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How Long Does it Take for an Insurance Company to Pay Out a Car Accident Claim?

September 13, 2021

If you get into a vehicle accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver, you should be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and property damage expenses. However, how long will you have to wait until an insurance carrier sends over a settlement check? Here, we want to discuss the various factors that go into how long it takes for an insurance claim to settle after a car accident in California.

What Factors Affect Car Accident Insurance Settlement Timelines?

We wish we could give a definitive answer to explain how long it takes an insurance settlement check to arrive in the mail or in your bank account. However, no two vehicle accident claims in California are exactly alike. Even though most vehicle accidents will be resolved through settlement with insurance carriers, there are various factors that can affect how quickly these claims are settled.

Often, a car accident victim harmed due to the negligence of another driver is able to receive a settlement check relatively quickly, maybe even within a few weeks after the incident occurs. However, this will typically only occur for a relatively minor vehicle accident and if liability is fairly clear.

Unfortunately, not all vehicle accident claims in California are settled quickly. Some of the factors that can affect how long it takes for these cases to settle include the following:

  • Dispute over fault. If there is any dispute over who caused the vehicle accident, insurance carriers will conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that they do not pay out anymore compensation than they should.
  • Medical treatment needed. Vehicle accident claims should never be settled until after the injury victim has reached what is considered maximum medical improvement (MMI). A person reaches MMI when no further medical care will improve their situation or when they have already made it to recovery. Only a doctor can determine when a person has reached this point. If a claim is settled before a person reaches MMI, there will not be a way for them to go back and secure more compensation if their injuries worsen or if they need additional treatment. 
  • Dispute over settlement amount. Even if liability is clear for an accident, an insurance carrier may disagree with how much money they have to payout. They could disagree with how much compensation to pay for medical bills, property damage or vehicle repair, or how much to pay for pain and suffering.

If any of the issues mentioned above arise after a vehicle accident, it could take quite some time for the insurance claim to resolve. Instead of a few weeks, an insurance settlement process could drag out for months or even more than a year.

If the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement, or if they deny a claim, it may be necessary for the crash victim to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover compensation. As soon as a case enters the civil court system through a lawsuit, this will significantly draw out the time frame. Personal injury cases can take years to resolve. It is crucial to work with a skilled California car accident attorney who can fully examine the incident and help properly determine the best route towards securing compensation for their client.

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