One of the first questions we hear from clients is how long will my car accident claim take to settle? While this is a common question, it is not a very easy one to answer. All cases are unique, and the length of time it will take to resolve your claim will depend on the facts and circumstances involved. While this can be frustrating to hear, obtaining fair compensation for damages often requires fervent negotiations between your car accident attorney, insurance companies, and defense attorneys involved.
There are several key factors that play into how long your car accident claim will take and how much your claim is worth.
For car accident victims who suffer serious injury, life for them and their family may never be the same. These injuries often require extensive hospitalizations, surgeries, and long-term care, which are some of the costliest medical expenses for a family. Car accident claims often include the value of your medical expenses. The higher the value that you are seeking, the more complex the negotiation becomes.
If you anticipate that further medical treatment will be necessary, which is often the case with serious injury, your claim will include compensation for future damages. If your medical treatment will extend far into the future, or you have lasting injuries that will require ongoing treatment, your claim could include a demand for compensation for future medical expenses, future pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, or lost income. A personal injury lawyer has expertise in calculating and negotiating for the maximum amount of compensation in these complex areas.
In many serious injury car accident cases, it can be some time to fully understand the extent of the injuries sustained, the ongoing treatment required and the full prognosis. This time, however, is required to determine the full value of your case. By settling too quickly, you risk losing out on compensation for your damages. Once you settle your claim, you cannot reopen it down the line when you realize the ongoing medical needs are greater than the amount of your settlement.
Proving Liability in Car Accidents
Most car accident claims use a legal basis of negligence to prove who or what entity was at-fault or bears responsibility for the accident. One of the most difficult aspects of a personal injury case can be proving negligence or negligent acts were the cause of serious injuries and damages. There are many instances when the negligent acts of another are not quite as black and white, yet the responsible party still should be held accountable. There are four elements to proving negligence.
The first element of negligence is to show the defendant owed you some legal duty. For example, drivers owe others on the road a duty to act with reasonable care and follow traffic laws. In some cases a third party could be involved which may complicate the case. For instance, in an accident involving a truck or other vehicle owned by a business or municipality would likely involve both the driver and the owner.
Breach of Duty
In this element of proving negligence, you must be able to prove that the average person, given the circumstance and knowledge that the defendant had at the time, would have known that someone might have been injured as a result of his or her actions, And furthermore, the average person then would have acted differently than the defendant did in that situation. For example, the average person likely knows that drunk driving is cause for many injuries; or, a business may know that they need to follow certain safety guidelines in order to operate vehicles in a safe manner.
To prove causation, you need to show that the other party’s breach of duty is what caused your injuries. In car accident cases, it often feels obvious that the car accident caused a set of injuries. However, the defense may try to prove that the extent of your injuries weren’t all caused by the car accident but rather pre-existing conditions existed.
Even if all of the above are true, you need to show damages. Damages often come in the form of medical bills and lost wages but can also include things like pain and suffering. As mentioned above for serious injuries, it’s also important to recover future lost earnings or medical care that may be expected down the line.
More Than One Liable Party
More than one person, business or entity could have legal liability to you for the injuries you sustain in the typical car accident. In the examples above about work vehicle accidents, the business owner of the vehicle and/or the at-fault driver’s employer. Other parties who may be liable in a car accident include auto parts manufacturers, municipalities or government entities that maintain roadways, and other drivers involved in the accident. Experienced car accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case to determine all parties who bear some liability for the accident.
While the vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved through a settlement, that doesn’t mean that you should be quick to accept any offer that comes your way. It isn’t unusual for an accident victim to be unhappy with the amount offered by an insurance company. Insurance companies are in business to maximize their profits and minimize claims. This may mean that after an initial period of negotiation, a formal lawsuit is filed and the process continues to fight for adequate compensation for your damages. While the legal process may feel long and never-ending, perseverance is one of the key ways to maximize your compensation.
Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, Experts in Car Accident Claims
While the car accident claim process may take some time to resolve, don’t let the time frame deter you from seeking the justice you deserve. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that you believe was caused by another person's negligence, contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law and speak with a skilled car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Our firm has an in-depth knowledge of personal injury law resulting in years of experience and proven results. We pride ourselves in being able to provide clients with the passionate representation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.