A car accident attorney in Houston, TX can help bring your case to a favorable close quickly. While a number of factors can influence the settlement timeline, your attorney will put forth every possible effort to move quickly and efficiently. And they will provide peace of mind during an emotional time for you and your family.
How Long Does It Take Your Houston, TX Car Accident Attorney to Get a Settlement?
The best answer we can offer is this: it depends. Your case could be resolved in just a matter of weeks, or it could take months. Some cases require little more than a series of phone calls and demand letters. Others are more complex and demand intense negotiations with the insurance provider.
It’s important to understand Texas abides by fault-based insurance rules. Every vehicle owner in Houston, TX, and the rest of the state must purchase and maintain an auto insurance policy. This is where the at-fault rules apply. If another party is responsible for your accident, you can file a claim to recover damages from that driver’s insurance provider. Damages can include compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Present and future medical expenses
The Insurance Company
The way in which an insurance provider handles your claim can significantly influence the amount of time it takes to settle your case. Insurance providers are for-profit companies that operate for the purpose of making money, like any business. Paying benefits to injured accident victims does not improve their bottom line. They will therefore look for ways to dismiss you and your claim.
Low-Ball Settlement Offers
To illustrate, insurance adjusters typically offer a low-ball settlement early in the claims process. These offers sound tempting, especially when cash is tight, but accepting can do real damage to your case in the long run.
The adjuster usually makes the offer conditional on you waiving your right to seek additional compensation in the future. Meanwhile, your injury may turn out to be more extensive than you initially realized, meaning the monies you received were inadequate.
Common Tactics Used
The adjuster may also employ emotional distress to encourage you to accept the offer provided. They may say this is the best and only offer you’ll receive and not taking it will only jeopardize your financial future. An alleged clock may even be attached to the offer as a way of applying additional pressure. This is done to discourage you from speaking to an attorney before the time expires.
An insurance adjuster is also likely to be friendly when speaking to you. They’ll ask questions and possibly query if you’re ready to make a recorded statement. This is a thinly veiled effort to seek information they can use to deny or reduce your claim. It’s best to not answer any questions or provide details to an adjuster. And never make a recorded statement unless your attorney advises you to do so.
Denial and Blame
The insurance company is obligated to evaluate your claim in good faith. This means paying the necessary time and consideration to arrive at a fair and unbiased decision. But some adjusters instantly deny claims without providing reasonable justification. They hope you won’t question their motives and instead quietly accept the decision.
In this same vein, adjusters will use any reason they can find to blame you for your injuries. This relieves them of their settlement duties. Common things they may say include:
- The accident was at least partly your fault
- Real liability is unclear
- Your injuries aren’t as extensive as they appear to be
The Time Link
You should be aware of these tactics because they can seriously impact how long it takes your case to settle. If you don’t fight back, your case will likely settle very quickly. The trade-off, however, will be significantly less money in your hand than you could have received. The best way to ensure a fair settlement is with the aid of a qualified car accident attorney in Houston, TX.
Additional Factors to Consider
The insurance company isn’t the only factor that impacts your case’s timeframe. Your injuries will play a part as well. The more severe they are, the longer it can take to reach a settlement. It’s crucial you and your attorney wait until a clear recovery path has been established. You also need to know how your injuries will influence your life in the coming months and years. Settling too early keeps you from knowing the true value of your case.
While settlements are easier to reach when one party or person is visibly responsible for an accident, a car crash is rarely so straightforward. Multiple parties sometimes contribute, and under Texas’s modified comparative negligence rules, fault must be divided between all liable persons. An investigation must then be conducted to determine each driver’s precise role. This can take time, and parties have the right to contest the investigation’s results.
Evaluating Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages like lost wages are much easier to calculate than non-economic damages. The former have an actual price tag and can be substantiated with written records.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, do not have a standard monetary value. They are subjective and personal consequences of an accident that can be challenging to calculate. The more you and the insurance company argue over the value of your case, the longer it takes to reach a settlement. In most cases, the negotiation process takes three to six months after doctors have discharged you from their care.
Most Accidents Settle
Most car accident cases privately settle, in which victims and insurance providers reach mutually agreeable settlement terms outside of court. Although this is not always the case, it is the most common. And by avoiding court, you’re able to receive remuneration more quickly.
When Trial Is Necessary
Sometimes, however, insurance companies refuse to approve a claim. In other instances, they extend an offer that is far from adequate. These scenarios typically require that you file a lawsuit and take the case to court.
This route will take longer to recover compensation, but it is sometimes a necessary component of justice. When the evidence supports your argument, and your car accident attorney presents it in a deft manner, the outcome can be much more beneficial. A trial date in Houston, TX, can be established anywhere from six months to a year from your filing date. This timeline is determined by the court and depends on the current caseload.
Settlement Is Still Possible
Even after a lawsuit is filed, your case may still be settled before the trial date. This is quite common with car accident lawsuits. But the trial will proceed as expected if an agreement still cannot be reached. This means evidence will be presented to the court by both your attorney and that of the defendant(s). Evidence may be comprised of multiple items, including testimony from expert witnesses, accident witnesses, and you.
Once the judge or jury returns a verdict, the judge will sign the order of judgment. Either party may appeal within a specific period of time. But if no appeal is made and the final judgment is entered, both parties are prohibited from again trying the case.
Working with a car accident attorney can ease your burdens and help you receive the largest settlement possible. They will gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in court – if necessary. Schedule your consultation today by contacting the office of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner.