Dark Mode
A car model and judge's hammer on a wooden desk
Blogs, Personal Injuries Blog

How Long Does A Car Accident Settlement Take? [Process + FAQs]

How long does car accident settlement take and what does the process look like?

That’s what we’re here to answer.

If you were recently injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation, to help cover your injuries, damage to your vehicle and more.

We’ll explain the settlement process, cover factors that can cause a delay, and share how our personal injury lawyers at Spar & Bernstein can help you reach a maximum settlement.

Looking for a motor vehicle accident lawyer?

We are here to help!

How Does The Car Accident Settlement Process Work?

If you were injured in a car accident, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for personal injury damages, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Property loss, such as vehicle repair costs

Typically, the settlement process includes several stages:

1. You File A Claim

The first step is to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Keep in mind that the Statute of Limitations, i.e. the period of time when you are permitted to file your claim, varies by state.

2. The Accident Is Investigated

Once your claim is filed, an insurance claims adjuster will investigate the circumstances around the accident, to determine whether your claims are valid.

  • The insurance adjuster checks every piece of evidence, including:
  • The accident police report
  • The statement of the other driver
  • Witness statements
  • Medical records
  • Photographs of the two vehicles
  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • The site where the accident happened
  • Additional evidence of financial damages

3. Expert Consultants Weigh In

During this stage, experts in different spheres related to your claim state their opinion of the accident, injuries and losses you have suffered.

These experts may include:

  • A mechanical or civil engineer, to provide insights on a possible vehicle malfunction or road problems
  • Your doctor, to provide information about your medical condition, including injuries and treatment, plus a long-term health prognosis
  • An accident reconstruction expert, to provide information about the factors that caused the accident and possibly create a digital rendering

4. The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Reviews The Policies

During this stage, the insurance company of the at-fault driver reviews your insurance policy, along with the policy of the at-fault driver.

If the at-fault driver has no valid insurance, or the coverage is not enough for the damages, your insurance company may cover the difference between the at-fault driver’s insurance and your needs.

5. The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Makes A Decision

Once the insurance company of the at-fault driver completes the investigation, your claim is either approved or denied.

If the insurance company approves your claim, it means they agree to cover your damages. Unfortunately, approval does not always mean fair compensation.

If you consider the settlement offered by the insurance company sufficient to cover your damages, you can choose to accept the settlement, ending the settlement process.

If you consider the amount insufficient, you can choose to seek adequate compensation by filing a lawsuit.

If you’re interested in filing a lawsuit, our experienced attorneys at Spar & Bernstein will review your case and determine whether a lawsuit is recommended.

If the insurance company denies your claim, they need to provide valid reasons for their decision.

If your claim is denied, you can:

  • Request mediation and meet the insurance company reps in the presence of an unbiased third party, who can help you reach an agreement. In the event of a successful mediation, you will be offered compensation for your damages, ending the settlement process.
  • File a lawsuit, seeking higher compensation

6. You Have The Option Of Filing A Lawsuit

If the settlement offered by the insurance company does not correspond to your needs or the insurance company denies your claim, you may seek resolution of your case in court.

This includes filing a car accident lawsuit with the court in the area where your accident took place or where the at-fault driver lives.

Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean a settlement cannot be reached outside court. Your attorney may negotiate an out-of-court settlement even after your lawsuit has been filed.

7. You Have The Option Of Going To Trial

Once you decide to seek compensation for your damages in court, you present your claim to a jury. Following the presentation of evidence and the examination of witnesses, the judge passes a verdict.

If you disagree with the verdict, you have the right to appeal the judge’s decision.

While the process of a car accident settlement can be complicated, at Spar & Bernstein, our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys will provide both professional and emotional support throughout the settlement process, and fight for you, always with your best interests in mind.

Need help with your car accident settlement?

Contact us!

Factors That Can Delay The Settlement Process

A long and complicated settlement process can be due to several factors:

1. Questioning Of Liability

If there is not enough evidence about who caused the accident, the insurance company may be reluctant to propose a settlement.

If the accident occurred in a comparative negligence state and you contributed to the accident, this can cause further delay, as the insurance company must establish the percentage of your fault, and deduct this amount from your compensation.

2. Number Of Parties Involved

If several parties contributed to your accident and are liable for your injuries, this can complicate your claim. For example, parties may extend to drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, or road construction companies.

3. Eyewitness Statements

If your accident occurred before multiple eyewitnesses and they provided statements, taking each statement can take up to several months.

4. Your Recovery Time

If you suffered severe injuries and are expected to undergo further treatment or are uncertain when you can go back to work, determining the final amount for your damages can be postponed.

Once you are fully recovered, your lawyer can claim the entire amount of your recoverable damages.

5. Your Decision To File A Lawsuit

If the insurance company denies your claim or you do not agree with the proposed settlement amount, you may decide to seek compensation in court. This can additionally prolong the settlement process.

A combination of several of the above factors can further prolong the time it takes to get your car accident settlement.

Looking to settle your car accident case?

Get in touch!

How Long Does A Car Accident Settlement Take?

Each personal injury case is different, which makes it difficult to determine the time it will take to reach a settlement in your specific case.

The length of the process depends on the complexity of your case, the severity of your injuries and whether you decide to seek compensation in court.

If your case is straightforward and your accident occurred in a no-fault state, a settlement can be reached in several months.

If your case is complex and involves serious injuries, questioning of liability, expected long-term recovery and expensive rehabilitation, it may take up to several years to reach a settlement.

At Spar & Bernstein, our knowledgeable motor vehicle accident lawyers will speed the process along as much as possible, without sacrificing a fair settlement.

A person signs a car accident settlement
A car accident settlement may take anywhere from several months to several years, depending on the complexity of your case​

How Spar & Bernstein Can Help With Your Car Accident Settlement

Since 1958, the tenacious team at Spar & Bernstein has represented thousands of motor vehicle accident victims, guiding them through the complicated settlement process and helping them reach the best outcome.

From lacerations and fractures to serious back and neck injuries demanding extensive treatment and costly surgery, our attorneys provided financial, mental and emotional support to our clients.

If you are seeking compensation after a car accident, we will:

  • Organize a free initial consultation to get to know your case
  • Research the specifics of your case
  • Compile the needed documentation and submit your personal injury claim
  • Communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf
  • Represent you in court, if an out-of-court settlement is not reached
  • Contact experts in different spheres to provide critical insights into the causes of the accident and your medical condition
  • Collect payment only after your case has been successfully resolved
Lawyers sign a settlement
At Spar & Bernstein, we will support you at each step of the process


Key Takeaways On The Process Of A Car Accident Settlement

A car accident settlement can take anywhere between several months and several years.

The length of the process depends on different factors, such as:

  • Questioning of liability
  • Number of parties involved
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Your recovery time
  • Your decision to file a lawsuit

To reach a settlement:

  1. You file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver
  2. The accident is investigated
  3. Expert consults weigh in
  4. The insurance company of the at-fault driver reviews policies
  5. The insurance company of the at-fault driver makes a decision
  6. You have the option of filing a lawsuit
  7. You have the option of going to trial

Our tenacious and compassionate motor vehicle accident attorneys at Spar & Bernstein can help you reach a fair settlement in the shortest possible time frame, so you can focus on recovery.

Need a lawyer in New York

Contact us!

Disclaimer: attorney advertisement. prior successful results do not guarantee a similar outcome

Bradford H. Bernstein

This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.

View Brad's Bio