How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement Check From a Car Accident?
Following an Arizona car accident that wasn’t your fault in which you suffered injuries, waiting for your case to settle so that you can receive a settlement check from a car accident claim can be maddening. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might face rapidly piling medical bills combined with wage losses while you are unable to return to your job.
Negotiating with the insurance company and resolving your outstanding disputes can take a long time. Once you reach a settlement agreement with the help of your attorney and have signed the settlement release, you likely hope you will receive your settlement check immediately. Unfortunately, however, you might still have to wait several weeks before the insurance company sends a check to your attorney’s office, and the money is then released to you. Here is some information from the attorneys at Lamber Goodnow about how long it might take for you to receive a check from a car accident settlement.
The Negotiation Process
Before you can reach a settlement agreement so that a check can be sent to your attorney by the insurance company, your attorney will first need to complete the negotiation process. This process begins with your attorney’s investigation of what happened beginning with when you retain them. Before you can receive an initial offer, the following three things will need to happen:
- You have reached your maximum medical improvement or have completed your treatment, for which the time can range from a few days to a couple of years based on the severity of your injuries.
- Your attorney has received all of your medical records, doctor’s reports, bills, and other documentary evidence to support your claim, which can also vary based on the severity of your injuries and the volume of the medical records and reports. The time needed to obtain these records might be several days up to a few months.
- Once your attorney drafts and sends the demand package to the insurance company, it will likely take from 15 days up to three months for the insurance company to send its response. The response time varies among insurance carriers.
Below is a closer look at each of these three factors and how they might affect how long it will take your case to settle.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement or Completing Treatment
Before your case can be settled, you will either need to complete your treatment and fully recover from your injuries or reach your maximum medical improvement. This is the point at which you might need additional treatment but you will likely not recover any more than you already have. As an alternative, your attorney could ask a medical expert to provide an estimate of the costs of the future treatment you will need.
The need to reach maximum medical improvement or to complete treatment is one of the leading causes of settlement delays in cases involving serious injuries. However, your attorney can help to expedite the process by asking your doctors to write reports that include estimates of your reasonably expected future medical costs.
Obtaining the Relevant Medical Records and Bills
Settlements in car accident claims are almost entirely based on the information contained in the victims’ medical records. The information included in the medical records provides details about the extent and severity of the injuries, the likelihood of the victim’s full recovery, and future anticipated treatment that could be reasonably expected. For this reason, your attorney will need to obtain all of your medical records and bills that relate to your car accident injuries. The medical records can then be used to calculate the value of your claim and negotiate with the insurance company to obtain a settlement agreement.
Demand Letters and Responses
Once your attorney has investigated your case, reviewed your medical records, and calculated your claim’s value, they will draft a demand letter and package. The demand package will be sent to the insurance company. The demand letter will include details about what happened in your case, your causes of action, your injuries, and a demand for a settlement for a specific monetary amount. Together with the letter, the package will include other evidence to support your claim, including copies of relevant medical bills, medical records, and others. Once the insurance company receives the demand package, it will take time to evaluate your claim. In most cases, the process should only take about three weeks, but many companies take longer to respond. Your attorney will continue to check with the insurance company to ensure it responds promptly.
Insurance companies can respond in one of three ways. The company might accept your demand and agree to a settlement. It might instead make a counteroffer. If it does, your attorney can continue negotiating with the company to try to resolve your claim and settle it. Finally, the insurance company could dispute liability and refuse to settle. In that case, your attorney will have to file a formal lawsuit and pursue your case in court. The court litigation process can be lengthy and could take months to a few years. Cases involving serious injuries sometimes require formal lawsuits to be filed before they can be fairly resolved through a settlement or verdict.
Time to Resolve Your Case
Many car accident claims are successfully resolved outside of the court process through settlements. Many clients want to get their money as fast as possible because of their mounting bills and losses. However, if you settle your case too early, you might not receive all of the compensation you should receive for your losses. In many cases, insurance companies later send settlement offers after our attorneys file lawsuits during the discovery process. These post-lawsuit offers are frequently larger than what the insurance companies might have considered before the filing of the lawsuits.
The process of negotiating and resolving your case can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. This process must be completed before you will receive a check from a car accident claim. The following factors could increase how long it might take for you to receive a settlement check:
- Serious injuries
- Little proof of liability
- Poor quality evidence
- Uncertainty about when the victim might reach maximum medical improvement
- Disputed liability
- Conflicts in the calculation of damages
- Multiple defendants
- Accidents involving wrongful death
If you have to litigate your case through trial to recover compensation, your case might not be resolved for a year or more. Working with an experienced Arizona law firm like Lamber Goodnow could help to expedite the process so that you can receive compensation more quickly. You won’t be waiting to receive a check until after you sign the settlement agreement or the judge has entered the jury’s verdict as a judgment in court.
The Wait Following a Settlement Agreement
Once you have signed a settlement agreement and waiver, most auto insurers mail checks within 30 days. Most companies will send checks within two weeks. However, it could take several months if the insurance company requires everyone to sign releases. Other factors that could lengthen the wait include healthcare provider liens, court costs, and attorney’s fees. These will need to be resolved and deducted from the settlement amount before the check will be issued to you.
Speak to Lamber Goodnow
Each car accident case is different, so the time it might take for you to receive a check will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. You might receive compensation within a couple of months to a few years. The length of time can be affected by multiple factors as discussed above.
When you retain an experienced car accident attorney, they can help you navigate the various factors and negotiate for you in the most efficient way possible. An attorney can handle all aspects of your case for you while you work on recovering from your injuries. To learn more about your potential legal rights, contact Lamber Goodnow today to schedule a free consultation.