How Long Does it Take to Get Settlement Money from a Car Accident?

Even though financial support for your injuries, property damage, and other losses cannot truly make up for the unfortunate event, it is necessary to alleviate your ensuing financial struggles, treatment, recovery, and other losses.

Photo of T-Bone Car Crash

However, receiving compensation for your damages isn’t always straightforward and various factors can affect the timeline for receiving your settlement award from a car accident in California. 

Here are the main factors that determine how long it takes to get your compensation.

Determining Liability 

Anyone can make accusations in a car accident. However, determining liability is a different story and one of the most crucial elements in establishing your settlement amount and how long it will take you to receive it.

When determining liability, an investigation into the accident will ensue, which can last for several days or weeks, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, the process will be quicker if liability for the car accident is clear.

However, since California follows the comparative negligence system, even victims who are partially at fault for the accident may recover some compensation.

Since the percentage of fault will minimize settlement claims, all parties involved in a car accident will often try to shift most or all the blame to each other. In these instances, attorneys and insurance adjusters will closely investigate the circumstances of the accident to establish fault and determine how much fault should be assigned to each party.

In cases where the percentage of fault is contested, or other complexities ensue, determining liability may take a long time, and further investigation will be needed to correctly establish liability before reaching a resolution.

Medical Treatment and Recovery

Victims who suffer injuries during car accidents cannot accurately calculate the full cost of their injury expenses right away. In many cases, the extent of the injuries sustained in the car accident and the recovery time required for medical treatment and recovery will directly influence the settlement timeline.

This is because victims must reach maximum medical improvement to be able to accurately calculate the full extent of their physical and mental damages. This is why most car accident lawyers recommend victims not accept a settlement or engage in negotiations shortly after the accident.

To ensure fair compensation for your injuries and other damages, it is crucial to know the full extent of your medical expenses. Having a proper car accident attorney by your side will help, as they are familiar with car accident cases and well-versed in negotiations.

Lost Wages

Another factor to consider are any lost wages you will incur as a result of the accident impeding your ability to work. If the recuperation process takes a long time, you will have more lost wages and, therefore, more grounds for a higher settlement amount to compensate you for your lost income.

Settlement Negotiations

If you have an attorney who properly prepares your case and handles the negotiations skillfully, you may receive your settlement money faster. There will be various offers, counteroffers, and discussions between your attorney and the at-fault party’s legal representation or insurance company.

Your attorney can ensure you aren’t being offered a low settlement amount, defend your rights, and  get to a resolution faster.

The complexity of your case and the willingness of the other parties to negotiate will influence the duration of this phase. However, not reaching an agreement and pursuing litigation can delay a settlement.

White Crashed Car

The Litigation Process

Sometimes, the other parties or entities will not agree to a settlement amount, no matter the strength of your evidence and legal representation. However, this does not necessarily mean the opposing party believes they can win the case.

In many situations, they might be trying to delay your payment. However, once the litigation phase begins, the following factors can occur:

  • A personal injury lawsuit is initiated under the guidance of your lawyer with your approval
  • The discovery phase starts, where the evidence and information between parties are exchanged
  • Pre-trial proceedings
  • The trial

Once you file a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will gather more evidence to strengthen your case, including working alongside other professionals such as medical experts or accident reconstruction specialists.

A car accident lawsuit can take weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the case, the available evidence, and the court’s availability.

Insurance Company Processing

In instances where litigation isn’t necessary because the parties reach a settlement agreement, the insurance company will need to process the paperwork and release the settlement funds. This process involves internal review, approval, and coordination between various parties.

However, getting the settlement money in car accident cases in California can take anywhere from a couple of months  to a year, or longer in complex cases where severe injuries require long-term treatment or the involved parties cannot reach a resolution.

Working with auto accident attorneys can make the process of receiving your settlement money easier, more accurate, and, in some cases, faster. A car accident lawyer will explain your legal options and negotiate on your behalf. While you rest and heal, they will guide you throughout the process, keeping you updated on the specifics of your case and providing you with a clear understanding of when you will receive your deserved settlement amount.

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