When Will Your Car Accident Case Settle?
If you’re like most people, if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you’re worried about how you’re going to pay those mounting medical bills. An ambulance ride to the hospital is not cheap. Neither is spending time in a hospital bed. If you were not more than 50% at fault in the accident, you are entitled to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. And working with an experienced Dallas car accident lawyer can help ensure you file a timely insurance claim that is detailed enough to get you the insurance settlement you need, as quickly as possible.
A good lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company(ies), and if necessary, take your case before a jury if the insurance company doesn’t offer a reasonable settlement. The negotiation process, or a jury trial, can add weeks, months, or even years to the settlement process.
If your case is relatively straightforward, according to Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights, once you file an insurance claim, the insurance company has 15 days to acknowledge they received your claim. They then must approve or deny the claim within 15 days of receipt of all the information that they request. The insurance company may also request a 45 day extension, if they give a reasonable explanation for the request. You and your lawyer can keep the process moving quickly by being prepared with all of the information the insurance company needs.
If the insurance company denies your claim, you have the right to appeal, and file a lawsuit if necessary. Keep in mind, if you file a lawsuit, you must do so within two years of the date of the accident. If they approve your claim but you are not satisfied with the amount of the proposed settlement, you have the option to reject the settlement and negotiate for a higher amount. Once both sides have reached an agreement on a settlement, the insurance company must pay the claim within five days.
To know when your particular car accident case will actually settle, we need to look at several factors.
Is There a Police Report?
If the police arrived on the scene of your accident, there will be a police report. This Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3) is a detailed form using a lot of codes. It can be quite confusing, but your car accident lawyer should be able to help you sort through the legalese. A CR-3 can be invaluable to proving your case.
You or your lawyer can get a copy of the crash report. The CR-3 will detail a number of things, including when, where and how the accident happened. It will also include witness statements. If the other driver was arrested for DUI or reckless driving or some other infranction, the CR-3 will say so. Criminal charges against the other driver can help persuade the insurance company to settle quickly.
Who Was At Fault?
The police report may assign fault. It may also indicate that you were at least partly responsible for the accident, because you had a busted headlight, you were speeding, or something else. But since Texas is a “fault” car insurance state, as long as you were not more than 50% responsible for the accident, you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company or file a lawsuit if needed to compensate you for medical costs associated with the accident, as well as damage to your car.
If you file a lawsuit and win, any damages you might be awarded would be decreased by the percentage at which you were at fault. For example, say you were found to be 10% at fault in the accident. If you were awarded $10,000, you would receive $9000, because 10% or $1000, would be taken out of the awarded compensation. This happens due to the “proportionate responsibility” statute in Texas.
If there is not a police report, the insurance companies involved will assign fault. If you or someone with you is able, you can take your own pictures after the accident, or get contact information from any witnesses before they leave the scene. Any documentation you can get to support your case will be valuable in filing your claim.
How Badly Were You Injured?
Depending on how seriously you were injured, it may take longer to settle your claim, because both your lawyer and the insurance company will take longer to go through all of the related paperwork, including medical bills, doctor’s reports, the police report, witness statements and more. Your lawyer wants to make sure you are well taken care of now and in the future, but the insurance company is looking for ways to reduce your claim or deny it altogether.
What if the Other Other Driver is Not Insured?
If the other driver is not insured, we may be able to go after their employer if the accident occurred while they were on the job, or go after the construction company if construction debris played a part.
If you have uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy, we can help you file a thorough insurance claim with your own auto insurance company. How much you recover depends on your exact policy.
As you can see, there is no hard and fast answer to when your car accident case will settle. Each case is different, but we can tell you this: working with an experienced car accident lawyer can help speed up the process, and help you get a fair settlement. We have gone up against insurance companies on behalf of our clients for decades, and we know all the tricks of the trade.
Talk to Experienced Pintas & Mullins, a Dallas car accident law firm, for Free
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Texas, you may need to talk to a lawyer. Meeting with one of our experienced Dallas car accident lawyers is free and could help you reach a more than fair settlement of your case. We can meet with you in our office, your home, or anywhere else that is convenient for you.