How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Work?

December 17, 2021 | Car Accidents

Getting into a vehicle accident can be a chaotic experience, particularly in the days and weeks that follow the incident. As you are working to secure compensation for your injuries and property damage expenses, the process can seem daunting. Here, we want to discuss how most car accidents settlement cases proceed forward, from the initial filing of the claim through to when a settlement check is received by the victim.

The Car Accident Claim Begins

Very soon after a vehicle accident occurs, it is crucial to file a claim with your insurance carrier and the insurance carrier of the other driver. When you report the accident to your insurance carrier, your insurance carrier is responsible for initiating contact with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.

We do want to caution you about speaking too freely with the insurance carriers involved. You will undoubtedly be contacted by the other driver’s insurance carrier. They will seem nice, but the reality is that they are looking for ways to limit how much money they pay you in a settlement. We encourage you to refer all questions to your Indianapolis personal injury attorney if you have one. Stick to the details of the case if you do have to speak to any insurance claims adjuster.

Investigation and Negotiation

After a claim has been started, the insurance carriers involved will investigate the incident. They will examine all of the evidence gathered from the scene of the incident and work to determine fault. If the other driver in your crash was at fault, and this is fairly clearly demonstrated, then their insurance carrier will likely send you an initial settlement offer. Please know that the initial settlement offer is likely far below what you should actually receive.

You should use this initial offer as a starting point in negotiations. There may need to be substantial back and forth between you and your attorney and the other party’s insurance carrier. It is crucial that you receive enough coverage to pay for your medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you endure.

If fault is fairly clear in the incident, and if a fair amount of compensation is offered, a car accident claim could be resolved within a few weeks or a few months. However, that is not always the case.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If the other driver’s insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement, or if they deny the claim altogether, you and your attorney may have to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Once the claim enters the civil court system, it will likely take longer to recover compensation. However, this may be the only way for you to recover the compensation you are entitled to.

That said, it is still unlikely that your case will go all the way to a personal injury jury after a lawsuit is filed. During the discovery phase, where both sides exchange evidence, attorneys will continue negotiations. Going to trial is costly, and it can take quite a while. If both sides can reach a fair settlement agreement before this point, the case will conclude. Personal injury lawsuits surrounding car accidents can take anywhere from multiple months to a year or more to reach a conclusion.