The length of time it takes to get a settlement varies from case to case. Many settlements will be resolved within a few months. Occasionally, they may take a year or longer. If your settlement drags on, a good car accident lawyer can help you defer medical bills until the case is resolved and you have the financial recovery to pay them. It’s never in your interest to accept a smaller settlement than you deserve simply to speed up the process.
Below, we’ll cover the most common timelines for car accident settlements in Georgia. Most are resolved without going to court, and thus move slightly faster.
Beware the “Quickie” Insurance Offer
When you first file a car accident claim, the insurance company may use one of two tactics. They may move slowly or may offer you money right away. The quick offer of money seems promising—but it is dangerous. Here’s why:
- The insurance company knows you may not have had time to talk with a lawyer. Never sign away your rights before you’ve received appropriate legal counsel.
- In the first weeks after your accident, you do not know the extent of your injuries. Even if you’ve already received treatment, doctors can be wrong about how long it will take to heal or whether the initial treatment will work. That means the amount of care you need—and the bills you will face—could be much greater than you think.
In other words, if you accept the money now, you may end up regretting it later. Talk to a lawyer and get their opinion on the insurance company’s first offer.
Settling a Car Accident Claim in 2-6 Months
In other cases, the insurance company may delay your claim or say they need time. This can be legitimate if they are investigating the details of the claim, but it could also be a tactic. This is when a lawyer is particularly helpful.
In many car accident cases, a good lawyer can get you a final, acceptable settlement offer within 2 to 6 months. This is about how long it takes for your lawyer to present a hard case to the insurers, deal with any negotiations, and force them to the table even if they are stalling. If the insurer is willing to bargain right away it will be closer to a month or two. If the insurance company contests the evidence in the case, or is trying to blame you, it could be closer to six months.
This kind of timeline usually doesn’t involve going to court. Even if your lawyer files suit, the case will normally be resolved through simple negotiation, not a trial.
Why Some Car Accident Settlements May Take a Year
Rarely, insurers refuse to negotiate or simply won’t come up to an acceptable number that truly covers your losses. In this case your lawyer will likely recommend filing a lawsuit. Although the lawyer can handle all of the legal work for you, the court process takes time. Even the first hearing is often scheduled 6 weeks out (or more), and there may be multiple hearings before the trial date. During this time, your lawyer will continue to pressure the insurer to settle without going to trial.
This process is likely to go longer than the 6-month mark. In some cases it may take up to a year. This is uncommon, but it does happen, particularly in complex cases involving serious injuries, wrongful death, or million-dollar financial recoveries. In Georgia, it’s even rarer for a case to take longer than a year, although in some cases it may happen.
What do I do if I need the money right away?
Your lawyer can help you. Normally, you will be facing large medical bills—and may be without income because of the injury. Your lawyer can help you defer those costs, meaning you don’t have to pay out of pocket until you receive your settlement. This gives you breathing room so that you aren’t under pressure to accept less than you deserve. If deferring the costs adds any interest to them, it will be a low amount and the settlement will normally pay far more than you lose in interest.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Don’t get stuck feeling unsure about your car accident claim. Let us give you a FREE consultation to get you the answers you need—and help you get paid. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.