- If you paid a deductible and the other driver was later found to be at fault, it may take several months for the insurance companies to reimburse you.
- Once an injury settlement is reached, you may expect to receive a check approximately one month after an agreement to settle for a certain dollar amount or other conditions. Of course, this will depend on the unique circumstances of your case.
- Insurance companies may use tactics to delay or to attempt to diminish the value of your personal injury claim.
- In a bodily injury case, the threat of a lawsuit is often the only thing that forces an insurance adjuster to make a fair settlement offer in a timely manner.
Even if liability (fault) has been accepted, it may take several weeks, several months, or up to several years before you actually receive the settlement check. Here are some of the common situations where you may expect to receive a settlement check and how long it can take.
INSURANCE CHECKS FOR VEHICLE DAMAGE ONLY
If the damage to your vehicle is repairable, your own and the at-fault party’s insurance adjusters may inspect the vehicle in the days after the collision. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company accepts fault, it is likely that the insurer will pay the repair shop directly and you may never receive a check. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, or if there is a dispute about who was at fault, you may choose to put the claim through your own insurance company. If so, you may have to pay a deductible, which may be reimbursed later. Reimbursement of a deductible may take several months while the insurance companies arbitrate to determine fault.
If your vehicle is deemed a total loss and you hold the title of the vehicle free and clear, there is no lien holder for a balance on the vehicle then the at-fault party’s insurance company, or your insurance company, will issue you a check for the fair market value of the vehicle.
If there is a lien or a loan, the insurance company may send part or all of the money to the lender and send you the balance. Payment of a total loss can take several days to several weeks.
SETTLEMENT CHECKS FOR INJURIES
If you are injured in the motor vehicle accident and your vehicle is damaged, you technically have two separate compensable claims: (1) your injury claim, also known as a bodily injury or personal injury claim; and (2) the damage to and/or total loss of your vehicle.
Generally, the either at-fault party’s insurance company or your own insurer will pay you for the property damage claim first. The insurance companies do not usually need to resolve your injury case in order to pay for the vehicle damage.
Your injury claim can take longer to resolve. Assuming there is no fight about who was at fault, how long it takes usually depends upon the extent of your injuries and how long it takes for you to either fully recover or for the full extent (in the case of permanent injury) of your injury and limitations to be known. If your injuries are very severe, it may be advisable to get an AMA permanent partial disability or impairment rating (PPD), so that the full value of your injury can be proven. Once your medical picture is complete, the normal process is to present the medical records, billing and other economic damages to the insurance company and attempt to negotiate a settlement.
Obviously, if you treat for only a few weeks and have a complete, or nearly complete recovery, negotiations can begin sooner with the insurance company. If you have a serious condition requiring months or years of medical care, it may not be possible to begin settlement negotiations until much later.
Once an injury settlement is reached, you can usually expect to receive a check within a month or two after an agreement to settle for a certain dollar amount and/or other conditions is made. Of course, there can be exceptions to how long this takes. For example, if the settlement is for a child or an incapacitated adult, a State or Probate Court may have to approve the settlement, in what is called a petition to compromise a doubtful claim of a minor or adult ward. This probate court process can add weeks or months to the process.
To learn even more about settlement and check deadlines visit the link to this page.
DELAY TACTICS INSURANCE COMPANIES SOMETIMES USE
Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes use tactics to delay or to attempt to diminish the value of your personal injury claim. Some of those tactics may include unfairly disputing who caused the accident; arguing that you are partly to blame; disputing the severity of the accident by claiming it was only a small or minor crash; arguing that you are exaggerating your injuries; or claiming that your condition was pre-existing.
If you fall victim to one of these unfair or unreasonable tactics, it can delay the amount of time it takes to reach settlement and can even make a lawsuit necessary. If and when these tactics are used, your attorney should discuss your options with you and how this will affect the amount of time it will take to get the case settled.
HOW DOES REPRESENTING YOURSELF CHANGE SETTLEMENT TIMELINES?
If you are negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company without an attorney, the adjuster is likely to take you less seriously. This is not to say that you should be taken less seriously. You may be a brilliant negotiator! But, it is likely that the adjuster will offer less money on your case or will delay payment, simply because the adjuster will assume that you lack the ability and legal knowledge to file a lawsuit and win against the insurance company’s lawyers.
Often, the threat of a lawsuit is the only thing that forces an insurance adjuster to make a fair settlement offer in a timely manner. Although you certainly do not have to hire a lawyer to handle you injury claim, bringing the insurance company to the negotiation table faster and getting higher dollars placed on the settlement offer are some of the biggest benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer.