The time it takes to settle a Los Angeles personal injury claim can be unpredictable. Some cases are straightforward and can settle in mere months. Other cases can be complex and could take 2 to 3 years to resolve.
The consequences of a car accident can be overwhelming, ranging from lost wages to soaring medical bills. You’re forced to try to deal with these costs all while recovering from your injuries. If you can’t make ends meet and need money quickly, that could play a role in how your case will settle. Be careful to not settle too fast. You could risk taking a lowball offer and not getting every dollar you deserve.
Accepting the Insurance Company’s Initial Offer
When the other party is at fault, you may get a settlement offer from their insurance company rather quickly. This offer can come with a short window of time in which you have to accept.
If you accept this initial offer, you will have to sign a waiver. This is known as an accident release form, and it will bar you from seeking further compensation. At that time, you may not have a full understanding of what your case is really worth. It’ll take time to know what your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages cost you. It is wise to consult with an attorney experienced in personal injury for help valuing your case.
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident. During this investigation, they’ll seek expert opinions concerning the extent of your injuries. An experienced attorney will know what a reasonable settlement would look like and can fight to make sure you get the money you deserve.
What Happens If I Decline the First Offer?
One thing is certain if you decline the insurance company’s first offer. You will have to wait longer to settle. In California, you are entitled to recover money damages for your medical bills and expenses related to your injuries.
It makes sense to wait until you are fully recovered from your injuries. This way, you have a better understanding of your medical costs and the possible long-term effects of your injuries. You are allowed to make a reasonable calculation of future medical expenses. However, this can be difficult if done too soon after your accident.
In California, accident victims are entitled to two categories of damages: economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages are the financial costs that a victim incurs from the accident and the injury.
- Non-economic damages are for the things that are more difficult to calculate, such as the cost of the physical pain, mental suffering, and emotional distress.
This is where disagreements frequently occur. Disputes over damages can lengthen the time it takes to settle your case.
Settlement Conferences Can Speed Up Negotiations
There are steps early on in a personal injury lawsuit that are used to help parties reach a settlement. The court will require both parties to attend mandatory settlement conferences. Before the conference, you’ll have to share certain information with the court and the other side:
- Your position
- The facts as you see them
- Your damages, and
- A good faith settlement offer.
If a settlement cannot be reached you will go to trial. At any time during the litigation up until trial you can accept a settlement offer and the case will be closed.