How Long Does it Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?
If you were recently injured in a car crash in Utah and need help making an accident claim, we invite you to contact our Salt Lake City car accident lawyers for a free legal consultation. In the meantime, this article will help you understand how Utah accident claims work, and how long the claims process typically takes to resolve.
Do I Have a Claim if I Was Injured in a Car Accident in Utah?
Among the 54,036 Utah auto accidents reported in 2014, over 23,360 of them – about 43% – resulted in injuries. If you were recently in a car accident in Utah, you’re likely to be facing expensive medical bills. The average cost of an injury crash is high. However, you may be able to get compensated by filing a third-party insurance claim against the driver who caused the collision.
When it comes to auto insurance, there are two types of states: fault states, and no-fault states. Utah is one of a dozen no-fault states. In no-fault states, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident. Regardless of fault, both drivers initially make a first-party claim with their own insurance company.
One of Utah’s minimum auto insurance requirements is to carry at least $3,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, which are there to help pay for your medical costs after a crash. Until you have exhausted your PIP coverage, you will not be able to make a claim against the other driver, nor will you be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. There is only one scenario in which you can make a claim or file a lawsuit with expenses less than $3,000, which is if you lost a limb or became permanently disabled, permanently impaired, or permanently disfigured (including scars) due to the accident.
Assuming the other driver is in compliance with Utah’s car insurance coverage requirements, his or her policy should cover at least $25,000 per person for injuries, at least $65,000 per accident for injuries (if multiple people are injured), and at least $15,000 per accident for property damage. Unfortunately, while most Utah drivers are covered, the Insurance Information Institute still estimates roughly 6% of Utah drivers were uninsured as of 2012. Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is an optional type of insurance coverage designed for exactly this situation – but if you don’t have UM coverage, you may have to file a lawsuit, provided your costs were above $3,000 (or you sustained the permanent injuries we mentioned earlier).
What is the Average Time for Insurance Settlement Negotiations?
The answer to this question will be different for every accident victim. Some claims are resolved very smoothly, while others are somewhat contentious. Ultimately, the amount of time it will take to resolve your claim depends on factors like:
- How severely you were injured. If you suffered minor injuries and have low medical costs, the insurance company may be willing to settle quickly. On the other hand, if you have large medical bills resulting from severe injuries, the insurer is more likely to dispute your claim and challenge your medical evidence, delaying resolution.
- The nature of the accident. In some accidents, fault is fairly obvious. For example, when a driver is rear-ended while waiting for a red light to change green, the striking driver is clearly at fault. But in other cases – particularly those involving three or more vehicles – determining fault requires an in-depth investigation. Investigative measures like conducting interviews, tracking down witnesses, and waiting for lab results all add time to the process.
- The nature of your injuries. Some injuries are difficult to dispute successfully. For instance, it’s hard to deny a broken bone when the claimant has X-ray images clearly showing a fracture that didn’t exist before the crash. But other injuries, such as soft tissue injuries like whiplash after a car accident, don’t always leave clear evidence behind.
- How many claims the company is currently processing. Insurance companies are bombarded with claims around the holidays, when millions of Americans drive long distances through icy, snowy weather. The more claims the insurer is dealing with, the longer the process can take.
While every claim follows a different timeline due to these and other factors, you can generally expect the process to take a few months or more. We know you want to settle as quickly as possible, but try to resist the temptation to accept the initial offer. These early offers are nearly always too low, and by continuing the negotiation process, you may be able to get a much higher amount.
Contact A Utah Personal Injury Attorney
Automobile accident lawyer Darwin Overson has over 33 years of legal experience helping injured Utah residents get the maximum compensation for serious car accident injuries, including broken bones, spinal cord injuries (SCI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), soft tissue injuries, lacerations, nerve damage, burns, and scarring. Darwin is a tough negotiator, and is more than prepared to take your case to court if the insurance company refuses to make you an adequate settlement offer. Darwin will not back down from protecting your rights as an accident victim.
To set up a free legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143. Darwin handles car accident claims throughout the state of Utah and is more than happy to come to your location if you are not able to travel.