A car accident can be an overwhelming experience, especially when dealing with injuries, mounting bills to pay, and time off of work. Additionally, you may have to wait an extended period of time to receive compensation for your damages.
It is important to understand how the legal process works first to get an idea of when your claim will be completed. Pennsylvania has no-fault insurance, which means that regardless of who is at fault for a car accident, you would likely go to your own insurance company for coverage. There are a few exceptions, however, such as the type of insurance you have or whether a serious injury or a death occurred in the accident.
If you believe the insurance company is not compensating your losses correctly, or your injuries are serious enough, you may consider going to court. However, reaching a settlement with the insurance company takes less time than going through with a lawsuit. It is important to not rush the process. Speaking with a lawyer first is your best bet.
Reaching a settlement with an insurance company generally will take about three to six months, from the initial claim to the point of receiving your check. A trial will take exceptionally longer, possibly up to 18 months, depending on the following:
- Case complexity: Car accidents can get complex quickly, especially if there are multiple parties and expert witnesses. The more complex a case gets, the longer it will likely take to complete.
- Administrative issues: Car accidents generally involve a lot of red tape and paperwork with both insurance companies and the courts, so when a form is filled out incorrectly, expect some delays.
- Lack of cooperation: Insurance companies can be uncooperative or fail to communicate efficiently, which can lead to a delay in compensation.
- Severity of injuries: When an injury is severe, the healing process could take quite a bit of time, which can cause difficulty in determining how much the injury will impact the person’s future, which is vital information. This can cause a long delay in the claim process.
What Are the Steps of a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Although each case is different from another, they all normally follow the same path:
- Initial filing: The process begins when the plaintiff files a formal complaint with the court, which could take up to a couple of weeks to prepare depending on the complexity of the case.
- Serving the defendant: Serving the defendant a copy of the complaint takes a couple weeks to complete, but length may also depend on if the defendant avoids being served the complaint.
- Response: The defendant must then file a response with the court, which is normally done within a month of being served.
- Discovery: The discovery phase now begin, where both the plaintiff and defendant gather and exchange documents, photographs, and other evidence that will be used in the trial. This phase is normally the longest, lasting between six to 12 months.
- Trial: The trial begins within a few weeks after the discovery phase is over, lasting for about a few days.
- Appeal: One party may disagree with the outcome, which will lead to an appeal. Appeals can delay the conclusion for years.
It is important to note that an accident lawsuit can be settled at almost any time after the initial claim is made. Furthermore, settlements are normally done during or after the discovery phase and are preferred by most.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Car Accident Survivors
Only an experienced legal team can make the legal process go smoother and quicker following a car accident. If you have been injured in an accident, speak with one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us at 215-569-8488 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Abington, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.