What is the Process and Timeline for a Car Accident Claim in California?

man-sitting-on-phone-accidentSustaining an injury or other damages from a car accident can make victims anxious to settle their claim. However, it is important to be patient and follow the advice of a knowledgeable lawyer to avoid settling for a lowball offer from the insurance company.

Below, the experienced Sacramento car accident lawyers at the Arnold Law Firm explain the necessary steps and the possible length of time it may take to settle a car accident claim.

Average Timeline

Although some car accident claims are processed within a matter of a few months, other cases may take longer, depending on the details of your situation. Your lawyer should be able to determine if you have a valid claim, estimate the compensation you may deserve and project the approximate length of time your claim could take.

If you suffered an injury in the accident, waiting until you are fully recovered may help determine the full amount of compensation your claim may be worth. Your doctor must determine that your injury is stable and will not improve further.

Negotiations and Settlements

The negotiations and settlements phase of your car accident claim may also take time but is an important step in the claims process.

After you have fully recovered from your injury, your lawyer will calculate your damages, such as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Once this is completed, your lawyer will write a demand letter to send to the insurance company asking them to cover your damages.

The insurance company will either send a payment to cover the damages, or they may try to give you a discounted offer to make a quick settlement. It is important to be patient and let your lawyer continue to negotiate on your behalf.

The negotiation process can go back and forth between your lawyer and the insurer for several weeks or months.

What Causes Delays?

Delays could be caused by several things, depending on the circumstances of your claim. Sometimes insurance companies may purposely dispute or ignore your demand letter to avoid making a big payout.

Insurers may also delay your claim by saying that you have not provided enough evidence about the severity of your injury and other damages. That is why it is important to keep documentation of all medical records, bills and other related expenses.  

Going to Trial

If negotiations fail, you and your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit and go to trial. Once the lawsuit is submitted, it could take a few months from the date you initially filed the lawsuit to receive a response from the defendant.

The next step is the pre-trial and discovery process, which can also be lengthy. Many car accident cases end up going to mediation before the trial date. However, it can take months before you get to this point.

If going to trial is necessary, it may not take place for over a year or more from the date of the accident.

Speak to a Licensed Attorney About Your Claim

If you wish to discuss your car accident claim with a licensed attorney, contact the Arnold Law Firm today at (916) 777-7777. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation and do not receive fees unless we recover funds for you.

Give us a call anytime, 24-7 at (916) 777-7777 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form.