How Long Does it Take to get Compensated After a Car Accident

Key Points:

  • Car accident settlement timelines all vary due to the variety of factors that influence the time it takes to settle a car accident case.
  • One timeline doesn’t fit all car accident cases.
  • The Georgia statute of limitations for personal injuries from car, truck, and motorcycle accidents is two years.
  • The length of medical care, how much insurance is available, and who was at-fault in the auto accident can all impact how long settlement and compensation will take.
  • Most insurance adjusters will not make a fair settlement offer until they are convinced you can beat them in court.
  • Reimbursement usually occurs within 30 days or less after a formal settlement agreement or verdict.
  • Our car accident lawyer can give you an estimate on how long your case might take to settle if you call us for a free case evaluation.

Questions Answered:

Not only are car accidents traumatic, but they also create a financial burden for victims. So, it’s natural to wonder how long it will take for you to receive money, known as compensation, from the insurance company or responsible parties.

Many things can impact how long it takes to get compensation or settle a Georgia car accident case. Most personal injury cases, but not all, settle without a lawsuit or legal action being filed. Cases that settle without a lawsuit usually settle more quickly. Cases that require a lawsuit may still settle before reaching trial, but they generally take longer for many reasons including when multiple cars are involved.

Knowing how long it takes to receive the compensation for medical bills and lost wages you deserve may ease the burden during this hectic and inconvenient time while you deal with insurance adjusters and companies, medical doctors and care providers, and therapists.

How soon will I get my settlement? 

The timeframe for compensation is different for each case. Certain factors, such as the severity of your injuries and the extent of treatment, may prolong your case. However, once your case settles, it typically takes several weeks for the check to be mailed to your attorney.  

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What factors tend to increase the amount of time a car accident case takes to settle?

Even an otherwise minor fender bender can result in serious injuries, with symptoms that take days or even weeks to appear

The duration of medical care and the last date of treatment. Waiting until you have finished your medical care and treatment can help ensure you receive the full value for your case. We understand that waiting can be hard, especially while you have medical bills from an injury and may be out of work. However, the insurance company is unlikely to pay a full, or even reasonable, settlement until the extent of your injuries, physical condition and all medical costs are known. If the insurance company makes a quick settlement offer while you are still recovering, watch out.  You may be leaving settlement money on the table. Your case may be worth much more.

Settling Your Car Accident Case in Georgia. A Georgia car, truck or motorcycle accident case can take anywhere from several months to a few years to settle for its full and fair value. The details of your case matter. You must take into account: What the full and fair value of your injuries truly is, how long it has or will take you to recover, how much insurance there is (policy limits), and whether the accident is entirely the fault of the other driver, or partly your fault.

Other factors that go into Car Accident Settlements in Georgia: How quickly you received medical treatment or attention, whether you received emergency medical care, and whether you recovered completely. Faster medical care often leads to faster settlements, but other things matter as well.

The amount of available insurance coverage. When there is significant insurance coverage available in a case, it can sometimes take longer to settle. There is less pressure on the insurance company when the amount of available coverage is larger than the cost of your medical bills and other damages. For example, say you have a severe injury with $80,000 in medical bills, and the insurance policy limit is $100,000. Insurance companies know that serious injury cases with $80,000 in bills are likely to end up in a jury verdict higher than the policy limit. If so, the insurance company might have to pay above the policy limits unless it had already (quickly) offered to pay out the entire policy.

Compare this to a case involving a minor injury with $10,000 in medical bills and a $100,000 insurance policy. The insurance company knows that it is unlikely your jury verdict will exceed the policy limit. So, there is very little pressure on the insurance carrier and adjuster to settle quickly.

If who’s at fault is clear. If the negligent driver admitted to fault or the police issued a traffic ticket, which the driver paid, a case could move quicker. However, the insurance company is likely to resist paying your claim if you are partially or fully to blame. Additional investigation, witness statements, 911 audio recordings and surveillance videos from nearby businesses may all help prove who was at fault. The more proof presented, the longer the case may take to settle, and the more likely it may end up requiring a lawsuit. That is, if your attorney determines the case can be won at trial.

The insurance company or defense attorney. Some insurance companies have a reputation for fighting every case or making settlement offers far below the normal range for the type of accident, injury, or amount of medical bills. It may take a lot of negotiating to get the case to its full settlement potential. Often, when the insurance company is stubborn, a lawsuit must be filed.

Payment for the defense lawyer. Private law firms and defense attorneys are paid by the hour. It can get quite expensive to defend a personal injury case.  However, insurance companies with in-house attorneys can drag out the amount of time it takes to settle. If the insurance company doesn’t have to hire more expensive outside lawyers, they may unnecessarily drag out the case.

A case against the local, state or federal government. If the at-fault driver was at work for a government agency when the crash occurred, certain notices must be filed and time periods must elapse before the government agency is required to pay your claim. There are likely to be strict notice and reporting requirements that must be filed, or your claim could be denied or dismissed. Do not expect a case against a government agency to settle quickly.

