Following a car accident, personal injury victims often want to reach a settlement as quickly as possible to pay medical expenses and move on from the incident. However, settlements rarely happen quickly, and those that do often leave victims at a disadvantage if their injuries linger, worsen, or resurface later.
The time it takes to settle a personal injury case can vary from several months to several years, depending on the specific circumstances of the situation. Factors that can delay the final settlement include:
- Evaluation of total medical expenses hasn’t been determined
- Significant money is involved in the claim
- Evaluation of evidence from the incident is ongoing
- Legal barriers are preventing the settlement
Evaluation of Total Medical Expenses
It can take time for an injury to heal, and new symptoms or complications can often surface months and even years after the incident. This is especially true for those with traumatic injuries such as broken bones or injuries requiring surgery.
To get the most out of your personal injury claim, do not agree to a settlement until a doctor has confirmed that you have recovered completely. If you don’t wait, you may end up with additional medical expenses that will not be covered by the defendant’s insurance company.
The Claim Involves a Lot of Money
Insurance companies will usually resist paying claims with especially high medical expenses. Consequently, they will devote significant time and resources working to undercut your credibility, investigating your injuries, evaluating the strength of your defense, and gauging how likely you are to settle prematurely—due to financial restrictions, impatience, or other case-specific factors.
Evidence From the Accident Is Still Being Evaluated
As your medical and vehicle repair bills accumulate, it can take time to sort through the evidence to determine the damages. Evidence such as police reports, photographs from the accident, and personal history are evaluated, and attorneys will often interview the other driver and eye witnesses to gather as much information about the incident as possible. The entire process can be lengthy, especially for more complex matters or events that have resulted in particularly serious injuries.
Legal Barriers Are Postponing the Settlement
In Virginia law, negligence is not always absolute. Insurers may insist that the plaintiff holds partial fault for the accident—causing the injured plaintiff to lose a portion of the damages. Insurance companies may also investigate other factors to hinder the claimant’s legal right to sue. They may contend that the claimant received inadequate medical attention after the incident, and, consequently, this worsened or aggravated the injury. These and similar tactics allow insurance companies to challenge the validity of your claim or scare you into settling too quickly.
Quick Settlements Don’t Often Benefit Victims
Remember that an insurance company will do everything it can to save money. It is typically best for these companies to close a settlement before additional injuries surface or a new development holds them liable for more damages. However, in other cases, insurers may purposefully seek new reasons to postpone a settlement if they sense that you are in a rush to settle quickly.
An Attorney Can Make Sure Your Claim is Handled Appropriately
Sometimes a personal injury claim never reaches settlement, and the case goes to trial. An experienced attorney can guide you through the litigation process and help you decide whether to settle at a certain amount or proceed to court.
If you have been injured in a car accident and would like to learn more about your legal rights or the legal process, contact us today to get your questions answered. And for more information on personal injury claims in Virginia, feel free to check out our legal blog.