Looking into the West Virginia settlement process and wondering how long it might take to receive a settlement offer from an insurance company or other party? You’re not alone. No two cases are the same, but there is a general timeline of events one can expect during settlement proceedings. For a more accurate representation of how long a case may take, speak with a car accident lawyer in Charleston, WV.
First Few Weeks
In the weeks after a car accident, you’ll speak with car insurance companies, doctors, and perhaps personal injury lawyers. First and foremost, focus on your health. Go to a hospital as soon as possible after a car crash. Delaying treatment can harm your chances of receiving compensation for any injuries. Even if you don’t feel injured, you may have an injury with delayed symptoms. Once you’re able, report the incident to your auto insurance company. You can also submit a claim through the other driver’s company.
An insurance claims adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company may be in touch with you as soon as the day of the accident. The adjuster’s job is to investigate the claim and negotiate a settlement offer, if applicable. The claims adjuster will try to get you to settle for as small an amount as possible. Keep in mind that a personal injury case will often result in higher award amounts than a settlement with an insurance adjuster. Consider your options carefully before giving a statement or accepting a fast settlement offer from an insurer. A West Virginia car accident attorney can help you negotiate with insurance companies during this process.
If you do not wish to accept a settlement offer, the next step is to file a personal injury claim with the West Virginia civil courts. You have two years from the date of the accident to file this type of claim. An accident victim who does not notice her injuries until days or weeks after the incident has two years from the date of the discovery. In car accident cases involving wrongful death, the claimant has two years from the date of the individual’s death to file a claim.
Zero to Six Months
If you decide to settle, your case can begin and end within a few weeks. Filing a personal injury claim, on the other hand, will entail a longer judicial process. Each side will file documents relating to the accident. The claimant will file an initial complaint, and the defendant will file a counterclaim or a motion for the courts to dismiss the case. Both parties will then enter the discovery phase. This includes interrogations, depositions, and requests for more information. During these processes, settlement negotiations will typically continue.
Your lawyer may recommend an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, such as mediation, prior to taking your case to trial. Settling your case via ADR is faster and less expensive than a trial, but may not lead to a desirable settlement agreement. If you do wind up in civil trial, the process can take months or longer than a year depending on the circumstances. Both sides will need to gather evidence, such as eyewitness interviews, police reports, medical records, and witness testimony.
Six Months and Beyond
After the courts determine a positive verdict in your favor, your attorney will wait to receive your settlement check in the mail. If the opposing side decides to appeal the trial verdict, you should be prepared for a process that takes an average of two additional years before receiving your check. The timeline for a car accident settlement in West Virginia can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the case. Ask an attorney for a timeline estimate for a more accurate portrayal of what to expect in your car accident claim.