Factors that Affect the Length of Your Case
Depending on your car accident, your claim can take anywhere from several weeks to a few years. As a general rule, you can expect your car accident lawsuit to take one year. However, cases that involve serious injuries, questionable liability, or a potentially high settlement value will lengthen the time you spend when compared to less complex car accidents.
Reasons that your case may be delayed include:
- Severe injuries: If your case involves severe accident-related injuries, your case can be delayed while the extent of your injuries is determined. Your physician may be unsure about your recovery requirements yet your lawyer needs this information to calculate damages for your claim accurately.
- Controversial injuries: Some common car accident injuries such as whiplash or ambiguous pain can be challenging to back up with medical evidence. Insurance adjusters target these medical conditions to undermine authentic injuries and reduce your compensation amount. If you suffer from severe car accident injuries that are controversial, your case may be drawn out.
- Dealing with a difficult insurance company: Many insurance companies are quick and thorough when gathering evidence to undermine a victim’s claim amount; however, these same adjusters can move much more slowly when it comes time to pay. In Georgia, if an insurance company fails to pay a claim victim, the company could be held liable for the original amount plus additional damages up to 50% of the initial claim, not to surpass $5,000, and attorney fees. For uninsured motorists, an insurance company usually pays the claim around the 60-day mark after the accident. Uninsured motorists are only eligible for 25% of the original claim, and reasonable attorney fees if the insurance company demonstrates a “frivolous and unfounded refusal to pay a claim.” If you are dealing with an insurance company that doesn’t want to cooperate or finds your claim unreasonable, this could add weeks or months to the time it takes to settle.
- Your case goes to trial: If the insurance company that you are dealing with does not offer you a fair settlement amount, you may choose to file a civil claim to initiate additional steps in the legal process to reach a satisfactory settlement. In the end, you may have to take your case to trial.
An auto accident lawsuit involves:
- You, the plaintiff, or car accident victim, file your complaint to begin the civil suit.
- You then have a copy of the complaint served on the at-fault party (defendant).
- The defendant responds to the complaint, usually within a one-month time frame.
- Your attorney and the defendant's attorney will request and exchange evidence that will be used in the trial. This step is called “discovery” and typically takes several months but can last for up to a year or more.
- If a settlement isn't reached after discovery, the trial takes place. Auto accident trials usually last a day or two.
- If one of the parties is dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial, they have the opportunity to file an appeal which can add several years to the length of a case.
A car accident lawsuit typically takes at least one year, assuming there is no appeal. However, even though you begin a car accident lawsuit, it is still very likely that you will settle your case before a full trial is completed.
The Best Way to Settle Your Car Accident Claim
If you want to give yourself your best chance at a fair settlement amount after your car accident, retain a professional, experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Not only will your attorney work with you to accurately calculate costs related to your property damage, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, but your lawyer will have the skills and experience necessary to take your case to trial. If you are looking for a recommendation, the Atlanta personal injury attorneys at The Roth Firm, LLC are known for delighting clients and delivering outstanding results.