One of the questions that nearly every client of our Texas personal injury law firm asks is “how long will it take to settle my insurance claim?” Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to foresee how long it will take at the beginning of a case, because there are a lot of factors that come into play that affect how quickly your claim can be settled.
One thing is certain though; rushing the settlement of your injury claim is almost always a mistake. In my book “10 Deadly Mistakes That Can Kill Your Texas Accident Case” I discuss why rushing to settle your claim is a big mistake. You can get a free copy of my book here.
The three main factors that influence how long it will take to settle your claim are:
- How Badly You Were Injured
- The Insurance Company Involved
- Whether a Lawsuit is Needed
Your Injuries & Medical Treatment
The most decisive factor in determining how long it will take to settle your injury case is how badly you were injured. This is because the worse the injuries, the longer it will take you to get the treatment you need to either recover from your injuries or reach MMI (maximum medical improvement). MMI is a term used to describe someone who is finished treating, but wasn’t able to return to pre-injury functioning (basically, you’re as healed as you’re going to get, but not 100%).
As discussed on page 68 of my book “10 Deadly Mistakes That Can Kill Your Texas Accident Case,” one of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting in a rush to settle your claim before your injuries, and required treatment, is known.
If you settle your injury claim before the full extent of your injuries is fully known, you will not know how much treatment your injuries will require, nor will you know how much your medical bills will be. This will almost always cause you to severely undervalue your injury claim, leaving you stuck paying much of your medical bills out of your own pocket – huge mistake!
Also, until you have reached your MMI, you will not know how your injuries will affect you into the future. Sometimes, if therapy and conservative measures have failed to provide relief from pain, you have to be referred to a specialist or surgeon, which can end up costing more money and taking more time.
That is why you should never settle with the at-fault driver’s insurance company before you know the full extent of your injuries. Rushing to settle your claim is a huge mistake. We get calls regularly from people who settled their claim with the insurance company, and want to see if the settlement can be reversed because they found out they need surgery, or have other medical issues that weren’t anticipated. Sadly, once you sign that release, you’re done – period. There is no going back to the insurance company – they won’t pay you a penny more, no matter how compelling your story.
The Insurance Companies Involved
Another factor in determining how quickly your claim will settle depends upon the insurance company the at-fault driver has. Why does this matter?
Simply put, all insurance companies are not the same. Cut-rate, el-cheapo insurance companies are often difficult to deal with, and will fight you on every little detail, and every penny. While this is true witih most insurance companies, it’s especially true with low-cost insurance providers (in my experience and opinion, Fred Loya, ACCC, and Pronto are among the worst). Because their rates are generally lower, they will fight you tooth and nail, and are generally very unreasonable.
When the other driver’s insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, it can dramatically increase the time it takes to settle your claim. Often times you have to sue these companies to make them pay you a fair settlement – this increases the time it takes to settle a claim.
Filing a Lawsuit
As mentioned above, filing a lawsuit is sometimes required if the insurance company doesn’t offer you a reasonable settlement. This increases the amount of time it will take to settle your claim. Lawsuits can take more than a year to resolve.
Don’t Miss Important Deadlines
If you’ve been working with the insurance company on your claim for 6-8 months, and haven’t gotten a reasonable offer to settle your claim, you should contact an experienced injury lawyer because there are strict timelines that must be met. If you miss one of these deadlines, you will likely be prevented from making a claim at all.
I received a call recently from someone who had been trying to handle their claim on their own. The insurance adjuster informed him that they were withdrawing all previous offers because the statute of limitations had passed. He wanted to know what he could do. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations is the date by which you must file a lawsuit, otherwise you will not be able to bring a claim. This particular person missed that date, and did not receive a single penny to compensate him for any of his medical bills, lost wages, or other damages.
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