How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?

Motor vehicle accidents aren’t a rare occurrence in the daily lives of Americans. However, being involved in such is still a devastating experience for anyone.

Not only will you suffer from immense physical pain, but you may also be weighed down by financial responsibilities, such as medical care, repair fees, and potential loss of wages.

Understandably, you want to be compensated quickly and fairly for these instances. But how long does it take to receive a settlement for a car accident case? How can a lawyer help expedite the settlement process? What is the average settlement amount if you sustain minor injuries?

This article covers these questions and provides comprehensive insight regarding the steps one should undergo when claiming settlement for a personal injury case. It also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of settling an injury case quickly. is a great tool for seeking legal help concerning injury cases. Browse our website and learn the benefits of working with a car crash attorney. Some even offer free consultation for various cases.

Timeline of Auto Accident Settlements and How Long It Takes

Giving a precise estimate of how long a car accident settlement takes is complicated. There are a lot of factors in play, such as the severity of the injuries, the negligence of both parties, insurance policies, and more. The following sections discuss some crucial steps to consider.

What Has to Happen Before a Vehicular Accident Settlement Offer?

Before you receive an initial offer for your vehicular accident settlement, the following must happen first:

  • The car accident victim’s treatment must be completed or is at maximum medical improvement.
  • All medical records and bills must be obtained to document future medical expenses and lost wages.
  • There was a response to the demand package.

Seek Medical Treatment (1-12 Months)

You must seek proper medical aid for your injuries immediately following any car crash. Attending injuries like whiplash or a hip fracture must be prioritized. 

Failure to seek medical treatment can impact your final settlement amount or delay your personal injury claim.

Treatment Is Finished or at Maximum Medical Improvement

You must fully recover from your injuries or be at a point where you already reached maximum medical improvement before you can get a car accident settlement offer.

Should you require future surgery or other procedures, your personal injury lawyer can ask a doctor to estimate the treatment costs you will still undergo. Often, this is the biggest reason for delays when settling an injury claim. 

The best solution to expedite this process is to get the doctors to write a report that will let you claim your future expenses.

All of the Clients’ Medical Bills and Records Have Been Obtained

A settlement given before a lawsuit is often exclusively based on the victim’s medical records.

The doctor’s critical opinions are usually documented in the medical records. How these records reflect your sustained injuries is an important variable that the insurance company will use to determine the value of your case.

Get Your Case Evaluated by a Lawyer (2-6 Months)

Once you recover from your sustained injuries, your personal injury lawyer will begin collecting pieces of evidence that will help support your claim.

For instance, your lawyer must review your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Send a Demand Letter (4-6 Weeks)

Once you’ve fully recovered and your damages have been evaluated, your lawyer must attempt to negotiate with the insurance company for your settlement amount. Your car crash lawyer will send a demand letter to instigate this process.

File an Insurance Claim (2-4 Weeks)

Suppose you cannot settle your case before a court case is filed. In that case, your lawyer will initiate a personal injury lawsuit by preparing a written complaint. 

The complaint will then be served on each of the defendants. From there, the defendants will have 20 days to respond.

Remember that your case will not necessarily go to a trial just because you filed a motor vehicle accident lawsuit. Cases can still be settled even during the trial phase.

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

Listed below are the steps you should take when filing an auto insurance claim:

  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Review your insurance coverage.
  • Work with your insurance adjuster.
  • Have your car repaired or replaced (when it’s totaled).

Move to Discovery (6-12 Months)

The term discovery refers to the means for each party to establish defenses, assess damages, and exchange information. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the discovery process can take six months up to a year.

Mediate and Negotiate (2-4 Weeks)

Once the discovery phase is complete, the involved parties will have laid out all their cards on the table. At this point, a car crash attorney may recommend alternative resolutions, such as mediation or arbitration.

Mediation and arbitration allow both sides to negotiate and listen to the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases.

The Demand Package: Waiting for a Response

After a settlement demand is given, the insurance company will evaluate your claim further. In most cases, an injury claim takes more than three weeks to be evaluated. If it takes too long, your lawyer can always follow up with the insurance company.

Sometimes, a case settles, but the insurance settlement check hasn’t been issued. For such instances, your car crash lawyer must push the ball forward to get your money immediately.

Go to Trial (1-3 Days)

If, by all means, your case still cannot be settled, you must proceed to a legal trial. This process usually takes one to three days to finish.


Once you choose to settle your case and have signed and returned the release agreement, the settlement check will usually be issued within a month (30 days).

Settlement Agreement

A settlement agreement outlines the settlement’s terms and other important information to all parties involved. This must be signed together with the release document.

