When an injured victim starts considering the possibility of pursuing legal action, it's common for them to wonder, "How long does a car accident case take?". Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys in Houston, Texas, have extensive experience filing personal injury claims and recovering millions of dollars for their clients.
Those who have been injured in a car accident in Houston, Texas, should contact the experienced auto accident lawyers in Houston at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to discuss their case. They can help guide the affected party on the timeline and the legal process.
The Factors That May Affect the Duration of a Car Accident Settlement
There are several factors that can affect the duration of a car accident settlement, some of which include the following:
The Severity of the Injuries
One of the major factors that plays a crucial role in the amount of time it takes to settle a car accident claim is the severity of the victim's injuries. The more severe the injuries are, the longer it'll take to complete the medical treatment.
It's important to understand that the injured victim must wait until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before they settle the car accident case.
An MMI refers to the victim's state where the medical doctors have exhausted all treatment options. At this stage, the victim's condition cannot improve any further, and they may have to live with the pain or disabilities.
When an injured victim reaches MMI, they're better able to assess the total compensatory damages incurred following their car accident. Achieving maximum medical improvement can take some time, which can affect the duration it takes to negotiate a settlement offer.
The Complexity of the Case
Sometimes, a car accident can be an open-shut case where the plaintiff receives monetary damages after the crash. In such situations, it can take a few weeks to settle, given that the victim receives medical treatment and there are no issues over liability.
However, in cases involving multiple defendants, it can take much longer, as the injured party must investigate the liable parties before they can gather evidence to build a strong car accident case.
In some car accident cases, the defendants may refuse to accept liability. They may blame the victims for the incident, which would require the affected parties to conduct an investigation, prolonging the claims process.
The Value of a Car Accident Case
Car accident cases that have a greater value can take much longer to settle than those involving minor injuries. The insurance company will take its time to dig out dirt in a bid to reduce payouts, pushing the expected timeline of receiving a settlement forward.
When a car accident case heads to trial, the caseload in the relevant jurisdiction can have an impact on the duration it takes to receive a settlement.
Involvement of the Insurance Company
The involvement of an insurance company can have an adverse impact on the car accident settlement timeline. An insurer may wait for medical reports or create hurdles along the way, prolonging the claims process.
When a car insurance company receives a claim, it may assign the case to the claims adjuster, who is responsible for ensuring minimal payouts. This means that the adjuster may use all of the dirty tactics in their arsenal to reduce the victim's compensation or deny their car accident claim.
It's crucial to remain calm and persistent with the insurance company. An insurer may throw a low settlement offer in an attempt to resolve the claim quickly and save its investors some money.
An experienced car accident lawyer can handle the insurance company. They are well aware of the dirty tactics insurers use and can help the affected party avoid the hurdles and negotiate a fair settlement.
What Are the Factors That Can Reduce a Car Accident Settlement?
There are several factors that can reduce a car accident settlement amount, some of which include the following:
The Victim's Fault
When it comes to car accident cases, Texas follows the modified comparative negligence system. This means that the injured victims in the Lone Star state can recover compensation even if they're partially responsible for their injuries.
However, under the modified comparative negligence system, the degree of the victim's fault can have an adverse impact on the car accident settlement. Here is an example to help explain how this rule works in Texas:
Sarah is running late for work and steps on the gas pedal, exceeding the legal driving speed limit in Texas. While driving, she gets hit by John, who runs a red light.
The car accident resulted in $100,000 in damages, prompting Sarah to file a personal injury lawsuit against John's insurance company.
After assessing the facts and supporting evidence, the court awarded the $100,000 in damages but also stated that Sarah was 30% responsible for the accident due to her exceeding the legal speed limit.
In the example above, Sarah will receive $70,000 instead of $100,000, as she is partially responsible for the incident.
It's important to note that the modified comparative negligence rule bars injured victims from financial recovery if their degree of fault is greater than 50%.
If the at-fault party has a $200,000 coverage, the injured victim cannot recover more than that amount even if their damages are far greater.
An experienced Houston car accident lawyer can help assess the negligent driver's coverage and explore other avenues to help increase the amount of compensation the injured party receives.
Delayed Medical Attention
Delaying medical attention can hurt the injured victim's car accident settlement amount. An insurance company will use that against the affected party and blame the delay in treatment for the victim's injuries.
When an accident aggravates pre-existing conditions, it can make the car accident case more complicated. In such a situation, the insurance company may argue that its policyholder had nothing to do with the victim's injuries in an attempt to reduce the settlement amount.
A skilled car accident attorney can gather the necessary evidence to establish the relationship between the affected party's pre-existing conditions and the traumatic event.
When the injured victim does not have sufficient evidence to prove the value of their car accident case, the insurance company will use it to its advantage and offer a lower settlement amount.
It's crucial to let an experienced personal injury attorney handle the claim and the insurer to ensure maximum compensation.
What Are the Steps to Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement in Houston, Texas?
