Most car accident cases settle before they reach a trial. The question of how long does it take to negotiate a car accident settlement in Maryland depends on a range of factors, some of them out of your control. Your case may settle in 4-6 months or take as long as two years.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we know how important it is to settle a case quickly. Lawsuits are stressful. They take a toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing. However, rushing to resolve a case may not always be in your best interest. Our Baltimore car accident lawyer breaks down the factors that are important in how long it takes to negotiate a car accident settlement in Maryland.
Factors that Affect the Time it Takes to Resolve a Car Accident Case
The Complexity of the Collision
No two car accidents are the same. Some accidents are very straightforward. For example, if a distracted driver fails to stop, hits a car in front, and injures the driver, the blame is very straightforward. However, some cases involve more than one vehicle. We see chain-reaction accidents involving numerous cars. Some cases involve many injured drivers and passengers. On occasions, wrecked cars leave the road and hit a pedestrian or a cyclist.
Liability is not always straightforward in car accidents. Each driver may claim the other was to blame. In some cases, entities other than the drivers are held accountable for car accidents. A highway contractor could have caused the accident, a roadway may be defective, or a blown tire or a defective car could pull a manufacturer into the liability equation.
Your Baltimore personal injury lawyer considers the role played by all parties to a car crash and their respective liability. When a case involves multiple insurance claims that must be resolved, it typically takes considerably longer. In some cases, an injured party also has a workers’ compensation claim. If a trucker or a highway worker ended up injured in a traffic accident, he or she could be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Expert witnesses are often brought into disputed cases. Medical experts are used when a key injury claim is disputed. For example, many defendants dispute claims of traumatic brain injuries. They argue headaches are caused by car accident neck injuries or stress rather than TBIs because brain injuries can result in larger payouts. Medical experts can be hired by both sides. Accident reconstruction experts are enlisted in some cases. Economic experts can provide testimony about the extent of a loss.
When Insurance Companies Dispute the Claim
Insurance companies are more likely to fight cases when facts are disputed. When the parties disagree about key facts, cases can drag on for months and months. It’s usually prudent to file a lawsuit to make sure the three-year time limit under the Maryland Statute of Limitations does not become an issue.
Rear-end car accidents are usually more straightforward in proving liability than sideswipe or T-bone accidents at an intersection when both parties claim they had the right of way.
If an insurance company claims you were at fault or partly at fault for your injury, you can face an uphill battle to get a payout. On occasions, a police report can be incorrect. Charges may be disputed in traffic court. All of this takes time. If you hire a personal injury lawyer he can seek important information such as accident reports, and traffic camera footage through a process called discovery.
The Seriousness of Car Accident Victim Injuries
The seriousness of the victims’ injuries in a car accident has an impact on how long it takes to negotiate a car accident settlement in Maryland. Your medical treatment should be over or almost over before you make a claim or file a lawsuit for the obvious reason that you need to be compensated for the full extent of your injuries. But what happens when you have a permanent injury; a fracture that has complications, a spinal or a brain injury? In these cases, your injury lawyer will calculate the cost of your future medical needs. Typically, the negotiation process does not start until the victim has made a recovery of at least 90 percent.
It’s important to know the steps in the Maryland car accident injury process to have an idea of how long it takes.
Steps in the Maryland Car Accident Injury Settlement Process
- Get medical treatment – You should always seek medical treatment as soon as possible after you are injured in a car crash. An insurance company will use delays in treatment against you and your condition may get worse without prompt treatment.
- Hire a Maryland car crash injury lawyer – Hire a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the wreck that left you with injuries. If possible, shop around for an attorney who has plenty of experience in litigating car wrecks. You should talk to a lawyer before you speak to the other side’s insurance company. The adjuster will often seek to get an incriminating statement from a naive claimant.
- Investigate your case – The attorney will establish the facts of the case even before he or she decides whether or not to take you on as a client. We’ll collect police reports, interview transcript, and medical records.
- Send out a demand package – When you have recovered from your injuries and we know the extent of your claims, we will send out a demand package to the insurance company of the driver who caused the wreck. The claim will set out the basics of your claim. We will talk with you and include a proposed settlement amount.
- The response of the insurance company – The insurer will respond to the demand. On occasions, an insurance company accepts the demand and the case settles quickly, usually in a matter of months from the time of the crash. Often, the insurance company will respond with a lower offer or reject the claim altogether.
- The negotiation process – If your offer is rebuffed by the insurance company, a negotiation process will typically ensure between the insurer and your lawyer. This consists of claims and counterclaims. Your lawyer will often seek new evidence in an attempt to up the stakes.
- File a car accident lawsuit – The attorney will file a lawsuit if negotiations are unsuccessful. Negotiations with the insurance company continue up to the time of the trial. Both sides use a legal process called interrogatories. The party receiving the interrogatories answers the questions under oath, and typically must do so within 30 days or so. Giving false information can land a party before the criminal courts for contempt. Discovery is a great means of clearing up gray areas in a lawsuit. It can provide the ‘smoking gun’ that leads to the resolution of the case.
- Mediation – Mediation or alternative dispute resolution is used more and more often in car accident cases. Both parties to the case are brought to an informal hearing, often before a retired judge, to discuss the case and a possible settlement. Cases are often resolved at mediation shortly before the trial date.
- Trial – A minority of car accident cases end up before a judge and jury. Big cases against corporate defendants or very complicated cases are more likely to be dealt with this way. If your case goes to trial it can take two or three years from the date of the accident to reach a resolution.
Talk to a Baltimore Car Accident Attorney About Your Settlement
There is no easy answer to the question of how long it will take to negotiate a car accident settlement in Maryland. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we will advise you of some likely timeframes. However, the time a case takes depends on several factors such as the complexity of a case and the attitude of the insurance company. Please contact us today for a free personal injury consultation at 410-834-3845.