How Long You Should Wait For Your Car Accident Settlement

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in , , .

Car accidents are already likely to shake you up, not to mention cause you harm. Knowing you might also have to fight for your insurance settlement can add to your exhaustion. No one wants to spend months going back and forth with their adjuster to get reimbursed for hefty medical bills.

Luckily, the experienced car accident attorneys at Matz Injury Law are happy to rid you of the burden of dealing with insurance companies. We can help negotiate on your behalf to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 1-866-22Not33 or use the online contact form for a free consultation.

What You Should Know About Settling Your Car Accident Claim in Michigan

After a car accident in Michigan, here are the steps required to settle your claim with the insurance company.

Investigate and Calculate Damages

A thorough investigation following a car accident is imperative. The collection of evidence to prove your claim may include the police report, photos and videos of the accident scene, witness statements, and more.

A determination of damages is also required. Your attorney will compile and review medical bills from your providers, work payment records, and any other documentation relevant to your case. A calculation of damages to seek from the insurance company will follow and can include:

  • Past medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

If the death of a loved one occurred, damages for wrongful death may also be part of your claim.

Send Demand Letter

Once calculations are complete, your personal injury lawyer will then forward a demand letter to the insurance adjuster to begin settlement negotiations. This demand letter will include the following:

  • Auto accident details
  • How the other driver is at fault
  • The seriousness of injuries, medical care and treatments, future care requirements, and any final diagnosis or prognosis of your condition.
  • An itemized list of compensation relevant under your type of claim
  • An acceptable settlement amount

Expect to Negotiate

The insurance company will respond after receiving the demand letter and once they conduct their own investigation into the accident. You can expect the insurance adjuster to deny your claim or dispute various parts of it to reduce a settlement amount. Negotiations will then begin and may require you to collect more evidence on your behalf. These negotiations can continue for weeks, if not months, with offers and counteroffers going back and forth before reaching a final settlement with the insurance company.

Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Laws

Michigan laws surrounding no-fault insurance will play a key role when filing a car accident claim and seeking compensation.

Carrying a no-fault insurance policy is a legal requirement in Michigan. This insurance is meant to pay for medical expenses, wage loss benefits, property damage, and replacement services if you are in an accident, regardless of whether or not you are the at-fault driver.

To file a claim, however, you must determine which insurance company will pay your benefits. Michigan law specifies the order of priority as follows: (1) your personal auto insurance, (2) the auto insurance of a resident relative, and (3) a state-assigned insurance company if neither of the other two exists.

If you are less than 50% responsible for the car crash and meet an established threshold, you can make a claim for other damages (pain, suffering, aggravation, and inconvenience) with the insurance company of the at-fault party. If this happens, you will need an experienced car accident attorney to help you file your claim and possibly even a personal injury lawsuit to obtain full compensation. Under such a lawsuit, the settlement you receive will not be taxable if you meet all the IRS code requirements.

Common Reasons Why a Car Accident Settlement Is Taking a Long Time

The Michigan car accident settlement process is complex and involves multiple steps, which can extend the time it takes to finalize. Each case is different, and much will depend on how efficiently each step is conducted. Here are the common reasons why a car accident settlement may take a long time.

Gathering Evidence

Gathering evidence is the most important part of proving your car, motorcycle, or truck accident claim and may take considerable time. An attorney can help with this by identifying what is needed to assert your claim confidently. Such evidence may include:

  • Police and other first-responder reports
  • Photos and videos of the accident scene, including damage to the vehicles involved, positioning of cars after the collision, and any traffic controls (signs, lights, markings) in the area
  • Witness statements
  • Medical records
  • Bills resulting from injury care and medical treatment
  • Your doctor’s prognosis of your recovery
  • Estimation of lost wages and future compensation as a result of accident injuries
  • Vehicle repair costs or estimates

The insurance company will also want to investigate and compile documentation surrounding the accident and your injuries, and this will take additional time.

Calculating Damages

It takes time to adequately calculate damages in your car accident case before presenting findings to the other side. Your personal injury attorney will start by gathering evidence as mentioned above, then calculate what damages to seek from the insurance companies. These damages often include both economic and non-economic damages.

  • Economic Damages: These damages include medical bills, future anticipated medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, lost future earning capacity, and property damage and repairs.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These damages take additional time to calculate as they do not rely on receipts or records. Non-economic damages include mental anguish, pain and suffering, disfigurement, scarring, diminished quality of life, and loss of consortium.

