If you’re injured by a negligent driver in a North Charleston car accident, you may file a claim for your damages against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When you’re facing medical bills, car repair expenses, recovery, and more, you need compensation as soon as possible.
In some cases, you’ll receive your check a few weeks after the claim is settled. Before the check can even be issued, though, there’s a settlement process that usually takes at least a few months.
Steps In A North Charleston Car Accident Settlement Process
The process of receiving an insurance settlement has several steps.
Verifying insurance and filing claims.
Your attorney will obtain the insurance policy of the defendant(s) in your case and notify the insurance companies that you’re filing claims against them. In some cases, one of the companies could be yours.
Your lawyer will investigate your accident and collect evidence. This may include police reports, medical reports, photographs, medical bills, other accident-related bills, wage statements, and witness statements.
Waiting for MMI.
Your attorney will want to wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before actually filing your claim. MMI is the point at which you’ve recovered as much as you’re going to. Only then do you know what your future medical needs and expenses, lost wages, and disabilities might be. If you file your claim too soon, you might have unforeseen medical issues for which you cannot claim further compensation.
Once you’ve reached MMI, your lawyer will send the insurance company a demand letter including evidence of the at-fault driver’s negligence, your itemized medical expenses, your lost wage statements, and a calculation of damages for your pain and suffering.
The insurance company may respond with an offer lower than what you’re demanding. In this case, your attorney will then begin negotiations to get a fair award, which might require additional evidence or statements from expert witnesses.
A lawsuit (if necessary).
If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, your attorney will take your case to court. It’s always possible that a settlement will be reached before a trial actually begins.
It’s difficult to estimate how long your particular settlement process might take. In most cases, you should allow a few months before your check is issued. Some cases can take much longer, depending on:
- Severity of injuries
- Quality of evidence
- Recovery time before MMI
- Multiple defendants
- A dispute or denial by the insurance company
- A trial
What Happens Following A Settlement To Your South Carolina Car Accident?
Once the settlement process is complete, a check can be issued by the insurance company, and another multi-step process begins:
- Releases and other documents are signed.
- The insurance company issues a check.
- Your attorney deposits the check in an escrow account and pays your liens. This includes unpaid medical bills, any deductibles or other bills from your health insurance company, unpaid child support, outstanding taxes, and any Medicare or Medicaid costs.
- Your attorney deducts legal fees, court costs, etc.
- Your car accident attorney forwards a check to you.
Other Factors To Consider Regarding Settlement After A Car Accident
In most cases, you can probably expect your check a few to several weeks after your claim is settled, but there are other factors that can affect how long you wait:
- Insurance adjusters are not in a rush to part with any money. They might want releases signed and notarized before ordering a check to be issued.
- The accounting department of the insurance company has to get around to issuing the check.
- The mailing department has to physically put the check into the mail.
- Out-of-state banks might be involved. If so, checks have to clear (usually in 7-10 days) before money can be disbursed.
- Medicare or Medicaid expenses might be paid directly by the insurance company before the check is sent to your lawyer.
Although there’s no way to say exactly how long it will take for you to receive your check, an attorney will work to expedite the process.