Insurance Company Sends a Check

Once the settlement agreement is fulfilled and signed, the insurance company should issue the check to your personal injury attorney. Then, your car crash attorney will deposit the check into a trust account or escrow.

When the check is cleared, your lawyer will deduct their fees and compensate you for expenses and liens for which you were responsible.

Some examples of liens are the following:

  • Unpaid medical expenses
  • Expert fees
  • Unpaid child support
  • State-specific liens such as Medicaid or Medicare

When Will I Get My Settlement Check?

Pinpointing the exact timeframe of your settlement check issuance is impossible due to the various factors involved in each case.

However, a settlement check can be issued within six weeks after all parties have signed the agreement. Remember that this does not apply to everyone since every case has its unique circumstances.

What Happens if I Do Not Receive My Settlement Check Within Six Weeks?

Suppose you haven’t received your settlement check within six weeks of signing the agreement. In that case, contacting your personal injury lawyer is the best recourse.

Here are a few common reasons why your check is delayed:

  • Your settlement amount is over six figures.
  • Your lawyer may be holding the payment if they are negotiating outstanding liens.
  • You agreed to annuity payments (smaller payments over time).

You Receive Your Check

Your attorney will issue your settlement check once all the steps above are accomplished. Given the multiple procedures and parties involved, it’s easy to see why receiving your vehicular accident settlement can take several weeks or even months.

Settling a Car Accident Varies Based on Multiple Factors

Some personal injury cases are more straightforward to settle than others. If it is clear that the other driver is entirely responsible for the crash and your injuries are apparent, you may be able to settle with their insurance and receive a check within three months.

However, reaching an agreement might take time if the accident involved multiple vehicles and caused complex injuries.

How Challenging It Is to Prove Negligence and Liability

In some cases, it can be challenging to determine what caused the crash and who is at fault. Additionally, the investigation can have delays, particularly with the witnesses, who have their schedules.

Here are some other factors that could delay your car accident investigation:

  • Obtaining medical documents and other relevant records
  • Gathering evidence from the other driver’s employer (for commercial vehicle accidents)
  • Working with experts
  • Accident reconstruction

The Severity of Your Car Accident Injuries

When a motor vehicle accident victim sustains severe injuries, it could take a significant amount of time to reach maximum medical improvement. 

Suppose you were involved in an accident and have not fully healed from your injuries. In that case, you may not know how much your future medical expenses will be.

If the Case Requires a Lawsuit

If your case goes to a legal proceeding, it will take much longer to accomplish than most insurance settlements. 

Here are a few reasons why pursuing a lawsuit is advisable when trying to recover compensation:

  • Time to use is running out.
  • The insurance company does not provide or agree to a fair settlement value.
  • The insurer alleges you contributed to the crash.

The Insurer Drags Its Feet

In most cases, the insurance company delays offering agreements or continues to make lowball settlement offers in hopes that you will give up because you need fast money. They also perform delaying tactics to exhaust the time you have to sue.

The best way to prevent this from happening in your personal injury claim is to work with a car accident attorney. A car accident lawyer is well-versed in the insurance companies’ tricks and how to communicate effectively with them to push your case forward.

How Much Are Most Car Accident Settlements? 

According to a report by the Insurance Information Institute, the average bodily injury claim in 2020 was $20,235.

However, you must remember that this figure may not apply to your personal injury claim since all cases are different. Seeking the legal assistance of a personal injury attorney is always best for such cases.

Car Accident Settlement Amounts Can Vary Widely

Actual settlement amounts from a car accident injury claim depend on many factors, including the injury’s severity and effects on your daily life.

A typical vehicular accident settlement should also consider costs related to the accident. Some examples of these are the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and future income
  • Personal property damages
  • Childcare and housework services
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle to compensate for a disability

Should You Settle Your Car Accident Case?

Generally, settling your vehicular accident case lets you recover compensation much quicker than if your case went to a trial.

Settling your case also gives you the certainty of knowing how much you will receive following a successful agreement. If you go to a trial, there is no guarantee that your case will be successful.

However, you must remember that when you settle your case, you also give up your right to sue. This means you can’t file a lawsuit should the settlement offer not be large enough to compensate you for future damages.

Is There a Quicker Option to Settle My Car Accident Claim? What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Settling My Injury Case Quickly?

Insurance companies will usually give an initial settlement offer fairly quickly. Accepting this offer is generally not a good idea since you will not know the true value of your case, including your future damages and the extent of your injuries.

While accepting a quick settlement offer might be good for instant cash, you do not want to trade your right to pursue any additional compensation you deserve.