Calculating damages is often delayed due to the wait for an attending physician to determine that the injured patient has reached what is referred to as maximum medical improvement, or MMI. This determination means that the physician can now determine and estimate the extent of injuries suffered and that additional medical care and treatment will not improve those injuries.

The Defense is Delaying

The defense, or other party, may delay a personal injury claim settlement as part of their legal strategy. Delaying is a tactic used often with the hopes that the claimant will grow tired and impatient and give up on pursuing a higher settlement. The insurance company also waits to see if additional evidence in their favor becomes available. Specific tactics to delay a settlement may include requiring extensive discovery, filing motions, or extending deadlines. Seek legal advice and a free case evaluation if this happens to you.

Why Do Insurance Companies Take So Long to Pay Out?

Insurance companies do not like parting with their money, meaning they will employ tactics to spend less and delay a payout. Here are three of the most common ones they use.

Low Settlement Offer

An insurance company may offer you a low settlement shortly after the accident in hopes that you will accept it and not seek higher compensation. This tactic works because car accident victims are often unfamiliar with the settlement process and their rights to seek higher payouts. The problem with accepting a low settlement so quickly is that you may incur additional medical or other expenses, and with acceptance, you close the door to receiving more compensation.

Denying Your Claim

Insurance adjusters are looking for reasons to deny your claim so the insurance company does not have to pay anything. They are counting on you to give up once you see the denial or file an appeal which will take even more time to resolve.

Fishing for Information to Deny or Pay Less

Another tactic insurance companies like to use is fishing for information to deny or pay less in a settlement. In other words, they are looking for something that can discredit your claim in some way, such as pre-existing conditions.

What Types of Car Accident Injuries Might Cause a Delay in a Settlement?

One of the factors that can affect how long a settlement takes is the extent of your injuries. Car accident injuries that can cause a delay in a settlement include TBIs, spinal cord damage, and broken bones.

TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)

Traumatic brain injuries take considerable time to treat and heal. They often have long-term complications and consequences that can also become permanent, including:

  • Cognitive impairment, affecting memory, concentration, perception, and more
  • Physical impairment, affecting balance, coordination, strength, and fine motor skills
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Psychological issues, which often include depression and difficulty accepting and adjusting to an impairment
  • Personality and emotional changes
  • Severe conditions, including locked-in syndrome, coma, and even brain death

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can be mild or devasting and include fractured vertebrae, slipped or herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. Treatments and recovery take time. An accident victim can become paralyzed from these types of injuries.

Broken Bones

Another serious injury that may delay your settlement is broken bones. There are variations in this type of injury, and healing time and complications depend on the fracture type. If you suffer a non-displaced fracture, where the ends of the bone remain aligned, your doctor will only need to immobilize the area and let it heal. A displaced fracture with the bone out of alignment will require aligning the bones again, possibly with surgery, and then immobilizing the area.

The Difference in a Direct Settlement vs. Court Settlement

To resolve your claim, direct settlement without going before the court is the preferred way to go and will be sought first by your car accident lawyer. Most personal injury case settlements are not taken to court as this makes the settlement process take even longer. Also, insurance adjusters prefer avoiding the courts because they know they are more likely to be seen unfavorably and, as a result, have to pay more. Yet, if the insurance company treats you unfairly by continuing to delay or failing to respond favorably to your demand for settlement, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit.

Why You Should Hire an Attorney If You Are Waiting for a Settlement

Having an attorney can expedite the settlement process, as your attorney will negotiate on your behalf and follow up with the insurance company often.

An attorney will be familiar with laws surrounding car accidents and insurance settlements and will know the steps necessary to obtain the maximum compensation available to you. In addition, an experienced attorney will know how to counter delay tactics from the insurance company in your favor.

You will be less likely to miss an important timeframe or deadline, such as the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit as well.

How Much Longer Will You Wait?

The aftermath of any motor vehicle accident can be overwhelming, and your recovery is the first priority, followed by filing an insurance claim for compensation. Yet, waiting an unnecessarily long amount of time for a fair settlement can be stressful. Hiring an experienced Michigan personal injury attorney can help speed up that settlement process.

At Matz Injury Law, we represent clients throughout Michigan. We will work with insurance companies on your behalf to accelerate your settlement check and even represent you in court should it need to go that far. We work diligently for your compensation. Call our trusted law firm today at 1-866-22Not33 or use the online contact form to schedule your free consultation.

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 33 1/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 33 1/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients. 

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients.  We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims.  Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

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