When Medicaid or Medicare is involved. If some or all of your bills were paid by Medicaid or Medicare, you will likely have to reimburse some or all of those payments. This means that a portion of your settlement may need to be set aside to pay the lien. Most medical liens are negotiable, but it will increase the time it takes to receive all of the money from your settlement.

What is the Statue of Limitations for Georgia Personal Injury Claims for car and truck accidents?

The State of Georgia has a two year statute of limitations to file a claim for personal injuries from car, motorcycle and truck accident cases. However, you probably do not want to wait too long to make or file a claim. The more time that passes, the harder it may be to convince an insurance adjuster or a Jury of your injuries.

What things may make the insurance adjuster settle my car accident case faster?

After the accident, you will need: the police report, photographs of the damage to the vehicles, pictures of your injuries, and any necessary witness statements or other evidence

Quickly presenting evidence that proves you will win on liability (fault). After an accident, you will need the police report, photographs of the damage to the vehicles, pictures of your injuries, any necessary witness statements or other evidence. The at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster will review this evidence and decide whether the case could be won. If they expect to lose in court, the insurance company will be less likely to discount the amount being offered. The sooner evidence is presented, the faster the insurance company can decide not to fight your case on liability (fault).

The insurance company and adjuster have all of your medical records, bills and lost wage documentation. Most insurance adjusters will not make a settlement offer until they have all medical bills, records and proof of any lost pay. Insurance adjusters use these records to set the amount or limit they are willing to offer. They must then get approval from their superiors at the insurance company to settle the claim.  Larger claims or cases usually require more and better documentation.

Giving the insurance company enough information to set a reserve. A case reserve is the amount of money an insurance company must set aside to pay your claim. If the adjuster sets the reserve too low, it can take time and effort to get the case re-reserved to a level that the insurance company can pay. This is a good reason to let the adjuster know as soon as possible how severe your injuries are.  On the other hand, reserves may be limited by the amount of the insurance policy.

You are dealing with a “good” insurance company. A high-quality insurance company is more likely to make a reasonable settlement offer and not drag out the process. However, this will still only occur after the full amount of your medical bills and physical recovery are known. Many low-budget insurance companies that insure high-risk drivers have a reputation for making settlement offers much lower than fair value. This can cause the case to take longer.

Your case has large damages and a low insurance limit. Some cases settle quickly because the value of the case is much greater than the available insurance. In these situations, the insurance company may offer to pay its policy limit even while you are still receiving medical treatment. Sometimes the case settles quickly in response to a time-limited demand. But this is generally only effective when the damages are clearly greater than the amount of the insurance coverage. When a properly drafted time-limited demand (often called “Holt Demands”) is sent, and the insurance company is notified that the case is likely to be larger than policy limits, there is pressure on the insurance company to settle.

How long does it take to receive money after a car accident settlement?

If you and the other party agree to settle your case in or out of court, the settlement agreement will contain the terms and conditions of payment.
The payment terms will determine how and when the at-fault party must compensate you. Typically, payment will be made in one of two ways:
1. Lump-sum payments are usually paid within 30 days of the date the settlement is agreed upon.
2. Periodic payments require the responsible party to make monthly or semi-monthly payments over a specific period until the agreed-upon settlement amount is paid in full.

Settlements requiring court approval, in Georgia, may take two to four months. Most cases involving minor children or incapacitated adults require probate or state court approval.

When the court announces a verdict and judgement in your favor, the defense typically has 30 days to file an appeal

Be careful when agreeing to a settlement. When you settle, you typically waive your right to pursue additional compensation from the other party again. Therefore, the amount you agree to should consider not only the expenses and losses you have already suffered but also expenses you are likely to suffer in the future.

These potential costs can include ongoing medical needs, rehabilitation costs, decreased future earnings and other financial hardships that may occur due to your accident or injuries.

How long does it take to receive compensation after I win in court?

If your case goes to trial before a judge or jury, you might have waited weeks, months or, in some extreme cases, several years.
When the court announces a verdict and judgment in your favor, the defense typically has 30 days to file an appeal. If they appeal, it is unlikely that you will receive any payment until the appeal is over. Fortunately, most cases are not appealed.
After a verdict and judgment, most insurance companies pay within a matter of a few weeks to a month.

What happens if an insurance company fails to pay an accident settlement?

If the insurance company or defendant fails to pay, you may take additional legal action to collect against the parties you sued. However, insurance companies rarely let this happen, and almost always pay the judgment fairly quickly.

What Recommendations Would We Give to Expedite a Car Accident Settlement?

  • Making sure your car accident lawyer knows you want a quicker settlement. Not all, but some big law firms are just slower with cases. This can slow down the settlement process. Informing them early on about achieving a faster settlement can be very influential on getting a faster car accident settlement.
  • Responding to your lawyer as soon as possible can help speed up the process. If a car accident victim is taking days to respond it will slow down the process.
  • Hiring a law firm that focuses on faster settlements can make a big difference. The legal team is likely to be trained on how to move quickly through the process, and how to get an insurance company to agree with them sooner, rather than later.

When should you accept a quick settlement offer from an insurance company?

