How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Case in California?

how long should a personal injury case take to settle

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence in California, one of the biggest questions on your mind is likely, “How long until I get compensated?” Unfortunately, there’s no simple one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to settling personal injury claims.

The timeline can vary significantly depending on factors like the severity of your injuries, proving fault, whether your claim goes to court, and the insurance company’s settlement tactics. Here’s what to know.

California 2-Year Deadline to Settle or Sue for Personal Injury Cases

Under California statutes, accident victims have two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit for their personal injury claim with negligent parties and their insurers. This rule is known as the statute of limitations.

If an injured person does not file a lawsuit or reach a settlement within 24 months post-accident, they typically lose their right to recover compensation under California law.

This is why it’s so important to immediately speak with an attorney after an injury to jump-start the claims process. We can send a demand letter to the negligent party’s insurance company to get talks started and negotiate a settlement before time runs out.

Stages of a California Personal Injury Claim

While each case follows a unique timeline, most proceed through similar stages:

  • Initial Investigation and Filing: Meet with attorney → Conduct thorough investigation → Send demand letter to insurer → Estimate settlement range.
  • Settlement Talks: Insurer makes initial offer → Attorney negotiates → Counteroffers exchanged → Settlement negotiations continue.
  • Lawsuit: If no reasonable settlement offer arises after months of talks, → File a lawsuit before the 3-year deadline.
  • Settlement or Trial: Most cases settle out of court after filing a lawsuit → Trial when negotiations fail.

Skilled personal injury lawyers aim to settle cases out of court when insurance covers offer fair settlements. This resolution saves time versus a lengthy trial. However, reputable attorneys will quickly take cases to trial when needed to secure maximum compensation.

Factors Impacting The Length of California Injury Cases

While every personal injury case comes with its timeline, certain factors cause some claims to settle relatively quickly and others to take closer to one or more years to resolve:

  • Injuries (Severity, Duration, etc.) – Major or permanent injuries often equal a lengthier legal process overall.
  • Clear Liability and Negligence – Obvious reckless behavior speeds resolution. Contested fault causes settlement delays.
  • Insurer’s Initial Settlement Offer – A lowball first offer typically starts contentious talks
  • Insurer’s Willingness to Negotiate – Unreasonable insurers who won’t budge on settling will prolong case resolution.

If liability is clear and the insurance company makes a fair offer upfront, some cases could potentially wrap up in under 12 months. However, when the other side contests fault, you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries, or the insurer stonewalls reasonable demands, don’t be surprised if your case stretches closer to 24 months or longer to finalize.

What if the Insurance Company Is Deliberately Stalling?

Some insurance carriers deliberately draw out cases, refusing to negotiate in good faith while hoping injured victims will grow desperate and accept lowball settlement offers out of necessity.

When we encounter these bad faith tactics, our personal injury attorneys don’t hesitate to file a lawsuit as the statute of limitations window closes in. This lights a fire under insurance companies, forcing them back to the negotiation table or risking an even higher judgment from a trial.

How Long After Settling Will I Receive My Money?

Once all parties execute a final settlement agreement, you can typically expect to receive your payment within the next 3-6 weeks. Insurance companies are usually required to cut a settlement check within 30 days, though there can be some case-by-case variance.

Your attorney will carefully walk you through the release form you’ll need to sign in order to receive the compensation. We ensure our clients receive every last penny they’re owed for their injuries, losses, and pain & suffering.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney to Keep Your Injury Claim on Track

Personal injury claims can be a long and complicated process, filled with potential pitfalls that could derail or devalue your case. Insurance companies are not on your side – they have teams of adjusters trained to minimize payouts at every opportunity.

That’s why, from the very start, your best move is to engage a skilled personal injury attorney to represent you. An experienced lawyer will ensure your claim is properly filed, all evidence is accounted for, and that you don’t miss any critical deadlines or steps along the way.

At DP Injury Attorneys, our team has helped clients recover millions in settlements for all types of injury cases – from auto accidents and slip-and-falls to medical malpractice and more. The sooner you contact our firm, the sooner we can start building a robust claim designed for a timely, favorable outcome.

Author Bio

Arthur Paul D’Egidio is the Managing Partner of DP Injury Attorneys, a San Diego personal injury law firm. With more than 12 years of experience in California injury law, he has dedicated his practice to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury matters, including car accidents, workers’ compensation, slip and falls, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death cases.

Arthur received his Juris Doctor from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California as well as the San Diego County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Super Lawyer for seven straight years by Thomson Reuters and a “Top 40 Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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