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How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?

the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC Oct. 3, 2023

A car accident can happen in the blink of an eye, especially in Georgia. You’d expect the most populated states—such as California, Florida, and Texas—to top the list of the most car accidents on a yearly basis, but in 2022, none of those was in the top ten. Georgia came in fifth. 

Whether you’re on your way to work, out to lunch with friends, or anything else, an automobile wreck can impact your life in disastrous ways. A minor fender bender is one thing, but when the driver and/or passengers are injured in an accident, the stakes increase. If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, it’s natural to be unsure of your next steps. 

This is when it’s vital to contact legal counsel. Reach out to The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC to set up a consultation. Walter Gabriel is a car accident attorney who will help you pursue compensation for personal injuries and property damage. It’s understandable that you wish to get everything over as quickly as possible, but this process takes time, especially when injuries are involved. A skilled attorney can help you understand your situation and strategize a path forward. 

The firm is proud to serve individuals in the Atlanta area, and throughout the surrounding communities including Dunwoody and Alexandria. 

Filing a Personal Injury Claim from an Auto Accident 

If you’ve been injured and/or your vehicle damaged in an accident caused by another driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages, which include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other ramifications of your injuries. To understand how long it might take to settle your car accident claim, it’s important to first understand the time limits that you have for pursuing a lawsuit in the first place. 

For legal action, Georgia imposes a time cap, or ‘statute of limitations,’ on pursuing claims resulting from car accidents. For a personal injury lawsuit, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. For property damage, the time limit is one year. Insurance companies, however, include prompt-reporting clauses in their policies. If you don’t file a claim within days or maybe a few weeks, you can violate that provision and the insurer can question the legitimacy of your claim. 

When all is said and done, most auto accident claims will be made to the auto insurance companies involved as the first step in the process. If you report your accident and injuries to your own auto insurer, that company will likely pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer. If you instead file against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, then your company may or may not become involved. A third option is to directly file a personal injury and/or property damage lawsuit against the at-fault driver. 

The Claims Process with an Insurer: How Long Does It Actually Take?

How long does it take for an insurance company to offer a settlement? That’s a double-edged sword. It may take them little time at all to low-ball what’s owed you, hoping you will agree to the terms. If you engage with an attorney and push the negotiations forward, however, then the process is going to take longer—but the results will very likely be much higher in terms of the compensation you receive. 

Insurance companies are for-profit institutions and are looking for every avenue and justification for limiting their payout for your injuries. Toward this end, they employ claims adjusters who are professionally trained to get you to admit some or all of the fault. For this reason, you should not negotiate with them yourself, but rely on an experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with their tactics. 

Comparative Negligence in Georgia

Many states, including Georgia, recognize the legal principle of modified comparative negligence. This means that, when it comes to accidents, each party is assigned a percentage of the fault in an accident. For instance, if you are rear-ended and suffer head, neck and spine injuries, the claims adjuster—or the jury in a personal injury lawsuit—will look at what happened to assign fault percentages. If your taillights failed to function and you were rear-ended, you might be assigned 30 percent (or more or less) of the fault. 

Say you are assigned 30 percent of the fault, and your claim is for $30,000 in medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.  Your $30,000 claim will be reduced by 30 percent, or by $9,000, and you will end up with $21,000. Keep in mind that if your percentage comes in at 50 percent or more you cannot recover anything. 

Reasons To Be Patient & Rely on an Attorney

Other than the insurance company’s desire to get everything over with quickly—and at the lowest price possible—you have compelling reasons, if injured, to extend the process. Your injuries may endure longer than anticipated, or may reappear at a date after you feel you’ve recovered. If you accept a settlement too early, you’ll be out of luck for reappearing symptoms or prolonged symptoms. A settlement is final. Once you agree to it, you cannot go back and ask for more. 

This is why it’s important to let an experienced car accident lawyer handle all insurer questions and demands for evidence and to negotiate directly with the claims adjuster. Relying on an attorney to handle your claim can result in a settlement two or three times greater than what you could obtain on your own. 

Additionally, your attorney can factor in future medical and other expenses and losses related to your injuries, so that the settlement will be forward-looking rather than just an end-all. Your attorney will know how to help you move forward. 

Don’t Pursue Your Claim Alone

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, there’s no need to face the aftermath alone. The bottom line is that big insurers know how to manipulate the average policyholder to limit their company’s liability for any accident or injury claim. You need to seek out the counsel, guidance, and negotiating skills of an experienced attorney to pursue the compensation you deserve. 

In the Atlanta, Georgia area and in surrounding communities, reach out to The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC. You will receive personalized, one-on-one attention and be involved in every decision and step of the process. Your best interests come first.