyers can help, call our law firm for a free consultation.
California Insurance Rules Can Impact Your Claim
Settling a car accident claim almost always means dealing with insurance companies. The insurance company and applicable insurance policy can have a significant impact on the timeline for settling your case in California
California Fault-Based Insurance Laws
California is a “fault-based” insurance state. That means the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for compensating you for your losses after a motor vehicle accident.
All drivers in the state of California are required to purchase a certain amount of car insurance. However, not everyone follows the rules. It’s estimated that over 16% of California drivers are uninsured.
If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver, you still have options for recovering compensation.
You might have to take one of the following steps:
- File a claim with your own insurance company
- Sue the at-fault driver for damages
- Find out whether another party shares the blame, such as a vehicle manufacturer, employer of an at-fault driver or government transit authority
This situation might take a little longer to settle your case.
Expect the Insurance Company to Fight Back
The insurance company’s actions can influence how long it will take to settle your car accident case. You shouldn’t always expect the insurer to play fair.
Insurance companies aren’t in the business of simply handing out settlement checks for fair compensation. In fact, they often put substantial energy into trying to deny or undervalue your claim.
Even when the insurance company has good intentions, it will look for legitimate reasons to deny or reduce the value of your claim. Some of these are legal.
Some insurance tactics that you might face include:
- Offering a lowball settlement immediately after the accident
- Blaming you for causing the crash
- Denying that their insured caused the accident
- Fishing for information that could let them deny your claim, including information about pre-existing conditions
- Denying your claim without stating a reason, or bad faith insurance practices
The odds are good that you haven’t handled many serious personal injury claims on your own. Our lawyers at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C. have over four decades of combined experience in personal injury law. We’ve seen it all and have the tools to help you sidestep insurance tactics that can delay your receipt of fair compensation.
Factors That Influence Your Settlement Timeline
Every single car accident claim is unique, especially if the victim suffered serious injuries. When dollar values are higher, insurance companies fight back with everything they have. This can influence the amount of time your case will take to settle.
Here are some of the key factors that can influence your timeline even if the insurance company negotiates in good faith.
The Extent of Your Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Personal injury laws in California give car accident victims the right to recover compensation for economic damages and non-economic damages. Putting a fair value on economic damages is usually reasonably simple.
You’ll provide receipts and records to document your:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Anticipated future medical bills
- Lost future earning capacity
- Rehabilitation costs
- Property damage
It can take more time to value non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Diminished quality of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of consortium
These losses don’t come with price tags. If the insurance company puts up a fight over the subjective losses you’ve sustained, it can take much longer to settle.
The Role of Shared Responsibility
When a single person causes an accident, you know exactly where to look for damages. However, under California pure comparative negligence laws, multiple parties can share responsibility for an accident.
Responsible parties might include:
- Employers of a negligent party
- Government transit authorities
- Manufacturers of defective car parts
It can take longer to settle your claim if contributory fault is an issue.
It usually takes longer to investigate an injury claim when multiple parties are involved. Under California law, fault is divided between all responsible parties. Each party must be assigned a percentage of fault before the insurers will agree to a final settlement.
Dividing blame isn’t always easy to do–and it can mean a lot of back-and-forth with the insurance negotiations.
The Severity of Your Car Accident Claim Will Also Impact the Settlement Timeline
You deserve fair compensation regardless of how severely you were hurt. However, more serious injury cases usually take longer to settle. To get the fair compensation you deserve, you first have to understand how the injury will impact your future.
Some common examples of serious car accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Serious burns
- Organ damage
- Airbag injuries
- Chest injuries
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Head and neck injuries
Before we can demand fair compensation, it’s important to have a doctor’s opinion about the need for future medical care. We might have to bring in experts in various specialties, including economics, life planning, rehabilitation, and more.
This can take time–but it is often critical to making sure your eventual settlement award reflects the reality of your situation. After all, you don’t want to be on the hook for medical bills down the road if you settle for too little.
Determining the Cause of Your Car Accident Can Influence How Long Your Case Takes to Settle
As an initial matter, determining the cause of your car wreck is key to recovering an insurance settlement. To make an injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, you have to know who that party is–meaning you have to determine causation before even getting started.
Sometimes multiple factors contribute to the cause of a car accident. In those cases, multiple parties might be liable for damages. Our lawyers at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help you get the facts straight.
Some of the most common causes of car accidents in California include:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield the right-of-way
- Tailgating (following too closely)
- Aggressive driving
- Unsafe passing
- Illegal lane changes
- Illegal or unsafe turns
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Drunk driving
- Road hazards
Some investigations are cut-and-dry. In other cases, it can be hard to know exactly what caused the accident.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident in California?
California has a two-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases. This deadline impacts your settlement timeline because insurance companies aren’t likely to settle if you can’t sue for damages.
Often, that means there will be a firm two-year cap on settlement negotiations prior to filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Wondering “How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take to Settle in California?” Call for a Free Consultation Today
Most car accident claims settle out of court. If you were injured in a car accident and wondering, “how long will my car accident case take to settle in California,” reach out to our California car accident attorneys at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C. for a free case evaluation today.