How Long a Car Accident Case Takes & How to Manage Bills In the Meantime
Being injured in a car accident is terrible enough in and of itself, not to mention the massive expenses resulting from it. After a car accident, you may struggle to keep up with medical bills, car repair invoices, and lost wages. Additionally, you may wonder how long it will take to settle for your car accident and if you’ll be able to keep up with the costs associated with it. Fortunately, help is available for you to keep up with the costs of your accident, including medical liens and lawsuit funding loans.
How Long Does It Take to Settle Car Accident Cases?
Most car accident cases settle before they go to trial. However, each case is different and how long it takes to reach a settlement agreement depends on various factors, including the extent of your injuries, recovery time, the defendant’s insurance policy, and liability defenses. For most car accident settlements, you can expect a timeline somewhat similar to the following:
Receive Medical Treatment (1-12 months)
Seeking appropriate medical care for your injuries is critical for your well-being. Although it might be time-consuming, failing to do so might delay your personal injury claim and affect your settlement amount. Because some medical issues may not be noticeable until several weeks or months following your accident, it’s vital to know the full extent of your injuries before pursuing your case.
Have Your Case Evaluated by a Lawyer (2-6 months)
After you’ve recovered from your injuries, it’s time to have an attorney evaluate your case. In the initial stages, your attorney will collect all necessary evidence to support your damages. To do this, they will need to review things such as your medical records and bills, car repair estimates, property damage reports, wage loss verifications, and any other expenses resulting from your accident. This process tends to vary primarily based on your recovery length and the available evidence, but it can take anywhere from two to six months.
Write a Letter of Demand (4-6 weeks)
Once your attorney has evaluated your case and collected the necessary evidence, they will begin drafting a letter of demand to the insurance company to negotiate with them. From the time of draft to the time of response, the length of time is generally around 4-6 weeks.
File an Insurance Claim (2-4 weeks)
If the defendant’s insurance company does not submit a reasonable offer, your attorney will reject it and commence with filing suit. First, they will prepare a complaint for you to review and confirm before submitting it against the defendant. Then, the defense will have up to 20 days to respond.
Discovery (6-12 months)
The move to discovery is a term that refers to both the defendant and the plaintiff exchanging information, evaluating damages, and formulating a defense. This stage may take more or less time, depending on the jurisdiction and intricacy of your case. An experienced lawyer will guide you through this process, as it’s critical to have someone who can ensure your claim is represented in the best light possible.
Negotiations (2-4 weeks)
After discovery, your attorney will have a balanced picture of whether or not negotiation or proceeding to trial is in your best interest. Depending on how the discovery went, your attorney may decide whether or not alternative resolutions like arbitration or mediation are worth pursuing as well.
Trial (1-3 days)
If you cannot settle your case, you will proceed to the trial phase next.
Settlement can occur anytime during the legal process, and it’s not the only way to resolve a case. However, if you decide to settle, you will receive your settlement check within 30 days of signing a release agreement.
How to Pay for Bills While Your Case is Unresolved
As you can see, filing a suit can equate to a lengthy legal process, which may leave you concerned about how to pay for things like medical bills, repair costs, and lost work wages in the meantime. However, there are a few ways to receive help as you embark upon the legal process, including:
1. Medical Liens
While your insurance might pay for the vast majority of your medical expenses, you will likely encounter substantial out-of-pocket costs, such as copays for prescriptions and doctor visits. Medical liens are designed to help you continue with treatments and medical care without having to worry about paying anything upfront. When you take out a medical lien, your lawyer agrees to pay your doctor after your lawsuit settles or resolves in your favor.
2. Lawsuit Funding Loans
It’s possible that during your lawsuit, you’re struggling to meet more than just the costs of your medical bills, but that you’re also working to meet the costs of day-to-day living as well. Lawsuit funding loans are essentially an advanced payment of the eventual compensation you will likely win at trial. You can use this advance to pay for anything. However, it can also come with an exceptionally high-interest rate, so it’s essential to understand the full pros and cons of using a lawsuit funding loan before you agree to one.
Car accident cases are complex, and there is no set timeline for how long any given case will take. However, for victims experiencing expensive medical bills, lost wages, or extensive property damage bills, it may be necessary to resort to alternative methods to help sustain the costs of these damages while undergoing the legal process. Medical liens and lawsuit funding loans are two possible ways to fund the costs of bills during the trial, although a lawyer can best explain your available financial options.
If you have questions regarding the legal process, a free consultation with a skilled attorney is the best way to seek help for your personal injury case.