Following a car accident, victims often experience financial strain. Repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed vehicles is expensive. Physical injuries require medical care, and medical care is costly. Victims may be out of work temporarily or permanently, depending on the extent of the injuries, so while bills increase, income decreases.
A settlement can provide much-needed financial relief, but that relief does not appear overnight, and many victims are left wondering how long it will take their car accident claim to settle. To ensure the process moves as efficiently as possible, and to get answers to your question, secure representation from a car accident lawyer from Shelly Leeke promptly after your accident.
Start the Legal Process Soon
The sooner you file your claim, the sooner you will see a settlement. There are other reasons to start the process quickly. South Carolina has a three-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits. If you miss that deadline, you lose the opportunity to get a settlement.
By securing legal representation quickly, you ensure your car accident lawyer from Shelly Leeke Law Firm will have access to evidence while it is still “fresh” and available. For example, witness information is less likely to have changed, and accessing traffic or security camera recordings will be more productive.
You should not speak to any insurance adjusters, even your own, about fault or a settlement without first speaking to an attorney. In fact, let your attorney be your voice and handle these communications. Insurance companies want to avoid paying large settlements and will often try to coerce victims into accepting fault or agreeing to a low settlement. When you have a legal advocate speaking for you from the start, you avoid those risks.
Investigations Take Time
To build a strong case, your lawyer must conduct a thorough investigation of the car accident itself and the consequences you have suffered. Along with other information, your lawyer will collect:
- Official accident reports and information from responding officers
- Documentation of your medical interventions, care, prognosis, and costs
- Testimony from accident witnesses
- Statements from your family and caregivers
- Information about road conditions, traffic signals, or other relevant conditions
- Information on car or part manufacturers and inspectors if a vehicle or part malfunction played a role in the accident
Depending on the factors contributing to your accident, this investigation can take weeks or months.
Your Lawyer Will Make a Demand that Meets Your Needs
When a car accident lawyer evaluates your case, you can rest assured the settlement demand will be adequate to meet your needs. Victims do not always realize the extent of their financial needs and what they require for a stable future. Your lawyer has the experience to calculate an amount to recover your economic damages and acknowledge your non-economic losses including:
- Costs for medical care and treatment already received and what you will require in the future
- Lost wages from days missed at work, and future lost earnings if you cannot return to work at all or can only work in a diminished and lower-earning capacity
- Property destroyed or damaged in the accident
- New accident-related expenses, perhaps for help with childcare or household responsibilities, or for adjusting your home to accommodate your changed abilities if your injuries are especially severe
- Decreased enjoyment and quality of life if your injuries prevent you from engaging in daily activities, social engagements, or other events you did prior to your accident
- Physical and emotional pain caused by the accident
Negotiating with the At-Fault Party’s Representatives
Once your lawyer makes the demand, negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company or other representatives begin. Most likely, the at-fault party will not agree to your attorney’s initial demand, especially if you bear some fault for the accident.
In South Carolina, victims who hold less than 50% of the fault for an accident can file a claim with the at-fault party. If you meet that standard but own some fault, say 20% for argument’s sake, your settlement amount is reduced by 20%.
The at-fault party’s insurance adjusters will do their best to put as much blame as possible on you. Your lawyer will argue otherwise. These negotiations can take several weeks.
What You Can Expect if Negotiations Succeed
In most cases when an agreement is reached, the at-fault party’s insurance company issues a check within a few weeks. Your attorney will put the check in an escrow account, pay off any of your outstanding bills, and deduct legal fees. Then, your lawyer will send you a check for the remaining amount.
Additional factors may increase the time you wait to see your check. Insurance companies may require additional signed or notarized documents, or the accounting department may drag its feet as the company is not in a rush to make a payout. If your accident happened out-of-state or involves out-of-state banks, the payment process may move more slowly.
When Negotiations Fail
If the at-fault party does not make a fair offer, your lawyer will take your case to court should you choose to pursue that option. Your lawyer will file a complaint, and the at-fault party will be served with a lawsuit notice.
After this, your case enters the “discovery” phase. Your lawyer and the at-fault party’s lawyer will dive even deeper into the case, collecting additional evidence. Each side must share its discoveries with the other.
This process usually takes months or even a year. During discovery, the at-fault party can still make a settlement offer at any time. If they do, you will most likely see a check within weeks. If they do not, your lawyer will take your case to trial. Waiting for a court date takes longer than the trial itself, which usually lasts a couple of days.
Move Closer to Your Settlement with a Call to Shelly Leeke Law Firm
After an accident, you need financial relief as quickly as possible. Though the time it takes to receive a settlement varies from one car accident to the next, a lawyer will make sure the process moves as smoothly and swiftly as possible. You can call or message Shelly Leeke Law Firm to schedule a free consultation 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Do not wait another minute. Contact us today.