How Long Do Auto Accident Claims Take?
From the very moment you are injured in a car accident, the clock begins. In Colorado, you may have as little as 180 days to file a claim against the at-fault driver—and insurance companies know this. Even while you are still hospitalized and recovering, they may begin applying pressure to reach a settlement. It’s in their best interest to get you to agree to a settlement quickly—and before the full extent of your injuries is known.
To get injured accident victims to accept a low-ball settlement, insurance companies often appeal to their need for quick compensation. Accident victims need money now to pay for medical expenses and car repairs, as well as to offset missing paychecks. The insurance company may grossly exaggerate just how long it will take to settle an auto accident claim in an attempt to reduce their own liabilities. Don’t be fooled. Never sign any settlement without first speaking to an experienced Colorado car accident lawyer about your case. Your attorney will be able to review your accident and your injuries and give you a better idea of just how long it will take to settle your auto accident claim.
Factors That Can Affect Resolution Time
What insurance companies don’t tell you is that claim resolution depends on many factors, including:
- Type of claim – Insurance claims can take weeks or years to resolve depending on the type of claim filed.
- Roadside assistance claims – Reimbursement for roadside assistance usually takes a few weeks to resolve.
- Glass claims – Reimbursement for auto glass repair only takes a few days to resolve.
- Physical damage claims – This type of claim is for damage done to your vehicle. These claims can take two to six weeks to finalize and are dependent on having the damage to your vehicle assessed by a qualified mechanic or body shop.
- Medical claims – This type of claim takes longer to finalize. The extent of the injuries and the long-term effects of the injuries may take awhile to become fully realized. Medical claims are usually not finalized until after treatment is concluded.
- Injuries sustained – The extent of your injuries will affect how long it takes to finalize your auto accident claim. The more severe the injury, the longer it will take for the damages to be assessed. In general, medical treatment must be concluded before a claim can be finalized or the victim must reach maximum medical improvement. If future surgeries or medical procedures have not yet been performed, your lawyer must ask the doctor for an estimate of what future expenses are likely to be incurred. This is often the biggest reason for a delay in settling a serious injury claim.
- Who is liable – If there is no dispute regarding liability, then claim resolution may happen quickly. However, when there is a discrepancy over who is to blame for the accident or if there are multiple parties to blame, then it may take longer to settle your car accident claim. Colorado is a 50 percent modified comparative negligence state. This means that the degree to which you are to blame affects the amount of compensation you receive. For instance, if you are determined to be 5 percent to blame for the accident and your injuries, then you would be responsible for 5 percent of the damages. However, if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault for any accident, then you are not eligible to receive any amount of compensation.
- Damages involved – If you are seeking reimbursement for damages done to your vehicle or to your property, then the amount of time it will take to settle your claim will be considerably less than those seeking to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of quality of life are all difficult to quantify and may result in disputes with the insurance company.
How Does Third-Party Involvement Affect Your Claim?
If you are filing a third-party claim after a car accident, the resolution time will increase. A third-party claim is handled by the other driver’s insurance company and it requires proof of liability. Before the other driver’s insurance company agrees to pay your claim, there must be clear evidence that the other driver caused your accident and your injuries. To establish liability, your attorney may need to perform a thorough investigation of the accident, including a re-creation of the crash. Expert witness testimony may need to be obtained, black box data subpoenaed, police reports examined, and crash scene evidence gathered in order to fully establish liability and reach a third-party settlement.
Unfortunately, investigating an accident and gathering evidence can take time. This may lengthen the resolution process for car accident claims considerably, especially if there is any dispute as to who is to blame. While your lawyer is busy gathering evidence to build your case and establish liability, the other driver’s insurance company will be doing the same. Their goal will be to pin some of the blame for the accident on you, thereby reducing the settlement amount.
During their investigation, the insurance company has a right to inspect all damage and to obtain their own estimates of repair costs. They also have a right to investigate the accident and your injuries closely to determine if you are as injured as you claim to be. During this time, retain the services of an experienced and skilled car accident attorney immediately. Your lawyer will need to work quickly to gather the evidence needed to win third-party claims and protect your right to full compensation.
Waiting for a Response
Insurance company delays in responding to demand packages can also result in a longer process. Once liability has been established and injuries treated, a settlement demand is sent to the insurance company with all the information necessary to resolve your claim. Once this occurs, a claim is more often resolved within three to four weeks. However, there are times when insurance companies wait longer than usual to respond. Your lawyer will need to follow up with the insurance company to keep your case at the front of the line and to ensure that the insurance company delivers a settlement offer quickly, or at least within 60 days.
Once a settlement offer is received, the negotiation process begins. While this negotiation process can take time as well, an experienced lawyer can expedite the process and keep the ball rolling. A good law firm team will stay on top of things during this time so that insurance companies don’t delay unnecessarily.
We’re There When You Need Us
Who you choose as legal representation after an accident will have a huge impact on your ability to collect the compensation you deserve. At McDivitt Law Firm, our Colorado car accident attorneys keep pressure on insurance companies and we know how to expedite claims quickly for our clients. We always seek maximum compensation and we work tirelessly throughout the legal process to ensure favorable results.
If you are injured in a car accident in Denver, Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or anywhere in the state of Colorado, speak to an experienced car accident attorney. At McDivitt Law Firm, we have offices conveniently located throughout Greater Colorado. With offices in Downtown Colorado Springs, North Colorado Springs, Denver, Aurora, and Pueblo, our attorneys are ready to assist you quickly so that you can obtain the money you need to recover. We offer free consultations, so you can better understand your rights and options. Call us today!Back to the Blog