How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take to Settle in Houston?
When you get into a car accident in Houston and someone else is at least partly responsible, you could be entitled to compensation. How long will it take for you to get money in your hands after a crash?
It depends. Your case could be resolved in a matter of days, weeks, or even months. There are a lot of different factors that will have an influence on how long it takes your car accident case to settle. Our Houston car accident attorneys have broken down the information you need to know.
Your Car Accident Case Will Probably Involve an Insurance Company
Following a crash, filing an insurance claim is typically the first step toward recovering damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and suffering. How the insurance company handles your claim can, directly and indirectly, influence how long the case takes to settle.
Texas Has Fault-Based Insurance Rules
First, it’s important to know that your car accident case will almost certainly involve an insurance company. Everyone who owns a car in the state of Texas must purchase an auto insurance policy. When an auto accident occurs, insurance is the primary source of compensation for anyone who suffers damage or gets hurt.
In Texas, the at-fault party’s insurance company is responsible for the costs related to a collision. If you are involved in a wreck in Houston and another driver is to blame, you can file a claim to recover benefits from that driver’s policy.
Insurance Companies Aren’t On Your Side
You’ve probably seen dozens of advertisements for car insurance companies on TV. The ads probably say something along the lines of “we’ll always be here for you” or “we’re on your side.” However, that’s really not the case. Insurance providers are for-profit companies. They’re in business to make money. Insurers do not make money when they approve insurance claims and pay benefits to injured crash victims like you.
So, insurance companies will go to great lengths to find a way to get out of paying you any or all of the money you deserve. Here are a few tactics adjusters might employ to tip things in their favor.
Offering You an Early Settlement: Adjusters might rush to offer you a settlement early in the claims process. Be wary and skeptical of these offers. While money might be incredibly helpful right now, accepting this early offer could do a lot of damage in the long run. That’s because, when you accept, you’ll be asked to waive the right to seek additional compensation in the future. When the costs of your injury turn out to be way more than you originally anticipated, you’ll be stuck with the bill.
Asking You to Make a Recorded Statement: When an insurance company asks you questions, they’re probably fishing for information that could be used to deny or limit your claim. So, don’t answer questions or offer details. Certainly do not make a recorded statement unless you’ve been advised to do so by an attorney.
Use Fear and Scare Tactics: When adjusters offer a settlement, they might use your emotional distress to encourage you to accept it. They might try to scare you into accepting the offer by stating that it’s the best and only offer you’ll get. They might put a clock on the offer, with the hopes that you won’t be able to have an attorney review the offer before time expires.
Denying Your Claim in Bad Faith: Insurance companies have to evaluate your claim in good faith. This means giving it the proper time, attention, and consideration. However, sometimes insurance adjusters will simply deny a claim without a reason or justification. Why? They hope you won’t notice or know they’ve crossed the line. They hope you won’t fight back and call them out for these shady practices.
Blaming You For Your Injuries: Insurers will search for any reason to say that (a) liability is unclear or (b) the accident was partly or totally your fault. In doing so, the insurer can potentially sidestep paying you some or all of the money you deserve.
We mention these tactics because they can absolutely have an impact on how long your car accident case takes to settle. If these strategies aren’t countered, your case can and probably will settle very quickly. However, you’ll be left with a settlement amount for way less money than your case is worth.
Even when an insurance company considers a claim in good faith, its adjusters will still search for legitimate reasons to deny your claim. If it can’t find a reason to deny it, it’ll work diligently to limit how much money the company is ultimately forced to pay.
The best way to secure substantial compensation for your car accident injuries is by enlisting the help of a qualified Houston car accident lawyer. The process might take a little bit longer, but when you recover a significant settlement or win a verdict at trial, that additional time can be well worth it.
Factors That Can Influence the Amount of Time a Car Accident Claim Takes to Settle
Car accidents in Texas are complicated. They can be messy. It can take time to figure out why a collision happened and who is to blame. When a claim is ultimately filed, it will almost certainly be contested. Here are some factors that will likely influence how long your case will take to resolve.
The Severity of Your Injuries: The more serious your injuries, the longer it can take for a claim to settle. Why? It’s important to wait until you have a clear picture of your path to recovery and how your injuries will affect your life in the months and years to come. If you settle your claim too early, you might not be working with all of the information you need to know what your case is really worth.
Shared Fault and Liability: Settlements can be swift when one person or party is clearly responsible for an accident. However, things tend to take longer when more than one person contributes to a crash. This is due to the fact that, under Texas’s modified comparative negligence rules, fault is apportioned between all liable parties. So, an investigation must be conducted to determine the precise role everyone played. This can take time and is often contested. Until liability is divided up and allocated, a settlement is unlikely.
Assessing Non-Economic Damages: The value of economic damages is often much easier to assess than the value of non-economic damages. That’s because economic costs have a price tag. They come with receipts. They have a standard economic and monetary value.
Non-economic damages do not. These are consequences of an accident that are subjective and personal. Determining what your pain and suffering are worth can be a challenging and time-consuming process. The more you and an insurance company disagree over the value of your case, the longer it will take to reach a settlement.
Appeals: You have the right to appeal an insurance company’s decision to deny a claim or reject a settlement offer. However, the appeals process takes time. If you decide to appeal a denial or insurance company decision, it will take longer to get money in your hands after an accident. However, remember that the wait is often worth it.
Most, But Not All, Personal Injury Cases Reach a Settlement
The vast majority of car accident cases settle privately. Insurance companies and injured crash victims are able to find mutually-agreeable settlement terms. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes insurance companies will refuse to approve a claim. Other times, they’ll extend an offer that’s downright insulting. When that happens, and the company’s internal appeals process gets you nowhere, you can file a lawsuit and take your fight to court.
When a car accident case goes to trial, it often takes considerably longer to recover compensation. Preparing for a trial takes time. Going to trial is also more costly than negotiating a settlement privately. However, if the facts are on your side, the outcome can be much more beneficial.
At Attorney Brian White & Associates, we’re known as some of the most respected and feared trial lawyers in Houston, Texas. Insurance companies are well aware of our ability to sway a jury and win huge verdicts for our clients. With this knowledge in hand, they’ll probably think twice before risking a showdown against our team at trial. Our reputation, experience, and history of success can be a huge asset for you and help to accelerate negotiations in your favor.
Schedule a Call With Our Houston Injury Lawyers Today
Don’t try to negotiate with insurance companies on your own after a car accident. Let our experienced Houston personal injury attorneys take the lead on your case and fight to get you a swift and substantial car accident settlement.
You’ll have to make sure your lawsuit is filed within the applicable statute of limitations, so it’s important to act quickly. Our law firm offers a free consultation, so give us a call to arrange yours today.