People often ask how long it will take to settle a claim after a car accident because accidents can put their lives on hold. While there is no maximum limit for how long a car accident claim might take to settle, most claims resolve within 90 days to one year after the accident.
This may seem like a relatively wide time frame, but several variables go into determining how long the claims process takes. Settling a car accident claim also requires the accident victim and the at-fault driver (or their insurance company) to agree on a dollar amount that reflects the damage the accident victim suffered. That can be challenging for many reasons.
Settling Economic Damages After a Car Accident
If you’re an accident victim dealing with injuries and property damage you sustained in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you have the right to demand damages from the at-fault driver or liable party. Damages is a legal reference for the expenses you may incur due to the at-fault driver’s negligence. Examples of economic damages after a car accident include:
- Medical care costs and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost earnings and benefits
- Cost of repairs to any personal property damaged in the accident
- Rental car or replacement transportation costs while the claim is awaiting settlement
- Towing or vehicle transportation costs from the accident scene
- Because minor car accident damages may cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, South Carolina drivers must carry liability insurance. That means you’ll deal with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance carrier after the accident.
Here is where one of the biggest potential delays in settling your claim comes into play. First, the insurance company must wait until the total value of all the accident damages is tabulated. Second, insurance companies make money by taking in as many premium policy payments as possible while paying out the smallest amount possible in filed claims involving their policyholders.
Non-Economic Damages After a Car Accident
Accident victims suffer significant damage to their health and personal property because of car accidents. While the financial costs of healing from accident-related injuries and repairing (or replacing) damaged personal property constitute the economic damages you can demand as an accident victim, they don’t represent all the damages accident victims suffer.
The pain and suffering or mental anguish you experience after a car accident are non-economic damages. Things like the physical pain of accident recovery and the stress that comes with wondering when you can get back to work again don’t have fixed costs, but they take a toll on accident victims anyway. That’s why you can also demand economic damages in a car accident case.
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Points of Conflict in Negotiating Car Accident Claims
You have the right to demand non-economic damages after a car accident, but this can be a significant point of contention with the insurance company. Insurers’ annual profits are contingent upon minimizing insurance claim payouts to the maximum extent possible. On the other hand, you, as an accident victim, want as much for your claim as possible.
So, in addition to the time it takes for all the bills in your claim to be tabulated, the insurance company will likely be looking to shave dollars off every area of payout in damages. From the cost of repairs to your lost income, the insurance adjuster is paid to make the smallest, most conservative payout possible estimates or offers regarding settling your claim.
That unfortunate reality creates an adversarial relationship between you, the accident victim, and the insurance company. Settling an accident claim means you will be negotiating with the insurance company. That can be difficult, as many insurers could negotiate in bad faith or deny liability as a delay tactic so that you will accept less than you deserve.
What to Do if You Can’t Settle Your Accident Claim
Negotiating against an accident claim with an insurance company can be frustrating. However, you don’t have to negotiate with them at all. A car accident lawyer from Schiller & Hamilton can handle the most difficult aspects of settling an insurance claim and help you manage your expectations regarding how long your car accident case will take to settle. Specifically, we can represent you in claim settlement negotiations. However, if the negotiations fail, our accident lawyer can go to trial for you.
We can also help you with other things, such as keeping track of your accident-related expenses or gathering evidence that proves liability in your case. Our legal team collectively has 70 years of experience fighting for personal injury victims. So, if you think you’re being treated unfairly during the car accident claims settlement process, reach out to our office for a free consultation. We’re here to fight for you if you need us.