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How Long Will it Take to Settle My Pennsylvania Car Accident Claim?

Posted September 1, 2016 | Car

An experienced Philadelphia auto accident attorney like Brent Wieand can help you fight for injury compensation after you have been hurt in a car crash in Pennsylvania.  As you begin the claims process, which may be unfamiliar to you, you are probably feeling anxious to know what you can expect in the days ahead.  This article will help give you a clearer idea of how long it may take to settle your car accident claim.  However, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer for personalized legal guidance specific to your case.  Every claim is different, and only after reviewing your situation in detail can an attorney estimate the worth or timeline of your case.  

Factors That Affect the Timeline of a Car Accident Claim

Unfortunately, it is difficult to say how long it will take to resolve your case without reviewing your claim in detail.  Some claims settle in a matter of months or even weeks, while others take years to resolve completely.  While it is hard to pinpoint exactly where a given claim will fall on this spectrum of possibilities, there are several factors that can speed up (or slow down) the process.

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One of the most important factors is the nature and severity of your injuries.  While some injuries, such as open fractures, are immediately obvious, there are many common car accident injuries, such as whiplash and traumatic brain injuries, whose full effects take time to become apparent.  You should not start negotiating a claim until you have reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI), or peak state of recovery, which may take several months or longer.  

The logic behind waiting is simple: if you don’t know how serious your injuries are while you are in the process of negotiating, you could inadvertently accept a settlement that is much lower than the amount you actually need to cover your future medical costs.  Once you accept a settlement, it’s too late to seek additional compensation if your medical costs turn out to be higher than expected.  Until you discuss your long-term prognosis and future care plan with your physician, do not rush to accept a settlement.

While you should wait for MMI to enter settlement negotiations, there are still a few actions you can take to get the claims process started in the meantime.  After you are in a car accident, you can (and should) notify your insurance company about the crash.  You should also call the police after a car crash, so that an accident report can be created.  Finally, you should start gathering evidence, such as medical records and photographs of the damage to your vehicle.  Of course, it’s important to avoid overexerting yourself while you are healing.  Just focus on resting, and let your attorney handle the process of tracking down evidence.

Injury severity ties into another factor that influences the length of the settlement process: injury cost, or the amount of compensation you are seeking.  For obvious reasons, insurance companies are more willing to part with small sums, so if your medical expenses were minor, the insurer may agree to your demands with minimal resistance, keeping the process short.  

On the other hand, if you sustained permanent or severe injuries and have large medical expenses, the insurance company is more likely to counter your initial demand with a lower figure.  The more demands and counteroffers pass back and forth, the longer it will take to complete the negotiation process.

These delays can be very frustrating, but persistence and patience often pay off – quite literally.  Insurers typically want to do anything possible to avoid going to trial, so by utilizing a firm, aggressive, evidence-oriented negotiation strategy, it may be possible to persuade the claims adjuster to raise a low settlement offer to a much more reasonable figure.

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What Happens if the Insurance Adjuster Refuses to Make a Settlement Offer?

In some cases, insurers deny liability outright, which can greatly extend the timeline of a your claim. If an insurer denies your claim, the next step is to file a lawsuit to enforce your rights in court. An experienced trial attorney can help guide you through the litigation process and position your case for settlement, ADR (such as mediation or arbitration) or a jury trial.

Contact a PA Injury Attorney with Experience Negotiating with Auto Insurance Companies

If your claim is initially denied, don’t panic and don’t give up.  Talk to an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney about your legal options for getting compensated.  Call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (877) 654-3887 right away to discuss your Pennsylvania injury claim in a free and confidential legal consultation.  

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*