After a car accident, there’s a lot to consider. You may be balancing medical appointments to recover from injuries, while also worrying about the legal aspects of your car accident claim. Many car accident victims wonder how long their car accident claim will take, especially when the medical bills pile up and they cannot return to work due to their injuries. Sometimes, insurance companies are quick to offer settlements, but injury victims should show caution when an insurance company makes a fast settlement offer—many times before the injured victim could even know the full extent of their damages. Instead of accepting a fast, undervalued settlement, it’s best to hire a car accident lawyer to navigate the car accident claim process to maximize your settlement.
All accident claims are unique and no two take the same amount of time to resolve, but understanding the timeline for the process can help give a better idea of how long you might expect your claim to take.
Immediately After the Accident
The aftermath of an accident is painful and confusing but keeping a clear head can help. Once you’ve arrived at the hospital, ask for a full medical evaluation with a detailed report of injuries as well as the doctor’s treatment recommendations and your prognosis. Obtain a copy of the police report for your accident and any photos or videos of the accident scene and damaged vehicles. Set up a consultation with an experienced McKinney car accident lawyer to review your case and begin your claim.
Investigating the Accident to Prove Liability
Before you can make a claim for damages, the burden of proving liability rests with you, as the injury victim. Your car accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident by examining the police report, eyewitness testimony, and other evidence to determine who was at fault. Even if you were partly at fault for the accident, you can still recover a portion of your damages minus your percentage of fault. For example, if your damages amount to $100,000 and you were 20% at fault for the accident, you can still recover $80,000.
Proving liability requires demonstrating that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries, that they breached this duty by driving negligently or recklessly, and that their breach of duty caused your injuries and damages. Once your attorney proves liability they can craft a compelling case for compensation for your damages.
Sending a Demand Package to the Insurance Company
Your car accident attorney will gather evidence to prove liability and carefully calculate your damages to maximize your claim. Damages in car accident claims typically include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity if the accident left you temporarily or permanently disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Any other non-economic damages that apply to your case, like disfigurement or PTSD
Your attorney will send an evidence-backed demand package to the insurance company of the party at fault to claim compensation for your damages.
Negotiating a Settlement
Once the insurance company reviews the demand letter, they may offer a settlement for your damages. Often, negotiations take place between the insurance company representatives and your attorney to maximize your compensation. About 95% of personal injury claims resolve through a settlement for damages directly from the insurance company. Only if the insurance company fails to offer an ample settlement amount does the case progress to a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
If your case requires arguing for compensation in court, your attorney will file the claim within the state’s statute of limitations. Texas places a 2-year limit starting from the date of your accident in which to file a lawsuit. Court cases for compensation may take longer to resolve, but they often end in a larger amount of compensation through a jury award.
Once you receive either a settlement or jury award for damages, you can start rebuilding your life and moving toward the best possible recovery.