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

how long does it take to get settlement money from a car accident

The time it takes to finish a car accident lawsuit can depend on whether it ends in a settlement or a trial. Although many people expect to take their case to court, it is rather unlikely that your case will go to trial.

The majority of car accident lawsuits will settle before ever reaching trial. Nevertheless, you should never succumb to pressure to accept the first settlement offer from an insurance company. 

Insurance companies are mainly interested in settling your car accident claim for as little as possible. Therefore, their first settlement offer is likely woefully inadequate to cover all of your losses.

An experienced attorney can alleviate this pressure off by negotiating with the opposing party’s insurance company on your behalf. Although a quick settlement check may solve your money issues temporarily, it may leave you with far less money than you deserve.

Contact a seasoned car accident lawyer at Starpoint Law to schedule a free initial consultation. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Settlement Money from a Car Accident?

After you suffer injuries in a car accident, you understandably want reimbursement for your damages as soon as possible. You probably have mounting expenses and need the settlement check to pay your bills.

But how long does it take to get settlement money from a car accident? Unfortunately, the answer depends on the circumstances of your specific car accident.  Generally, settling a car accident claim is a slow process. Recovery can take even longer if your car accident lawsuit proceeds to trial. 

Ways to Speed Up a Car Accident Settlement Check

While we cannot tell precisely how long a car accident will take to settle, you can take specific steps to ensure the case proceeds efficiently. Follow the steps below to speed up the settlement check timeline in California.

Contact Police to Report Your Accident

You should contact 911 and report the car accident immediately unless an eyewitness contacts them before you do. The responding officer will create a formal accident report that includes: 

  • Names of the parties involved,
  • Names of the parties’ insurance carriers,
  • Eyewitness statements,
  • Contact information for eyewitnesses, and
  • Officers’ opinions about who caused the accident.

The accident report can give your car accident attorney crucial information about your collision. 

Seek Medical Treatment

You should always seek medical treatment after a car accident, even when injuries do not present symptoms right away. The treating physician will document relevant information about the injuries you suffered in the accident. The medical documents from this visit will help establish the severity of your injury in a future lawsuit.

Gather Relevant Evidence

In many cases, the best evidence for a lawsuit is at the scene of the car accident.

If you can do so safely, collect the following evidence before it disappears:

  • Pictures of the crash scene,
  • Pictures of your injuries, 
  • Markings on the road, and
  • Names and statements of any witnesses.

Once you leave the crash location, someone will start to clean up the scene and destroy any remaining evidence.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

The sooner an attorney reviews your case, the sooner you can initiate the lawsuit process and start working toward a settlement. Moreover, getting an attorney involved in your case during early stages will help minimize mistakes that may reduce your final settlement.

How to Determine Whether to Accept a Settlement Offer

When someone suffers injuries in a car accident, they understandably want to receive compensation for their losses as soon as possible. However, once you accept a settlement offer, your right to seek compensation ends.

You do not get to come back later and ask for more money. Therefore, you want to make sure the offer you accept fully compensates you for your past and future losses. An attorney can calculate the value of your losses to ensure your settlement is fair. Car accident settlements in California consist of economic and noneconomic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to concrete monetary losses caused by your car accident injuries. Examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical bills,
  • Vehicle repair bills,
  • Rehabilitation costs, 
  • Lost wages, and
  • Loss of future earning capacity.

An attorney can use receipts and invoices to compile the value of your economic losses.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages refer to abstract, non quantifiable damages that compensate you for harms like:

  • Disfigurement,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Pain and suffering, or
  • Psychological trauma.

The abstract nature of noneconomic damages makes them more complicated to calculate. We can consult with economic experts to assign a dollar value to your noneconomic losses.

When Is It Too Late to Initiate a Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits imposes a time period during which you must file your claim. In California, if you do not file your lawsuit within two years of the car accident, you may lose your right to file the claim entirely. The statute of limitations can shrink to only six months if the at-fault party is a government employee.

Although you must file the personal injury claim within two years, the lawsuit does not need to finish before the statutory period ends.

How Long Does It Take to Get Settlement Money from a Car Accident? Contact a Car Accident Attorney at Starpoint Law to Find Out

When navigating a car accident lawsuit settlement, you need a dedicated lawyer who is prepared to negotiate with the insurance company and fight aggressively for a fair settlement offer.

A car accident attorney can help you by:

  • Gathering and analyzing evidence to prove who caused the car accident;
  • Preparing witnesses to testify in your case;
  • Negotiating with insurance representatives on your behalf;
  • Compiling the value of your economic and noneconomic losses; and
  • Take your case to trial, if necessary.

We will not hesitate to take your case to trial if the opposing party refuses to give you a fair settlement offer. No matter the circumstances in your case, our lawyers are prepared to advocate for you. Contact our team at Starpoint Law to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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