How Long Does It Take for a Settlement After a Car Accident?

Car accident victims have a common question: how long does it take to get a settlement check in a car accident case? The next most asked question is how long after a demand letter can you expect to receive a settlement check?

The reason you are asking how long it will take the insurance company to pay you is obvious.  You want to put your car crash – which was likely very traumatic - behind you. And, understandably, you want to get as much money as you can as quickly as you can. This is not greedy. This is what a civil claim is all about. 

Before getting an initial off which is, of course, the critical first step to getting a settlement check, three things must happen:

  1. Treatment is completed or the patient is at maximum medical improvement.  The timeline on this, of course, is anywhere from 1 day to years.
  2. All of the medical records and bills must be obtained along with any expert reports for future lost wages and medical bills.  The timetable on this varies with the volume of medical records and reports that must be collected and the range is between days and months. 
  3. Getting a response to the demand package.  This takes between 15 and 90 days, usually closer to the former than the latter with most insurance companies.  (We look at all the major insurance companies and take a look at the average of how long they take to respond.)
Let's take a deeper look at the three key variables to how long your case will take until your case reaches the settlement stage so you can get a better idea of what to expect in your case.  

Treatment Is Finished or at Maximum Medical Improvement

First, the client has to either (1) fully recover and need no further treatment, or (2) reach maximum medical improvement, which means that while the client may need additional treatment, this is as good as the client is likely to get.

Alternatively, if future surgery or other medical procedures have not yet been performed, an accident lawyer can ask a doctor to give an estimate of what the costs of the future surgery/procedure will cost. This is often the biggest reason there is a delay in settling a serious injury claim. The solution? The key is knowing the doctors -- at this point, we know so many of them -- or know how to reach the doctor to get a report that will allow you to claim your future expenses that are reasonably anticipated.

  • How much can you expect for a first offer?  Take a look at a few insurance companies. 
  • Example demand letters: sample demand letters in different types of personal injury cases that maximize the value of the claims.
  • The value of your case: connect the data to your case to help you figure out what your case's settlement value might be.
All of the Clients Medical Bills and Records Have Been Obtained

What makes cases settle as quickly as they possibly can? Lawyers and paralegals working hard.

If a case is going to be settled fast without a lawsuit for top value, a car accident lawyer will need to obtain all of the medical records and bills for the client. At our law firm and many personal injury firms, it is the lawyer’s job to collect the medical bills and records.

This is essential. Settlement before a lawsuit in an accident claim is going to be based almost exclusively on the nuances of the victim's medical records. How these records reflect the injuries is – at this stage of the game – the most important variable the insurance companies use to determine value.

Are the records enough? It depends. In most cases, the doctor's critical opinions are contained in the four corners of the medical records. In others, we need the doctors to, as we discussed above, offer opinions on future medical care or to clarify ambiguity in the medical records.

The Demand Package: Waiting for a Response

After a settlement demand is sent with all of the relevant medical bills and records and other information necessary to resolve the claim, it takes the insurance company time to evaluate the claim. It should not take more than three weeks for most claims, but it often does, and your accident lawyer needs to be following up with the insurance company to keep your case at the front of the line. We always want to overpromise and underdeliver with our law firm's clients. (If we tell you we can do it in a week, internally that means it needs to be done in three days.) So we tell people that in most cases, the insurance company will have a settlement offer to us in 60 days.

If pre-suit settlement negotiations fail, your accident lawyer needs to push the ball forward as quickly as possible to get your money to you as soon as possible. Some insurance companies drag their feet after a settlement has been effectuated. It is important that accident lawyers stay on top of the insurance company to expedite you getting your settlement check as soon as possible. Our firm knows our clients want to get their money quickly and we push the insurance companies to get out the check immediately.

Some victims often ask us how long the insurance company has to respond.  In most states, there is no rule requiring the insurance company to respond at all.  There are not many duties owed by an insurance company to you if you are not their insured. Their primary goal is to pay you as little as possible.  There is no obligation for them to be fair with you. 

Before we leave this topic, there is one more thing you should know.  If you have gotten this far in this article, you really want to settle your case quickly.  But in the average serious injury case, you need to file a lawsuit to maximize the value of your case.  You do not have to file a lawsuit. Sometimes we value the speed of getting paid over the amount of compensation.  But you need to know that in many cases, you are leaving money on the table.  If we file a lawsuit and later settle it for many times more than the pre-suit offer, we are not surprised. The muscle of a lawsuit is what put fear into insuarnce companies and often gets them to pay far more than they would have considered before suit was filed. 

If Your Case Is in Suit

If a lawsuit has been filed for your insurance claim, your case can settle at any time. There are a few common natural inflection points for settlement.

The first opportune time to settle is right after the lawsuit has been filed. The insurance company now knows for the first time you are serious. With many insurance companies, this can often lead to an immediate and meaningful increase in the offer. The second inflection point is at the pre-trial conference after the discovery phase of the litigation is over (or at a private mediation). The third time that is ripe for a settlement is the literal courthouse steps. Insurance companies are at their most reasonable when a trial is imminent. Again, a case can settle at any point but these are the three most common post-lawsuit settlement opportunities.

Getting the Right Lawyer

Experienced counsel can help you to get the money you deserve for your injuries. We believe our attorneys are the best accident lawyers in Maryland. Miller & Zois' lawyers work to get you a quick settlement while still making sure the details are all in place to get you the best settlement possible.

Our lawyers have the experience to shorten the time to settlement by putting cases on the right track from the beginning. We stand up to the insurance companies to fight for fair compensation for the victims of car accidents, truck accident, and motorcycle accidents.

If you have been injured in an auto accident get a free online consultation or call 1-800-553-8082.

More Resources

Contact Us For a Free Consultation

1Free Consultation

2Available to talk NOW - 24/7

3No fees unless you WIN

Miller & Zois clients have received over $100 Million in verdicts and settlements. Let us fight for you!

Client Reviews

They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
I am so grateful that I was lucky to pick Miller & Zois. Maggie Lauer
The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa