The simplest answer is: No. Not every car accident injury claim is filed as a lawsuit, nor do they go to trial. In fact, most claims settle before a lawsuit is even filed. The settlement process includes obtaining all the right documents to submit to the insurance company, including: police reports, witness statements, medical records and bills, and photographs. The more information you submit to the insurance company before you file a lawsuit, the more likely it is your case will settle before you have to file a lawsuit. Statistics show that around 95% of car accident injury claims settle without having to go to trial.
The negotiating and settlement process can take a few months. Medical records and bills take around a month to be delivered. If you have a Medicare or Medicaid lien on any potential settlement, the process of contacting them and allowing them the necessary time to assess their lien takes even long—usually around 2-3 months. Documents also have to be sent back and forth during this time. To settle a claim, the insurance company has to agree that their insured injured you, caused the accident, and that your injuries were a direct result of the car accident. While a vast majority of car accident injury claims do get settled before a lawsuit is filed, other claims may have issues holding up the settlement process.
Here are a few reasons why your car accident injury claim does no get settled before filing a lawsuit:
You Have Not Sent The Insurance Company All The Information They Need
As mentioned above, insurance companies will assess a lot of documents to evaluate how much compensation you deserve for your car accident injury. If they do not have all of the right information, they will not settle your claim. Pertinent documents include police reports, witness statements, medical records and bills, and other evidence, like photographs. The more information you have showing the other party was at fault and that you suffered a car accident injury, the more likely to it is that the insurance company will properly assess how much your car accident injury case is worth.
There is an Argument Over Who Was at Fault
Insurance companies rely on documents to assess what happened right before a car accident injury occurred. They look at police reports, witness statements, medical records and medical bills. But they were not at the car accident scene. They did not witness what occurred. Therefore, they have to rely on documents written by people who either witnessed the accident or took statements. Sometimes it is not clear who was at fault. Sometimes the documents may suggest more than one person was at fault for a car accident injury. Insurance companies are less likely to settle if they do not feel that their insured was responsible for causing your car accident injury. An experienced car accident injury attorney will negotiate your claim to put you in better position to settle if you do not want to file a lawsuit.
You Have Pre-Existing Injuries
Although your previous injuries are likely not your fault, insurance companies will use them against you to avoid paying you compensation for their insured’s negligence. It is no secret that insurance companies evaluate your past medical treatment. If you have a pre-existing injury on the same body part as your new injury, the insurance company may very well deny your claim outright. If they do not outright deny your claim, they will most certainly low-ball your compensation offer before you have to file a lawsuit.
The Insurance Company Will Not Pay For Your Medical Bills
If an insurance company is not offering to pay your medical bills you will be less likely to settle. An insurance company should pay your medical bills after you have experienced a car accident injury if their insured was at fault. If they are offering you less money than your medical bills do not settle your claim and sign a release.
The Statute of Limitations is Running
Statute of limitations is the time limit you have to file a claim after a car accident injury. Once you are injured, the time period begins to run in most instances. You may have to file your claim in order to preserve it if the statute of limitations is running. Preserving the claim will still allow you to seek compensation. Filing a case to preserve the statute of limitations allows you more time to negotiate with the insurance company in order to settle your car accident injury claim.
You Are Not Finished Treating
If you have already started the car accident injury claims process then this is most likely the only thing holding up your case. Your goal should be to get better physically, emotionally, and financially. You need to seek medical treatment in order to achieve this goal. The negotiation process to settle your car accident injury claim should not begin until you have finished treating for your injuries.
You Are Not Represented By An Attorney
Insurance companies will not feel the pressure to settle with you unless you are represented by an attorney. They will low-ball you because they do not believe you understand how much your claim is actually worth. Many states have insurance bad faith laws that hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire. Demands must be met within the given time frame—usually 30 days. They must investigate your claim and injuries to settle your claim. Experienced car accident injury attorneys will hold the insurance company accountable during the negotiation process.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.