The short answer: it could be resolved in 90 days or it could take three years. The cases that take two or three years are the complicated cases. Straight forward cases should resolve in a matter of months, not years.
There are five major factors that will influence how long it will take for your accident case to resolve. But before we dive into the factors, you should realize that you are the controller of your injury claim – you can always settle your claim quickly, but that will often require accepting less compensation that you may deserve for your injuries.
Now let’s discuss the five factors that will influence how long it will take your accident case to resolve.
Who is at fault?
Is it absolutely, undeniably the other person’s fault? If so, then you are off to a good start of getting your case resolved sooner rather than later. But if there is any doubt that you may have had some fault in the accident, all bets are off because you are going to have to fight with the other driver’s insurance about (a) whether you were at fault at all, and (b) how much you were at fault versus how much their insured was at fault.
How bad are your injuries?
If you have some minor injuries that have resolved and you are no longer treating with a medical doctor, then you are on the track to a fast settlement. But if you have significant or permanent injuries, and are still treating with a medical doctor, then you are not going to want to settle your case quickly because you still do not know the total long term impact of the injuries. The last thing you want to do is settle a case and then find out you need to have surgery. Once you settle, that is it – it is over.
What is your settlement demand?
The more significant the settlement demand, the more likely the insurance company is going to make you work for the money. Technically they are not supposed to operate this way, but the reality is they do. There are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking I have seen this to be true.
How much insurance coverage is available?
If there is a significant amount of insurance, more than enough to satisfy your claim, then there is less desire for the insurance company to resolve your case immediately. But if there is a low amount of insurance and a significant injury, the insurance company may not even wait for you to demand the insurance limits, they may just offer to pay them to you.
Are you filing a lawsuit or trying to negotiate a settlement without a lawsuit?
There is always less pressure on the insurance company to settle a lawsuit when they are not faced with a lawsuit. That is just a fact. They often will deny liability, and delay fair payment. They will undoubtedly will make some low-ball offers to you, but they will rarely offer an amount that is satisfactory prior to a lawsuit being filed. Therefore, unless you have a large injury and you know there are low insurance limits, I always suggest clients file the lawsuit immediately to put some additional pressure on the insurance company and make them start spending money by hiring a lawyer.