How long will it take to settle from a car accident if I have a lawyer?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

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How long will it take for the insurance company and me/my lawyer to come to an agreement on a settlement? To answer this question, there are many layers to drill down through. There are several online sites that walk through the beginning timeline of notifying your insurance company, collecting whatever detailed information you can. … And, then … the complications begin. Who was driving? Was it a one-car, two-car, multi-car accident? Was there personal injury? Who was at fault? Was there property damage other than the cars? … And, so on. One can be fairly sure that there are added complications to be found.

It is one thing to deal with your own insurance company. It is a whole other thing to have to deal with another party’s insurer, if you or your insurance company files a claim with the other insured’s company. Every state has its own laws on car insurance, and settlements. Massachusetts, for example, has “no fault”, which retards suing the other party’s insurer except for extraordinary expenses.

First of all, in nearly all jurisdictions in the United States, nearly every insurance company doing business as a car insurer in the United States is required to either reject a claim or to offer a settlement, allegedly a reasonable offer, within 60 days. The insurance company is not required to settle the claim in that timeframe, only to make the offer. Now, the ball is in the claimant / attorney’s lap.

Accept or reject the offer? If an attorney is involved, either the claimant (you), or your attorney, can reject the offer. Typically, an attorney will get 30 or so percent, plus expenses, from a settlement. If you leave the haggling and the settlement decision with your attorney, it is only natural to expect your lawyer to maximize the settlement. If you do not have a lawyer involved, the settling company will know this and likely cut out the lawyer’s 30 percent. Back and forth it will go. It is not unusual for claims to go unsettled for years, many years. What incentive is there for the insurance company to pay? No law that searching could find. What incentive is there for a lawyer to accept a settlement deemed to low? Other than to finish it off, there is no incentive. Who is left out the money, having the bills? You, the claimant, are the one with nothing. Another choice is actually sue the insurer. That is more time.

Once a settlement is made, in most jurisdictions, the insurer is required to send the settlement to the lawyer within 60 days. The lawyer is required, in most jurisdictions, to send the claimant what is left typically within 30 days. So, in this situation, you will have about 3 months wait.

Good luck, to anyone in this situation.

One last point … With the complications of injuries, negotiations will likely be a long, drawn out process. A recommendation, one man’s opinion, is get a lawyer who is worth the 30 percent, to get a reasonable settlement as early on as possible. In parting, let’s leave you with an interesting lawyer site as an example. [http://www.accidentlawyersmd.com/Practice-Areas/Obtaining-Fair-Settlement-Offers-from-Auto-Insurance-Companies.shtml]

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