A car accident case could take months or years to settle. The timeline for settlement depends on numerous factors.
A simple car accident claim with minor injuries could take a few months to a year to settle, depending on how quickly the victim heals from their injuries. However, catastrophic injuries and disputed liability could push settlement to more than a year. Filing a personal injury lawsuit might require years to resolve.
A skilled legal team will work diligently to put money in your pocket as soon as possible. However, your attorney shouldn’t rush the case just to settle. Instead, they should do what is in your best interest to maximize your compensation.
Factors That Influence the Timeline of a Car Accident Settlement
Understandably, you want to settle your car accident case as soon as possible. You may need the funds from the settlement to recover financially after a car wreck. You also want to put a traumatic experience behind you and return to your life.
Personal injury cases are unique. The facts and circumstances of your case will affect the timeline and outcome of your case. While each case is different, common factors impact how long it takes to settle a car accident case in Los Angeles.
The Extent of Your Injuries and Physical Recovery
Until you complete medical treatment, you cannot know the extent of your injuries – and, therefore, the value of your claim.
A car accident can cause numerous injuries, including:
Catastrophic injuries and permanent impairments increase the value of a car accident claim. It costs more money to treat severe injuries, and the victim generally has higher lost wages and out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, the accident victim may be entitled to compensation for future damages.
Therefore, you should wait until you reach maximum medical improvement and your doctor releases you from care. In some cases, your attorney may need to hire medical experts to provide a prognosis and opinions explaining the full extent of your injuries. This process can take time, but the increase in the settlement amount can provide for your future financial needs.
Determinations of Fault and Liability
California is an at-fault state for car accident claims. You have the burden of proving that the other party caused the car crash to recover compensation for damages. Therefore, your lawyer must investigate the accident to gather evidence proving causation and fault.
Common causes of auto accidents in Los Angeles include:
- Driving under the influence
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Failure to follow traffic laws
- Drowsy driving
- Road defects
- Defective car parts
Unfortunately, some factors can make proving liability more difficult. Other factors can lengthen the time necessary to investigate a car accident.
Factors that could lengthen a car accident investigation include:
- Allegations of comparative negligence
- Multi-car accident cases
- Accidents involving commercial motor vehicles, including semi-trucks and 18-wheelers
- Crashes involving government vehicles or employees
- Single-vehicle rollover accidents
- Allegations of passenger negligence
- Accidents caused by road defects or dangerous road conditions
In some cases, your attorney may hire accident reconstructionists, engineers, and other expert witnesses to assist with the accident investigation in cases involving complex issues.
For example, if an insurance company alleges comparative fault, it needs to prove that you contributed to the cause of the accident. If it does, you could lose thousands of dollars in compensation. In that case, your lawyer might hire experts to help prove that you have no responsibility for causing the car accident.
Willingness to Settle the Personal Injury Claim
California requires drivers to have an acceptable form of financial responsibility. Most drivers choose to purchase liability car insurance to satisfy this requirement. Therefore, most car accident cases are handled by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You have two options when dealing with a car accident case. First, you can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.
The insurance company may be willing to negotiate a fair settlement. If the company accepts liability and negotiates in good faith, settlement may be quicker. You could settle the case within a few months after you complete medical treatment.
However, if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith or denies liability, it drags the case out longer.
Your second option is to file a personal injury lawsuit. After filing a lawsuit, it could take more than a year to go to trial.
Your personal injury lawyer will explain the pros and cons of each option to help you evaluate which is best for you. Most car accident cases settle through negotiations with the insurance provider.
What Is a Fair Settlement Amount for a Los Angeles Car Accident Claim?
How much your personal injury case is worth depends on your damages. Damages in a car accident claim include economic damages.
Examples of economic losses include:
You could also receive compensation for your non-economic damages. Non-economic damages represent the pain and suffering caused by a car accident.
These damages include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and discomfort caused by physical injuries and medical treatment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
If you sustain permanent injuries, you can seek compensation for future damages. Your attorney may work with medical and financial experts to calculate the value of your future damages. The goal is to recover sufficient compensation to help you cover future medical costs, loss of income, and ongoing pain and suffering.
In a few cases, an injured party can receive punitive damages. A jury awards punitive damages to “punish” an at-fault party for malice, fraud, or oppression. Punitive damages can increase the value of a personal injury case.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer to Discuss How Long Your Case May Take to Settle
Being in a car accident can turn your life upside down. You may incur substantial financial losses in addition to your pain and suffering. A skilled legal team will aggressively pursue your accident claim to get the money you deserve.
Schedule a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (877) 300-4535 today to discuss your case and how long it may take to settle.