A claims adjuster is tasked with one main objective: settling your claim for as little money as possible

It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to contact you within a few days of an accident. They may offer to send you a check to “pay your medical bills” and settle your case.

Unless your injury and damages were minor, you’ll want to be careful and consider turning down the offer. This is because once you accept the settlement, you may not be able to receive more money in the future. If you need additional medical care, the at-fault driver and the insurance company will no longer be required to pay.  Additionally, early on, you may not fully understand whether you will completely recover from the injury. This could mean leaving a lot of money on the table.

You can always accept the offer later. It is highly unlikely that the offer will be permanently withdrawn. In fact, it may be increased.

If you want to take a chance and settle your case quickly, demand that the insurance company provide a check within a set time. Also, explain you will be hiring a lawyer if they do not pay you. Generally speaking, our advice is not to settle your case without consulting with an attorney. Insurance institute studies have shown that people who hire a personal injury lawyer receive, on average, three-and-a-half times more money—even after the law firm has been paid.

Settlement Negotiations with an Insurance Adjuster or Company

After your medical bills and records are gathered (usually after your medical care is complete or you will not get any better), settlement negotiations can usually begin. The process of gathering all bills and records can take anywhere from 45 to 60 days, or slightly longer depending on how fast your doctors respond.

When the bills and records arrive, a demand package is usually prepared, that includes your evidence, records, bills, and a demand for payment. A detailed demand can help get the case settled. Settlement negotiations can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. If discussions break down, the adjuster drags the process out, or the insurance company presents a lowball offer, a lawsuit can be filed.

If a lawsuit is filed, how long will it take?

There is no pre-set amount of time for a case to come to Court after suit is filed. It may depend on how complicated your case is, how complicated your medical care is, and how many cases are ahead of you with the Judge or Court. Most Georgia car and truck accident lawsuits take 1-3 years to come to trial after being filed.

After the case is filed, there is a discovery period during which the sides will learn about each other through lists of questions and requests for documents. Many cases settle during or after discovery after the attorneys learn more about their opponent’s case and defenses. If the case goes to trial, a typical car accident case takes two days to a week on average.

What if a Georgia car accident was not reported?

Although Georgia law requires persons involved in a car accident to immediately report a car accident, not all accidents are reported, and many can still be settled. That said, if you do not have an accident report, it can be considerably more difficult to settle your injury case. Be certain that you obtain the name, license and insurance from any other drivers involved in your accident.

How much is the Average Settlement in Georgia for a Car Accident?

Because we specialize in car, truck and motorcycle accident cases, we are often asked “how much is my Georgia car accident case worth?” When evaluating settlement, you and your lawyer should consider how much damage was done to the cars or trucks involved, the amount of medical bills, and whether you will have permanent injuries or a permanent loss of income.

We also know this is not a “real” answer, but the actual answer is that every case is different. How much and how quickly your car accident case settles for is different in every case, and depends on the other matters discussed in this legal guide. The best way to discover what your case is worth is to speak to an attorney, not the insurance adjuster.

What if I settle or win my case, and I am not paid?

A settlement agreement, properly drafted, is a binding contract. If you won a verdict or judgment in court or entered into a settlement agreement and the other party fails to pay you, you may be able to enforce your judgment with a collection action or your settlement with a breach of contract action.

If you win, you may be entitled to not only the compensation initially awarded but also:

  • Interest
  • Court costs
  • Attorney’s fees, if you hire one to collect the judgment or file the collection lawsuit

Note: Car Accident Lawyer Fees Are Not Paid Until You Have a Settlement Check in Your Hand

Contingency Fees: Money should not be a barrier to you exercising your legal rights. Most personal injury lawyers handle car accident cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not have to pay your attorney unless compensation is recovered on your behalf.

This doesn’t mean “before you receive the settlement”. This means when you receive the settlement.

If you don’t ever receive a settlement. You don’t owe anything.

Why Contacting A Personal Injury Lawyer May Help Settle Your Case Faster

What Are Some of the Common Expenses You May Recover?

We are often asked what expenses and damages can be recovered and whether it is worth the time and effort. The financial recovery you may expect to receive includes the cost of medical care, lost past and future income, and also depends on the circumstances of your injury. How severely injured you are and whether you will have permanent limitations or restrictions on your activities of daily living has a huge affect on the amount you may claim and expect to recover.

Damages you may expect to receive after a Georgia car accident include medical costs, (ambulance, emergency room visit and tests, surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation), pain and suffering including physical and mental trauma and PTSD, and lost wages – both past and future. Lost income and wages can be very important if your case includes short or long term unemployment.

Article Summary

The amount of time it will take before you are compensated for your injuries depends upon many important factors and is not given a guarenteed timeline based off of historical car accident settlements.. Who was at fault, how much money is available through the insurance policy, the extent of the damages, the insurance company defending the at-fault driver, and whether the case can be settled out of court can all impact the timeline.

Before moving toward settlement and compensation, it’s critical that you understand your injuries fully, so you are aware of your costs for full treatment, as well as how those injuries will change your life in the future.

- D. Lo
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