Statute of Limitations in Maryland for Personal Injury ClaimsSeptember 19, 2022
Maryland Car Accident Laws (Ultimate Guide)December 20, 2022
Average Car Accident Settlement Time
You have just had a car accident, suffered injuries and damages, and you think you might have a claim against another driver. The next thing you are thinking about is the average time for car accident settlement, as you need to get back on your feet and pay the medical and everyday bills necessary for living. With the help of a reputable car accident attorney, you will be freed from the need to deal with insurance companies and instead focus on your recovery.
The car accident settlement follows a general timeline of steps. However, the length of each step depends on various factors and can vary significantly – it could take several months or even a few years. In this blog post, you will find the most important information about the car accident settlement timeline.
About Car Accidents in Maryland: A Few Important Facts
As a part of the traditional “at-fault” system, an injured person in a car accident must prove fault on the part of another driver.
Types of damages available in such cases are economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to tangible losses like car damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. They represent specific costs you have sustained due to the car accident. Non-economic damages include more abstract costs like physical pain, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, etc.
3 Things That Need to Happen Before a Car Accident Settlement Offer
There are some things that must happen before you get your settlement check for car accident:
- The victim fully recovered or reached MMI – This means that the injured person does not need further medical treatments or is at MMI – it is a point where despite continued medical treatments, the patient will not experience further improvement. The timeline is anywhere between 1 day and several years.
- Medical records and bills must be obtained – The most important variable in this stage is medical records, as they represent the connection between injuries and the car accident. They also serve as a key source for insurance companies to estimate the value of damages. In some cases, these records are enough. However, sometimes we need expert medical opinions to give an estimate of future medical expenses or resolve some ambiguity in the medical records.
- Waiting for demand letter response – After the demand letter with all the relevant information is sent, the insurance company needs time to evaluate the claim. In most cases, it needs between 15 and 90 days. However, it is not mandatory for them to respond at all. Hence, a dedicated personal injury lawyer must follow up with the insurance company and keep your case at the front of the line.
Car Accident Settlement Timeline
As we know, every car accident case is different, and the time it takes to settle can vary based on the facts and details of each case. It can take anywhere from a few months to several years to resolve, as there is plenty to investigate. If you suffered serious or life-threatening injuries and property damage, it is obvious why the process takes so much time.
A general overview of the accident settlement offer will give you an idea of how the settlement works:
- Sending a demand letter – A demand letter is sent to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The letter must contain information about what happened, the extent of the victim’s injuries, and the intent to file a personal injury lawsuit if the damages are not paid before a deadline. In some cases, this will lead to a fair settlement offer. In others, the deadline will pass, and we come to the next step.
- Negotiation – In the majority of situations where an offer is received from the insurance company, there is a period of time during which your lawyer will attempt, with your participation, to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company which is favorable and acceptable to the client.
- Filing a complaint – A complaint is filed in court and initiates the car accident lawsuit. The complaint is served on the at-fault party, and some studies show that it can take up to two years for the car accident case to go to trial or reach a disposition.
- Answering the complaint – In the answer, the at-fault party might admit or deny the allegations specified in the complaint.
- Discovery process – It serves to uncover all the evidence of the case. The common sources of evidence include medical records and bills, photographs and videos, the police report, details about the property damage, depositions of the drivers involved, and witness statements. As all the evidence is discovered, it will soon become clear how much compensation the plaintiff deserves.
- Trial – The court will set a trial date if no settlement is reached. It may even schedule mediation to try to settle without a trial. During the trial, the judge or jury will evaluate the case and make a judgment.
Factors that Determine How Long Do Car Settlements Take
We cannot predict precisely how long the car accident case will take to settle. Simple cases do not take as much time, while complex ones may even take several years. Some most common factors are:
- Responsibility is unclear: When the insurance company questions fault, it may be reluctant to settle. If it is not obvious who caused the accident, the case will likely take longer to resolve.
- Several involved parties: If there is more than one party liable for the accident, that can complicate your case as the lawyer must identify what really happened.
- The severity of injuries: If you suffer severe injuries and property damage, the high cost of medical care, long recovery times, and permanent disabilities can slow down the process. The insurance company may try to decrease the amount of damages it has to compensate. Also, if the victim has not reached MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) before the statute of limitations has approached, it may push back the best moment for a lawsuit.
- The presence of previous injuries: Proving that the injuries you sustained are a result of the car accident is crucial. In case you have previous injuries, the insurer may try to demonstrate that your injuries did not result from the crash.
- Going to court: Although a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that only 3% of car accident cases go to trial, there are instances where the insurance does not settle fairly. In that case, you will need to go to court, which can lengthen the process significantly.
Why is My Car Accident Settlement Taking so Long?
There are numerous reasons why your settlement takes too long to resolve. Let’s mention the most common ones:
- Whether there are material facts in dispute, like fault and extent of the injuries
- Parties’ unwillingness to compromise
- Your lawyer wants to be sure that you reached MMI
- The victim’s intent to go to court
- Whether the defendant is insured
- The insurance company believes that the claim was made in bad faith
- Defendants may recognize they have a losing case, so they want to drag it out as much as possible
- The court might be backlogged
- Waiting for the medical records
- Waiting for the insurance company to respond
- A car accident lawyer neglected the case.
How Long Do Car Accident Claims Take? Contact Dubo Law & Find All the Answers!
If you want to get your claim evaluated by top-rated Maryland car accident injury lawyers, it is time to contact Dubo Law at (443) 275-6345. We offer free and no-obligation case analysis; you can rest assured that our legal team will take all the necessary steps to ensure your damages are compensated either via settlement or litigation. We will make sure that you receive fair compensation but also receive it promptly.
Author: Neil Dubovsky, founder and principal at Dubo Law, LLC
Neil Dubovsky graduated with Honors and magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2002. He received the prestigious Faculty Award, which was awarded to the student who best “exhibited unusual qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.” Neil also received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell – the highest rating possible. He is rated as one of the Top 100 Civil Trial Lawyers in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association and selected to the 2022 Maryland Super Lawyers list. Neil is a husband and father of two beautiful girls.
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