Car Accident Settlement Process in California (2024)

If you’ve been in a car accident, then you know that many costs come with it. Medical bills, repairs for your car, and the psychological toll all weigh upon the victims of these accidents. Those costs are the responsibility of whoever caused the accident, although they are usually paid out by their insurance company. It can be hard, though, to get what you’re seeking. With the aid of a California car accident attorney, though, you can give yourself a strong chance of getting what you’re owed.

Car Accident Settlement Process in California

Settling a California Car Accident Claim

Ultimately, someone who was at fault for a car accident is liable for the costs that they put on another person. However, if they have a valid insurance policy, this liability becomes the responsibility of that insurance company. Sometimes, these companies must be forced to pay what they owe through a personal injury claim against them in civil court. However, that’s usually an option of last resort. If acceptable terms can be found, then these situations are often solved through a settlement.

Advantages of a Settlement

For many people, the opportunity to settle a case offers some distinct advantages. It takes away the uncertainty of going to court. Even the strongest of cases can result in a ruling that you were never expecting. Many people prefer to avoid that risk if they can get the right price. A settlement can also happen much more quickly than a civil court process, which could last months or years. 

Settling a case, though, can be tricky, and working with an experienced Sacramento, CA, car wreck lawyer can be vital to ensuring that you come to acceptable settlement terms.

How a Lawyer Can Help Secure a Good Settlement

To make sure that they are arguing from a strong footing, your lawyer probably wants to investigate the circumstances of your accident. They need to understand which parties are potentially liable for the accident and your injuries. Once they have that understanding, there can be a process of back-and-forth negotiations with the insurance companies. 

Given a lawyer’s involvement, these companies are more likely to recognize the possibility of a claim going to court. If they are serious about wanting to avoid that, then they will negotiate with a more serious offer than the lowball that they might try to sneak by someone who represents themselves. 

If the two sides can reach an agreement, then both parties will need to sign it. They must also sign documentation saying that the matter is settled and a claim can’t be brought. Then, the compensation will be delivered according to the terms of the agreement.

It’s important that these negotiations finish before the start of the civil court process, as negotiations can continue even when the trial is scheduled and looming. It’s also important not to let the insurance companies wait out the applicable statute of limitations, or else the possibility of going to court no longer becomes a viable threat.

FAQs

Q: How Long Will It Be Until You Receive the Funds Agreed to in a Settlement?

A: The time from settling a claim until you finally receive the funds will depend on what’s decided in the agreement. In most cases, there will be an agreed-upon time, like 30 or 60 days, by which point the full sum needs to be delivered to the plaintiff. In some cases, it could be arranged for there to be a series of payments timed out according to the agreement, but this is not typically done. 

Q: How Can a Lawyer Help With a Settlement?

A: Having a lawyer negotiate on your behalf could be critical to getting a good settlement. One benefit is that insurance companies are less likely to significantly lower their offer when a lawyer is involved. They know they won’t be able to get away with that. 

They also are more likely to realize that taking the claim to court is a more credible threat when a lawyer is involved. The knowledge that a lawyer has with regard to negotiating and what is reasonable to expect can also be very helpful in these kinds of circumstances. On the whole, working with a lawyer can lead to a more serious negotiating partner in the insurance companies while giving your claim a better chance of getting the funds you need.

Q: Should I Settle My Claim or Go to Court?

A: Whether to settle your claim or take it to court will be a personal decision. It will also be highly specific to your car accident claim. However, it is generally worthwhile to recognize that a settlement is a compromise. You may be giving up an opportunity for a greater financial award in court. 

What you get instead, though, is a guaranteed payment without the risk of getting nothing. Also, if a settlement occurs quickly, you may be saving a significant amount of time in the process, as the court process could drag on for months and possibly years.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Settle a Claim?

A: The time it will take to settle a claim will vary from situation to situation. In some cases, where there is an agreeable insurance company, a case might be settled in a few weeks. However, other cases might not settle at all before a trial. In theory, a claim must be settled before a final verdict comes in, but getting a settlement could still take years.

Get Help With Your Car Accident Claim

Those who have been in a car accident recognize that there are significant costs incurred by it. From the injuries, there are likely medical bills, including doctors’ evaluations, medications, physical therapy, possible surgeries, and more. There’s likely damage to the car that needs to be repaired, and it may even need to be replaced. There are also less tangible costs involved, like pain and suffering.

It’s important that a settlement covers all these costs. To ensure that you get what you’re owed, it can be helpful to work with a California car accident lawyer, like with Kreeger Law Firm. Contact us for help with your car accident claim.