Car accidents happen, even to the most cautious and attentive drivers. You may be stopped at a red light when a distracted driver fails to stop and collides with your vehicle. Suddenly, you face an unanticipated physical recovery involving costly medical bills, lost wages, and other negative consequences caused by someone else’s reckless and negligent actions. Fortunately, California allows auto accident victims to pursue compensation to assist with these unexpected financial burdens stemming from the collision. Most auto accident claims involve insurance companies that will investigate the incident and determine the worth of your claim. If you are coping with a car accident injury in Riverside County, you are likely wondering how long it will take until you receive your settlement. The timeline varies depending on several factors, so enlisting the guidance of an experienced car accident lawyer is the best way to get a more precise estimate. Your attorney will assess the details of your incident and take steps to maximize your auto accident settlement to support your physical and financial recovery.
Navigating the Aftermath of an Auto Accident
Car accidents happen every day throughout Southern California. Although many auto accidents are minor and cause minimal damage, crashes occurring at higher speeds or involving trucks or large vehicles can lead to severe injuries. In the moments after the collision, assess yourself and others at the scene for any injuries. If you or someone else needs immediate medical attention, call an ambulance. You should also contact local law enforcement so the responding officer can compile a police report. The police report serves as an objective account of the circumstances and actions leading up to the accident. This information often helps you prepare your auto insurance claim when the time comes. Even if you do not require immediate medical attention, you should schedule a visit with your doctor within the next few days to screen for harder-to-detect injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries or internal bleeding. Obtaining medical documentation of your injuries shows that you are taking this incident seriously, and the information will be helpful in building an effective auto accident claim.
The Role of the Auto Insurance Company
When you report the accident to your car insurance company, it has 15 days to acknowledge your claim. The insurance company then has 40 days to determine whether to accept or dismiss your claim. If it accepts your claim, it will launch an investigation and offer you a settlement within 30 days. Essentially, California requires insurance companies to settle claims within 85 days of their filing date. Of course, several factors may delay this process, expanding the timeline beyond the 85-day window.
Severe Injuries Take Longer to Settle
Auto accident claims involving severe injuries usually take longer to reach a settlement. Victims suffering from multiple or complex injuries must undergo several evaluations to determine the nature and extent of these injuries. Some injuries may take months or years to heal, so you and your attorney must estimate the financial impact they will have on your current and future earning capacity. Although your eventual settlement offer may be significant, it will take longer to investigate, process, and settle your claim.
Determining Fault is Not a Clear-Cut Process
While some accidents are clearly caused by one driver (i.e., a distracted driver rear-ends you while you are stopped at a red light), many auto accidents involve parties who share the blame. Perhaps both drivers were not paying attention at the time of the collision, or a driver failed to signal when changing lanes while the other driver was texting at the time of impact. It can take time for the investigation to determine the degree to which each party was responsible for the accident. As a comparative negligence state, California allows a party to recover the amount of compensation proportional to their degree of fault in causing the accident. For example, if the investigation determines that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, you will only be able to recover 80 percent of the total settlement you’re awarded.
Negotiating the Settlement Offer
Most auto accident victims want to recover compensation as quickly as possible to start paying off the bills incurred by the incident. Unfortunately, insurance companies will use this eagerness to their advantage, making an initial lowball settlement offer in the hopes of the victim accepting it as quickly as possible. However, accepting an initial offer often denies you the maximum value of your claim. Working with an experienced and trusted Temecula auto accident lawyer is the best way to ensure your best interests remain protected at all times. Your attorney can push for a more favorable settlement, and insurance companies usually want to avoid litigation and will work with you to reach a more reasonable settlement.
If you need help recovering compensation following an auto accident injury in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, at (951) 489-3320 to get started.