A car accident claim can take several months to resolve. In some cases, it may take a year or even more to process the payouts. Knowing the steps in the legal process can provide the injured victims with a timeline on when to expect the financial compensation.
There are several steps in a car accident claim, and these include the following:
Seek Medical Treatment
An accident can leave an individual with serious injuries, adversely impacting their life. It's essential that they seek medical treatment immediately to avoid any complications and reach the MMI stage quickly. This can expedite the legal process.
Another important thing to note is that delaying medical treatment can have a detrimental impact on one's personal injury claim or lawsuit. The insurance company can argue that the injuries are from the delay in treatment rather than the result of its policyholder's negligence.
When the injured party starts their medical treatment, they must maintain a physical file where they keep all of the medical records, bills, and other essential documents. This allows the affected party to calculate the out-of-pocket expenses incurred following the car accident while also maintaining pieces of evidence that they can submit when filing the claim.
Medical records can demonstrate to the insurance company or the judge/jury the severity of the injuries sustained and their impact on the victim's life.
It can also show the relationship between the traumatic car accident and the victim's injuries, which is essential in a negligence claim.
Reach out to a Car Accident Attorney
After seeking medical treatment, it's crucial for the injured victim to start the legal process immediately. Depending on the facts surrounding the case, the affected party may not have enough time to pursue civil action.
From filing a car accident claim to gathering evidence, negotiating a settlement, and pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, an experienced car accident lawyer can handle the entire legal process. This allows the injured victim to focus on their recovery while the attorney fights for their rights.
When the personal injury lawyer files a claim against the negligent party's insurance company, they'll work with medical experts and other experienced professionals to help build a strong case.
The attorney will handle the insurer and try to negotiate a settlement that is in the injured victim's best interests.
Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Sometimes, the insurance company may refuse to meet in the middle and agree on a fair settlement. When that happens, the car accident lawyer can file a lawsuit with the relevant court.
A trial is a great way to get financial compensation if the insurance company fails to settle. However, it can prolong the legal process, and there is a level of uncertainty, as the verdict can go both ways.
The Discovery Phase
The discovery phase in a car accident lawsuit is essential for all of the parties involved. It allows the plaintiff and defendant to investigate the facts surrounding the case and also provides them access to information that they may not have had during the claims process.
Each side can interrogate the other and exchange critical information that may help determine the outcome of the Texas car accident case.
During the discovery phase, the insurance company may want to negotiate a settlement if it feels that the plaintiff has a strong case.
Negotiations and Mediations
It's best for the injured victim to consult with their personal injury lawyer before filing a lawsuit. Going to trial can be expensive and lead to bad publicity for the insurance company, which is why sometimes pursuing a suit can force the insurer to return to the negotiation table.
Negotiations and mediations is an important part of the car accident settlement process. It can help resolve the case before the trial even begins.
How Long Do Injured Victims Have to Pursue a Car Accident Claim in Houston, Texas?
After a motor vehicle crash, the injured victim has a time frame in which they must pursue legal action, and this is commonly referred to as the statute of limitations. This can vary depending on the state and the facts surrounding the car accident case.
An injured victim has two years from the date of the motor vehicle crash, as mentioned in the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code section 16.003, to pursue a car accident case against the negligent party in Houston, Texas.
Failure to file a claim or pursue a lawsuit within the time mentioned in the state's statute of limitations can bar the affected party from making any financial recovery.
However, it's important to note that the time limit an injured victim may have in Houston, Texas, may vary. A car accident case against a government entity, for example, only has a six-month statute of limitations.
The injured victim needs to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to help determine the time they have left to pursue a car accident case. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer other questions such as How much is a typical car accident settlement in Texas?
Even if the affected party believes that the statute of limitations has expired, it's best to speak to a skilled lawyer, as certain situations can extend the time frame a plaintiff has to file a claim or lawsuit.
What Are the Important Deadlines the Injured Victims Should Keep in Mind?
Insurance companies have important deadlines that they must follow. This can prolong the car accident case and also lead to a lot of frustration.
The injured victim needs to contact a skilled personal injury lawyer to help deal with the insurer and expedite the process. They can give insight on things like how long you can sue after a car accident in Texas.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement from a Car Accident in Texas?
Car accident settlements can take a couple of months to resolve. Depending on the complexity of the case and other factors, it may take a year or more before the parties agree on a fair settlement.
Even after mutually agreeing on the settlement amount, there is still a lot of waiting before the injured victim receives compensation. It can take two to six weeks before the affected party receives their first car accident settlement check.
It's important to note that there could be one check or multiple checks depending on what the parties agree to during the negotiations phase. Oftentimes, an insurance company may suggest a structured settlement, where the insurer makes periodic payments.
However, the affected party can negotiate a lump-sum payment as well. It all depends on the victim's needs and circumstances.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help Estimate the Time a Car Accident Case Can Take
Those who have suffered injuries in a car accident in Houston, Texas, should call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. They can protect the victim's rights and help them understand their legal options.