How Long Does a Pedestrian Accident Settlement Take?
Pedestrians who are injured by careless operators of vehicles have the right to pursue compensation. In most cases, that compensation is paid by the operator’s insurance company. In some cases, compensation might be paid or supplemented by other sources, including the pedestrian’s own car insurance. The first step in making a claim is to seek immediate treatment for the accident injuries. The second step is to get advice from a pedestrian accident lawyer. The claims adjuster employed by the driver’s insurance company may want to take a statement. The injured pedestrian may have a duty to notify his or her own insurer. A personal injury attorney can help the accident victim decide how to deal with any insurance companies that might be involved in paying the claim.
Eventually, the pedestrian’s lawyer will be in a position to settle the claim. How long will that take? So many factors affect settlement that a specific settlement date is impossible to predict. Some cases settle quickly, while others settle just before trial. Some cases cannot settle and compensation must be decided by a jury.
No Pedestrian Accident Claim Should Be Settled Prematurely
No case should be settled until the full extent of an accident victim’s injuries can be established. Wage loss cannot be computed until a doctor says that the victim can return to work without limitations. Medical bills cannot be added up until the victim no longer needs treatment. The victim will need greater compensation if a doctor says he or she will never be able to do the same kind of work or will need continuing medical care. It takes some time before a doctor can make that call. Once agreed upon, all settlements are final. An injury victim cannot settle a case and then ask for more money after realizing that the injury was more serious than the victim expected it to be. For that reason, no case should settle until a doctor decides that the injury has fully healed or has likely healed as much as it ever will.
Obtaining Recommended Treatment Speeds
Injuries heal at different rates so it is impossible to know how long it will take for an injury to heal or to stop healing. Pedestrian accident victims can help themselves, however, by obtaining immediate treatment and by following their doctor’s advice. Delaying treatment also delays healing. Insurance adjusters delay settling claims for their full value when accident victims do not follow through on recommended medical care. Accident victims might be tempted to skip a doctor’s appointment or to stop attending physical therapy, but a claims adjuster will argue that the victim stopped treating because he or she was fully healed. It takes much longer to settle claims when insurance adjusters can point to gaps in medical records as evidence that the victim was no longer suffering.
Negotiation Tactics May Affect the Time for Settling a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Insurance claims adjusters are not an injury victim’s friend. Their job is to minimize the compensation paid for by injury claims or, if they can get away with it, to avoid paying the claims at all. Some adjusters delay settlement negotiations by making one lowball offer after another. They hope that prolonging the negotiations will cause cash-starved accident victims to accept inadequate compensation.
Representation by a respected pedestrian accident lawyer is the best safeguard against unfair claims adjusters. When adjusters know that the victim’s attorney has a track record of success, the adjuster is more likely to make a prompt and fair offer. An experienced lawyer also knows when it is time to file a lawsuit and to negotiate with the insurance company’s lawyers, rather than the adjuster. When no fair settlement can be reached, compensation must be decided by a jury. The injured pedestrian’s lawyer will act diligently to protect the interests of the injury victim, but the time it will take to receive compensation can never be predicted.