How long it takes to receive compensation or payment from an insurance company after a car accident usually depends on the type of payment and how serious the injuries are. This article explains the time frames involved in receiving payments after a collision.
- Insurance payments from a car accident usually happens in stages.
- The first step toward receiving payment is to notify all insurance companies for all drivers involved in the collision.
- Cars are usually examined by a property damage insurance adjuster within days, and vehicle damage claims are usually settled and paid within days or weeks.
- Personal injury claims are usually settled within a few weeks or months after you complete medical care and the full extent of your injuries and recovery are known.
- Settlement checks for car accident personal injury claims are usually received between a few days and a month after an agreement is negotiated.
A common question we are asked is how long does or should it take to get payment or a check from an insurance company after a car accident in the State of Georgia? The answer to this depends on what happened in the collision and the type of damages or compensation you are asking for.
First things first: What are the steps involved in getting a check from an insurance company?
Get Medical Attention and Report the Accident: Whether you hit someone else or your car was hit by another driver, the first thing you should do (after making sure you are OK or getting medical care) is to report the accident to your own automobile insurance company and the insurance company of the driver or drivers who hit you or involved in the wreck.
Failure to Report a Collision Can Result in Loss of Payment: If you fail to report an accident to your own car insurance, you could be in violation of the terms of your policy and you could lose coverage. When you report the claim to your own insurance company, this does not automatically mean that your insurance rates will increase. In fact, in Georgia it is illegal for a motor vehicle insurer to raise your rates for a crash that was not your fault.
The Insurance Claims File: After you report the accident to the insurance companies, claims files will be opened and the insurance companies will begin to process and investigate the claims.
Notify the Insurance Company That You Are Hurt: If you are injured, you should report to the insurance companies that you were hurt, and how badly – but as car accident attorneys, we recommend that you let your attorney do this bodily injury reporting for you, because we believe it is usually a bad idea to speak directly to the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster unless you are represented by an attorney. Additionally, we generally recommend that you do not settle an injury claim without knowing the full extent of your injuries, the full extent of your recovery and without knowing what injury claims similar to yours are valued at.
If you were hurt in the accident, how long does it normally take to receive injury compensation?
When you are injured in a collision the answer to this question often depends on a few main things: First, is there a dispute about who was at fault? Secondly, how badly hurt are you?
When The Other Driver Admits Fault: In many cases, it is clear who was at fault – often one driver admits that he or she caused the accident. If there is no dispute, many injury claims are settled or paid by the insurance company after your medical care is complete or the full extent of your injuries are known, past medical bills are complete or it is reasonably clear how much future medical care and billing you are likely to receive. In clear-cut cases (known as clear liability) settlements are normally worked out in two to three months after you are released from medical care.
When The Other Driver Blames You: If there is a dispute about who was at fault, an injury case may take much longer or settle for a lower value. If you or your lawyer and the at-fault insurance company cannot agree on who was at fault, it may be possible to settle the case, but you may have to take a discount from what the ideal settlement would be. On the other hand, if no agreement about fault is reached – this usually means you are being blamed for being partly or entirely at fault – a lawsuit may be needed before you are able to recover compensation for your injury.
How Serious Are Your Injuries? In minor injury cases, settlement can often be negotiated within a few weeks of completing treatment with a primary care doctor or chiropractor. In serious or catastrophic injury cases, the full extent of your recovery and future expected medical needs may not be known for many months, or even a few years. As injury attorneys, we do nor recommend trying to settle a serious case until all of the future disabilities and medical expenses are known, unless there is a small or limited amount of insurance available to recover.
Settlement During Litigation: Some cases settle shortly after the lawsuit is filed, because the insurance company has a change-of-heart or wanted to test whether you were actually willing to file the case. Many more lawsuits settle after 6 to 12 months of litigation. If the case does not settle, in Georgia, most car accident lawsuits take between one and two years to reach trial after suit is filed.
How long does it take to get an insurance payment to cover vehicle (property) damage?
After the accident it is common for each of the auto insurance companies to send out property damage (vehicle) adjusters to look at or appraise the damage to your car. If there is no dispute as to who was at fault, the adjuster for the at-fault driver (even if it is you) may direct you to take the car to a repair shop. This inspection should take place within days of the collision. If it does not, you should be on the phone with the adjuster or a supervisor, pushing for action. If the car is repaired in a shop, the insurance company will usually send payment directly to the repair facility.
If you do not want your car repaired at a body shop or garage, you do have the option of requesting payment be sent to you. Most often a check will be sent within a few days after the inspection. Keep in mind, however, that if you have damage to a safety-feature on your car such as a headlight, tail light, turn signal, or a windshield, in Georgia you could receive a ticket for defective equipment. It is never a good idea to drive around in a vehicle that has serious internal or external damage.
If there is a dispute about who is at-fault in causing the collision, expect it to take much longer before the “other” driver’s insurance company agrees to pay. When this happens, most likely you will need to run the claim through your own insurance company, pay a deductible, and wait for your deductible to be reimbursed at some point in the future. This could take days, weeks, or months while the insurance companies determine who is going to be responsible in the end.
After any accident with damage, adjusters or appraisers for all involved vehicles will normally examine the vehicle. If they determine that the vehicle is totaled, usually this means when the cost to repair is greater than the market value, you should expect an offer from the auto insurance company within a few days. In Georgia, once you accept a payment offer for a totaled vehicle, you should expect to receive a check within a few days. Keep in mind that if the at-fault driver’s insurance company has been paying for a rental car, they will no longer be required to pay for your rental after a settlement offer has been accepted, therefore, you will need to begin shopping for a new or used car immediately.
In our experience, the usual time it takes to receive payment for a total loss is in the range of two or three days up to two weeks.
While most property damage claims are resolved within days or a week or two after a wreck, and most injury claims settled within weeks or a few months after you finish treatment, if there is a dispute, the process can take longer. The at-fault driver or her insurance company may delay payment while they investigate or fight liability (fault).
When it comes to recovering money for property damage, many people cannot afford to be without transportation for an extended time while the battle over fault continues. In such cases, if you have collision coverage on your own insurance policy, you may make the claim against your policy and pay a deductible — usually $500.00 or $1,000.00. You may receive your deductible back at a later date if your own insurer recovers money from the other driver or drivers.
Common disputes in injury cases that delay payment include who caused the accident and whether your injuries were pre-existing. You can sometimes speed up the process by providing as much information to the insurance company about fault and your current injuries early in the process. Be aware, however, that insurance companies may go on a fishing expedition into your medical history, looking for other things to blame your injuries on.
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Looking for More Information On How Vehicle Damage is Valued and Paid by Insurance?
Check our detailed guide on How Vehicle Damage Is Paid After a Georgia Car Accident with Injuries.