If you’re hurt in a South Dakota car accident caused by someone else, you might wonder how long it will take to settle your claim and receive fair compensation. Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict the settlement time frame accurately. You might settle your case out of court in a few months, but some cases can drag on for years. There are several factors that affect the time frame for recovery.
The Insurance Claims Process
Most South Dakota car accident cases are settled through this process. The injured party (plaintiff) files a claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver (defendant) for medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. Before demanding reasonable compensation for your medical expenses, however, you have to wait until you’re completely recovered or have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Only then can you estimate what your present and future medical expenses might be. All your medical bills, records, doctor’s reports, and a prognosis for your future medical needs must be gathered and organized. This could take weeks or months.
Once all of your records are obtained, and your lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering have been factored in, you can send the defendant’s insurer a demand package asking for reasonable compensation. Most insurers respond in 15 to 90 days, usually with a lower counter-offer. At that point, negotiations begin and could take some time. If the company does not offer a fair award, you may file a lawsuit against the defendant in civil court. While neither party really wants to go to trial, simply filing a lawsuit gives you leverage. Once the insurer knows you have an attorney who’s willing to go to court, it’s likely to increase its offer to avoid the time and expense of a trial. This usually happens at one of three points in the process:
- Immediately after the lawsuit is filed
- At the pre-trial conference after discovery
- At the last minute before the trial begins
If you don’t get a fair offer right after filing your lawsuit, then the case might go on for months or years. If the case is resolved in your favor, you could get a settlement check within a month or so, but there are no guarantees.
Have You Been Injured in a South Dakota Car Crash?
Having an experienced car accident lawyer on your side is the best way to expedite the settlement process. Your attorney can stay on top of all procedural requirements, communicate persistently with the defendant, and keep your case on the “front burner.” Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.