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5 min read

Timeline: Auto Accident Settlements and How Long it Takes


Settling a car accident claim can take a short time or a long time, depending on the case. If the accident is straightforward with no major disputes, it can be settled quickly, often within a few months. However, if the case involves serious injuries or if there's a disagreement about who was at fault, it could take much longer, even years.

The process includes several steps: healing from injuries to understand their full impact, collecting documents like medical records and repair estimates, and negotiating with insurance companies. If a lawsuit is filed, this can lengthen the time needed. Once everything is settled, it usually takes about 30 days to get the settlement check. Keeping in touch with your lawyer and knowing what to expect at each step can help make the process smoother and perhaps quicker.

Giving a clear answer to how long do injury settlements take is always going to be a complicated task. Here are some key steps to consider:

how long do car accident settlements take

Car Accident Settlements in 8 Steps

Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment (1-12 months)

Obviously, attending to a hip fracture or whiplash is a priority immediately after an MVA. Seeking proper medical treatment for injuries following your motor vehicle accident is time consuming, but necessary. Failure to do so can delay your recovery, your personal injury claims and impact your settlement amount. It is important to follow the guidance of your treating physicians until you reach a full recovery or maximum medical improvement. Depending on the severity of your injuries, extensive physical therapy may be required, this can take weeks to several months, especially for internal injuries that can be life-threatening. 

Step 2: Get Your Case Evaluated by a Lawyer (2-6 months)

Once you recover from your injuries or reach maximum medical improvement, your attorney will begin to collect evidence needed to support your damages. For example, your attorney will need to review all medical records and  medical bills, property damage estimates, lost wages and any out-of-pocket expenses you may have. The time it takes to gather this evidence varies—to a large extent depending on your treatment, but in general, can take anywhere from 2-6 months. The quicker you provide the information requested by your attorney, the better situated they will be able to assess your automobile accident lawsuit. 

Get in touch with Muller Brazil if you need a car accident lawyer in Philadelphia

Step 3: Send a Demand Letter (4-6 Weeks)

Once you have completed treatment, and your damages have been assessed, your attorney will most likely attempt to negotiate your car accident claim prior to filing a car crash lawsuit. They will typically start with sending a demand and typically receive a response within 4-6 weeks. 

Step 4: File an Insurance Claim (2-4 Weeks)

If you are unable to resolve your case prior to filing a court case, your attorney will initiate a lawsuit by preparing a complaint which you will review and verify. It will then be filed and served on each of the Defendants. From there, the Defendant(s) will have 20 days to file a response. 

Keep in mind that just because you file an auto accident lawsuit, your case will not necessarily go to a trial. In fact, a small percentage of cases do. Cases can settle at any time, including during trial. 

Step 5: Move to Discovery (6-12 months) 

The pace at which car accident lawsuits move depends on many factors including the jurisdiction you're in, the number of Defendants involved, and the complexity of the legal issues. The term known as discovery is a means for each of the parties to exchange information, assess damages, and establish defenses. The lawyers at Muller Brazil will walk you through each of these steps to make sure the information is complete and accurate, and portrays your case in the best way possible. Depending on the case, this can take anywhere from 6 months to a year.

Step 6: Mediate and Negotiate (2-4 Weeks)

Once discovery is complete, the parties have essentially laid their cards on the table. At this point, your attorney may recommend an alternative dispute resolution mechanism such as arbitration or mediation. This is a chance for both sides to listen to the strengths and weaknesses of their case and negotiate fairly. 

Step 7: Go to Trial (1-3 days)

A car accident trial can take a few days to a few weeks. It depends on how complex the case is, how much evidence needs to be looked at, and how many people need to speak about what happened. Simple cases are quicker, but complicated ones take longer.

Step 8: Settle

Reaching a car crash settlement is only one way to resolve your case. However, if you choose to settle, once you sign and return the release agreement, you will usually obtain your settlement check within 30 days. 

Auto Accident Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a settlement check from a car accident?

This depends on the facts of your case, but in general, anywhere between 9-18 months.

How long does it take to get an insurance check from a car accident case?

Once you return a signed release, you will likely see your check within 30 days.  However, the length of time it takes to receive a settlement check from a car accident can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent of the car accident injuries, and the negotiating skills of the attorneys involved.

In some cases, a settlement may be reached relatively quickly, within a matter of weeks or a few months. However, in more complex cases where there are disputes over liability, damages, or insurance coverage, it can take several months or even years to reach a fair settlement.

Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?

There are several reasons why the average car accident settlement may take longer than expected. Some of the most common reasons include:

  1. Complexity of the case: If the accident was particularly severe or involved multiple parties, the settlement process may be more complex and take longer to resolve. Individuals can deny valid personal injury claims which can extend the process of figuring out who is liable.

  2. Medical treatment: If you sustained injuries in the accident, the settlement process may be delayed until you have completed your medical treatment and your condition has stabilized.

  3. Investigation: The insurance company may conduct an investigation to determine who was at fault for the accident or to verify the extent of your injuries and damages.

  4. Negotiations: Negotiations between your attorney and the insurance company can take time, especially if there are disputes over liability or the amount of compensation you are entitled to.

  5. Court delays:  A Lawsuit for car accident settlements can end up in court. There may be delays in the legal process due to court backlogs or scheduling conflicts.

So how long do accident claims take? Car accident injury settlement processes can be delayedand it can seem like forever to get that settlement check after car accident. It is important to stay in contact with your personal injury lawyer and the insurance company to understand the status of your case and any potential roadblocks. From truck accidents to rear end collisions, experienced personal injury lawyers can help navigate the MVA settlement process and advocate on your behalf to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

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how long does a car accident settlement take


Meet the Author

Amy Senerth - Associate Attorney

Amy A. Senerth is a trial attorney at Muller Brazil and My Vaccine Lawyer. Ms. Senerth’s practice includes representing vaccine injury victims, and individuals who suffer catastrophic personal injuries as a result of unsafe drugs and medical devices, defective products, unsafe premises, auto, bicycle, and construction accidents. Prior to joining Muller Brazil, Ms. Senerth worked at a litigation firm specializing in worker’s compensation subrogation, and representing injured workers in third party and product liability cases.

Learn more about Amy Senerth ⇒