Car accidents can damage a victim’s property, leave them injured and shaken, and can even lead to death in severe cases. Like other personal injury victims, a car accident victim may also be entitled to compensation for damages with a car accident claim.
There are two ways that car accident victims in Chicago can claim for compensation: through settlement or a trial in a court. One of the most common questions that people ask CCAL is how long will it take to settle a claim.
There is no easy answer to this question as it depends on a lot of factors. At Chicago Car Accident Lawyers, if you have been a victim of a car accident, we can help guide you through the legal recovery process after your crash.
But first, let us take a look at a few laws in Illinois:
Illinois Car Insurance Laws
The Illinois car insurance law mandates all car drivers to carry at least a minimum amount of liability car accident insurance. Specifically, Illinois drivers must carry a bodily injury limit of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 total per accident. Additionally, drivers must also have coverage of at least $20,000 for property damage.
However, this minimum coverage is often not enough to cover the expenses that occur due to an accident. They may not be able to compensate a victim for severe injuries that lead to comprehensive surgeries and certainly cannot accommodate them for lost income, lost companionship, or other expenses.
Fortunately, you do not need to accept these woefully inadequate compensations.
Statute of Limitation for Illinois Car Accident Claim
The statute of limitations for Illinois personal injury cases, including car accidents, states that a victim has up to two years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If the two years expire, then it will be a complete bar to recovery of compensation and you will not be able to request justice for the harms dealt you.
Chicago Car Accident Lawyers can make sure you file your claim on time and never run the risk of missing a date.
Factors That Can Delay Your Case
Court cases are complicated and unpredictable and waiting for your compensation can be a long and grueling process. Even though most insurance companies in the United States are required to make a reasonable offer of settlement in 60 days, this in no way means the case will be settled in two months' time.
There are several factors that can stretch your case:
In a car accident in Illinois, one party is usually to blame for causing the crash. This is referred to as liability and the at-fault person is liable for the injuries and damages incurred during the accident.
Some cases are very clear-cut as they clearly show who is at fault and who is the victim. In other cases, however, liability cannot be determined as easily. This is known as “disputing liability” and this will require additional investigation, including contacting the police, using a private investigator, consulting experts, and interviewing witnesses, to find out evidence, which can find out which person was in the wrong.
Disputed or contested liabilities cases are often long-winded and have a higher likelihood of ending in the courtroom.
Illinois courts also use “modified comparative negligence tort principles” to determine liability and how much compensation should be awarded in the case. The comparative negligence rule applies when both parties are partially at fault for the car accident.
As long as you have less than 50% fault in the accident, you may be entitled to compensation, although the amount will be reduced based on the percentage of your contribution to the accident. If, however, the law deems both the party have a 50/50 share in the accident, you will not be entitled to any compensation and the case may be dismissed.
In Chicago, car accident laws have gone reforms. An experienced attorney from Chicago Car Accident Lawyers will be able to help you understand the laws related to car crashes and proceed with your case accordingly.
The Settlement Negotiation Timeline
Most car accidents are settled out of court rather than make their way all the way to the trial. Settlements can provide compensation either in a lump sum or structured settlements, which spread the payout of the settlement amount over several months or years.
If the client is being reasonable, the length of time the settlement process takes can range anywhere between two to six weeks. Typically, the average is four weeks and during this time, all the documents will be signed, you will get a check from the defendant, and both parties will need to determine how they wish to proceed with the settlement.
However, depending on the complexity of your case, some negotiations can take a lot longer.
The Willingness of the Insurance Companies
The time it will take to settle your car accident case in Illinois also depends on the willingness of your insurance companies.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money and they do their utmost to not pay out a claim. Most insurance companies will look for ways to deny or delay your payout by undermining your claims.
Different insurance companies can settle cases in different ways. If an insurance company believes you have a weak case or you are exaggerating your injuries, they will attempt to settle your case for far less amount than your damages are worth. Other companies prefer to spend a long time investigating claims before making you an offer. Still, others would prefer litigation.
Although it may seem tempting at a time when you are in need of money, you should never settle for an amount that is too low as they will be inadequate to cover your losses. Once you sign the settlement agreement, you cannot go back and ask for more compensation so don’t let an insurance company pressure you to give up your rights.
You also need to have a conclusive medical diagnosis before you even think about settling.
Severity of the Injuries
After a car accident, some people may only have minor injuries and they can make quick recoveries. However, in a large number of cases, injuries can be catastrophic and incapacitating resulting in comprehensive surgeries, long hospital stays, and extended rehabilitation processes. Some may even result in death.
The severity and complexity of the accident can increase the amount of time required to settle. As you can guess, serious injuries require more money and your attorney will not start the settlement negotiation process until they have full knowledge of the extent of your injuries and medical treatment required to fix them.
A lot of times, victims will want to settle their cases while they are still in recovery. This is usually not a great idea since once the settlement is paid, the case is closed and if you require additional treatments in the future, you will not be able to claim compensation for it.
That’s why it is so important to work with an experienced car accident attorney right from the beginning of your case.
The Timeline for Court Action in Chicago
If the defendant and insurance companies are being unreasonable and you cannot come to a settlement agreement with them, your case will be settled through court action.
Once you have filed your lawsuit, the defendant will be notified and will be provided the appropriate time to respond. Once the defendant responds, the preliminary hearings will be scheduled and a trial date will be set. Each side will be given time to gather evidence to support their case and your attorney or the defense attorney will make motions that a court must rule on.
This entire process can take a long time to happen, particularly if the court has many other hearings and trials and cannot set up your appointment for months. Some cases can take several months to several years to resolve. The important thing to do in these cases is to respond quickly to court actions, show up on time, and follow the deadlines. This way delays are kept to the minimum.
Schedule a Consultation with Chicago Car Accident Lawyers
Understandably, waiting for your rightful compensation can be very difficult. However, just because you want things to be resolved quickly doesn’t mean you should short sell yourself and give up your right for the compensation due.
If you have suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, contact our experienced Chicago auto accident lawyers. We will offer you a free consultation visit, either at home or at the hospital, where we can discuss your case and options.
We understand that the impact of a car accident goes beyond just physical injuries. We also know that no two cases are equal. On your behalf, our skilled lawyers will obtain the necessary documentation to build a strong case for you, negotiate with all the relevant parties, and apprise you of all the major decisions that need to be made for the verdict to come out in your favor.
We are not afraid to fight for justice for you. Our legal team can easily be reached by phone or online. Contact us to book an appointment today.