Hand Holding a Clock Showing How Long a Case Can TakeIf you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a negligent driver in Southern California, your life could be turned upside down. You may be off work for months or longer while receiving medical care for your injuries. Although the at-fault motorist’s insurance company could be liable to pay you compensation for your injuries, settling your claim could drag on for months, a year, or longer.

It can be stressful to have to wait for your settlement proceeds. Understanding why settling your claim may take so long can help you remain patient. In addition, you can make the process go faster if you hire an experienced car accident lawyer in San Diego to help fight for your rights.

Reason #1: Evidence Must Be Collected

You must prove that the negligent driver caused your auto collision, the seriousness of your injuries, and your damages to hold the negligent driver and their insurance company liable to compensate you under California law. You establish this through evidence.

Collecting all the evidence you need to prove your case could take a long time. However, if you obtain the necessary evidence, you will have a stronger case to help you obtain the maximum recovery in your settlement. Types of helpful evidence in a car accident case include the following:

  • Police report
  • Photos and video taken at the crash scene
  • Business surveillance footage
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Medical records and bills
  • Paystubs and other documentation of your wage losses
  • Repair estimates and receipts
  • Other motor vehicle’s black box
  • Insurance policies
  • Expert witness reports

Reason #2: You Have Not Yet Recovered From Your Injuries

You may be surprised to learn that how long it takes to recover from your injuries will impact when you can settle your claim. You should not accept a settlement offer until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the stage in your medical treatment where you fully recover from your injuries or as much as you will, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis.

Reaching your MMI can take a long time, especially if you have suffered multiple injuries. However, it is essential to wait for this to occur to better understand the amount of your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering you should receive in your settlement.

Reason #3: You Suffered Long-Term Injuries

If you suffered life-altering injuries, you could need medical treatments throughout your lifetime and be off work for long periods—if you do not become permanently disabled. The value of your claim would be higher. Because of this, the insurance company will likely fight longer and harder before settling your claim.

Reason #4: The Insurance Company Disputes Your Claim

Even if you have an ironclad case, the insurance company for the negligent driver could raise disputes or employ other tactics to deny your claim, delay paying you, or force you to accept less compensation than you deserve. Your attorney may need to collect additional evidence or hire an expert witness, such as an accident reconstruction expert, to resolve the issue. Here are common insurance company tactics to watch for:

  • Offering you a lowball settlement offer
  • Claiming you were entirely or partially at fault for causing the car accident when you were not at all to blame for the crash
  • Searching for information they can use to deny your claim or reduce the money they must pay you
  • Arguing that a pre-existing incident caused your injury
  • Disputing the seriousness of your injuries or the medical treatments you need
  • Asking for documents they do not need or requesting them in a piecemeal fashion
  • Denying your claim for no reason or an invalid reason

Reason #5: You Must Litigate Your Case

While most car accident claims are settled before a scheduled jury trial, not all are resolved out of court. You may need to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver if the statute of limitations, which is the deadline to sue, will expire soon or if the insurance company refuses to be reasonable. It could take you a year or longer to settle your case if your claim must be litigated.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
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