Avoid Settling Too Quickly With an Insurance Company

Accepting the insurance company’s initial offer provides a quicker resolution than engaging in settlement discussions or pursuing a court trial. However, doing so also has its fair share of disadvantages:

  • By agreeing to the initial offer, you may not be fully aware of how severe your injuries are or how they would impact you in the long run.
  • Once you accept the initial offer, you are barred from requesting more money from the insurance company if you later discover that your injuries are worse than anticipated.
  • Your settlement is most likely undervalued, and you lose your chance to forgo a more substantial settlement.

Settling a Car Accident Case Can Be Beneficial

Agreeing to a settlement can be advantageous because the involved parties will avoid the stress and cost of a potentially lengthy court trial.

In more complex cases, settling a car accident claim can take anywhere from 90 days to over a year.

Sometimes, settling the matter with the at-fault driver’s insurance is the most optimal strategy. However, if the at-fault party does not have enough coverage, the case may need to go to a trial.

How Long Do I Have to Wait for My Check After My Case Is Settled?

Once all the related documents are finalized, the insurance company will mail a check for your settlement. This process generally takes a week or two, sometimes longer.

When Will I Know the Amount of the Claim Payout?

The claim payout amount is typically determined during the settlement negotiation or after a court judgment. You should seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney when discussing the final settlement amount for your accident case.

What Can I Do to Avoid Delays in Receiving My Claim Settlement?

To expedite the claims process, take the following steps:

  • Provide complete details.
  • Ensure all necessary documents are organized and filed.
  • Maintain open communication with the insurance adjuster.
  • Submit claims on time.

What Happens If A Settlement Claim Takes Longer Than Anticipated?

Determining how much time a car accident settlement claim will require can be challenging. It’s best to speak to your attorney for the specifics.

There are many reasons why your personal injury or car accident settlement is taking a long time to process. Reasons can include the following:

  • Insurance company negotiations
  • Crash investigation
  • Determining the fault
  • Reaching maximum medical improvement

If a settlement claim takes longer than expected, it may be due to factors like multiple parties or complex issues.

While the situation can be frustrating, patience is essential for a satisfactory resolution. Consulting with your car crash attorney during delays is always the best course of action to navigate the process effectively.

Tip: Providing Sufficient Information to the Insurance Company for Setting a Reserve

A case reserve refers to the money the insurance company must set aside to pay your claim.

Suppose the adjuster sets the reserve too low on a large-limit policy. In that case, getting the case re-reserved to a level the insurance company can pay can take quite some time.

Immediately let the adjuster know how serious your injuries are in such instances.

Remember, You Get One Shot at Compensation

As soon as you accept an offer from the insurance company, there’s no turning back – even if your costs are higher. This is a good enough reason to have a car crash lawyer on your side during settlement negotiations. 

Whether or not you accept an offer is your decision. Still, your lawyer must review the offer and advise if it is in your best interests.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With a Car Accident Case

Some types of damages from auto accident cases are challenging to convert into a dollar amount. Often, the best way to gain compensation for such is to consult the legal advice of a qualified lawyer.

Hiring a trusted law firm’s personal injury attorney can also help increase the settlement claim. A personal injury attorney can help when insurance companies try to settle a case with lowball offers.

Getting the Right Lawyer

When you hire a car accident lawyer, insurance companies see that as a telltale sign that they will have to give you a fair settlement for your case. is your go-to resource when searching for an experienced attorney specializing in injury cases. You can narrow your search by using filters for name, state, and expertise to quickly and easily find a lawyer that best suits your legal problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is an auto accident settlement?

An auto accident settlement is a negotiated agreement between parties involved in a car accident to resolve legal claims related to injuries, damages, or other losses.

2. Why do insurance companies take so long to pay out?

Insurance companies often take time to process payouts due to the complexities of assessing claims. Some insurers also practice stall tactics, hoping that you may become willing to accept a low settlement offer.

3. Can you sue your insurance company for taking too long to pay a claim?

You can sue your insurance company if they improperly delay or deny a claim and you sustained more harm due to their actions.

4. Do insurance claim settlements have time limits?

The time an insurance company has to pay a claim settlement differs per state. In most cases, however, a reasonable timeframe should be around 30 days.

5. How long do you have to file a car accident lawsuit?

If you plan to file a lawsuit, you must act within your state’s statute of limitations (time limit to bring legal action).

6. How long does a car accident or personal injury lawsuit take?

Some vehicular accident claims are settled within weeks. However, more complex cases could take several months or even years.

7. How long does a whiplash claim take?

The time it takes to settle a whiplash claim is based on numerous factors. Suppose the insurer accepts fault right away and makes a fair compensation offer. In that case, the case will settle at a quicker pace.

8. How long does it take to recover from a car accident?

The recovery time varies depending on the severity of your sustained injuries. Minor injuries may heal within weeks, while more serious injuries might require months or even years of rehabilitation.

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