HOW LONG WILL MY CAR ACCIDENT CASE TAKE?
Having a car accident can cause so many issues: loss of your vehicle, lost work time, medical bills and the most serious issue, personal injuries.
If you are involved in a car accident that was not your fault, there are several ways that you can be compensated.
Your vehicle’s damage can be appraised and you can be compensated by your own auto insurer if you have collision coverage. If you do not have collision coverage, you will have to wait for the other person’s company to accept liability before you will be paid for the damage or a rental vehicle. This is why we encourage our clients to carry collision and rental coverage if they can afford to do so. If you have collision, this process should be quick. If you do not, it could take a few weeks or even months.
Your Medical Bills & Lost Wages:
Your auto insurance company will also carry PIP coverage – Personal Injury Protection. Massachusetts is a “no fault” state, meaning that your insurance company will pay your medical expenses and lost work time up front. Your bills ands wages should start to be paid within the first 30 days after your claim is submitted. Your company will be able to recover any funds paid out from the other person’s auto insurance if you were not at fault.
Your injuries will take time to heal and you will most likely need to be under the care of a medical treatment facility for several months. During that time, your lawyer will set up your claim with the other person’s auto insurance company and wait to see the extent of your injuries.
The time that your case will likely take will be dependent upon a few factors.
If your accident involved a state or city owned vehicle, it might slow down the process. If your accident involved an uninsured driver or a vehicle that left the scene of the accident, it might slow down the process. If you are on Medicare or have private health insurance, it might slow down the process to make sure your bills were paid by the correct source and no liens were generated.
How much with I get:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that every car registered in our state carry the following minium insurance limits:
Bodily Injury to Others $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
Personal Injury Protection $8,000 per person, per accident
Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
Damage to Someone Else’s Property $5,000 per accident
While many drivers will carry the minimum, others may purchase additional coverage, such as comprehensive or collision, with higher maximums. In a vehicle injury case, it is important to understand coverage maximums carried by your policy and that of the other driver, as insurance companies will not pay more than the applicable coverage limit of the policy. So if the responsible party only carries $20,000/$40,000 – the most one injured person could get from that policy is $20,000.
If your injuries are serious enough that you have incurred at least $2,000 in related medical expenses or you have sustained permanent and serious disfigurement, a fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight, you will be able to make a claim against the responsible driver.
In order to make sure I can obatin the highest settlement for you, we have to start by carefully documenting all past and expected future damages, including:
Pain and suffering
Other damages such as lost social opportunities with friends, difficulty cleaning and maintaining your home.
I will help you with identifying, documenting, and proving at trial (if necessary) the full damages to which you may be entitled. All of the above factors impact the value of your case. The length of your medical treatment, the amount of your medical bills, the damage to your vehicle, if you had a similar prior injury.
How long before I can get a settlement:
In some cases, compensation can be obtained without the need for filing a lawsuit. This is especially the case in situations where liability is clear, and the damages are not extensive.
If a claim cannot be settled, a lawsuit is the next step toward resolution. Generally, a lawsuit can take nine months to three years from the date of the filing. About 95% of civil ligation matters are settled prior to trial, average car accident cases typically take 1-2 years. Additionally, ancillary factors such as the number of people involved in the accident and their respective injuries, insurance policy limits, and medical bills may also affect the length of time it takes to resolve a case.
If liability is clear and your injuries resolve within the first year after the accident, then the case can most likely be settled out of court. This can take as little as 6 months from the date of the accident for a case with less injury to 18 months to 2 years for a case with a complex injury.
The take away here is that all legal cases are unique. There is not a formula that says how long each case will take. As your lawyer, I will be responsible for coordinating the information flow from you and your doctor to the insurance companies. However, some insurance companies or medical offices take several weeks or even months to respond. There are processing times for payments that your lawyer cannot control. A general estimate is that a clear-liability auto accident case can settle in as litte as 6 or 7 months, but most take about 1 year from the date of the accident itself. Always seek the advise of a trusted legal professional for assistance if you have been injured in an auto accident.