If you suffered injuries in a Las Vegas automobile accident, and the insurance company has yet to pay for your losses, financial pressures are probably building. With a loss of income and your medical bills due, you are most likely wondering, “Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?”
The time it takes to resolve your car accident case depends on how long it takes you to reach maximum medical improvement, the availability and nature of the evidence, the insurance company’s willingness to pay your claim, and a few other factors.
Why Is Your Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?
While some car accident claims settle rather quickly, that isn’t always the case. Some cases just naturally take longer to settle because they involve extensive amounts of medical records that must be reviewed, it is unclear who is liable in a car accident, or there are multiple defendants. In many cases, however, insurance companies in Nevada go to great lengths to minimize payouts, delay claims processing, and even deny valid claims.
If your car accident settlement seems to be taking longer than you think it should be sure to speak with your Las Vegas car accident lawyer about your concerns right away. Your attorney will be able to evaluate your case to determine what might be holding things up.
You Have the Burden of Proving it Was the Defendant’s Fault
Personal injury cases have a completely different burden of proof than other matters, such as criminal cases. While it is an easier standard, it’s by no means easy. The burden of proof in a personal injury case is known as a preponderance of the evidence. That is, you must persuade the jury that it is more likely than not (or at least 51 percent) that you have met the elements of the case.
With personal injury matters such as car accident claims, you, as the injured party (the plaintiff), have the burden of proof to establish that the defendant caused your accident. Additionally, you must demonstrate the severity of the injuries you sustained. While this makes it possible for lawyers, insurance providers, and the courts to decide how much money you are due in compensation, it also allows the insurance company to argue that you don’t have enough evidence to meet that burden.
Lack of Medical Evidence May Be Holding Up Your Car Accident Claim
The foundation of a successful car accident settlement is medical evidence. You must possess specific evidence to prove that you have met your burden of proof. It is not enough to simply claim that your back or hip hurts and then receive a settlement. Medical evidence must demonstrate your physical injuries and the extent of your pain and suffering or mental anguish resulting from them.
Types of Medical Evidence
The particulars of the case will determine the most valuable categories of medical evidence. However, the following types of evidence are frequently utilized by victims of auto accidents:
- Official medical charts from any hospitalization, including diagnostic imaging (CAT scans, PET scans, X-rays, MRIs, etc.)
- Emergency room treatment notes
- Laboratory test results
- Formal reports of diagnosis
- List of office visits and therapy appointments attended or scheduled
- Your physician’s written opinions regarding future prognoses
Other important pieces of medical evidence are your prescription records, reports taken by emergency medical personnel at the scene of the accident, and notes from any physical or occupational therapists that have attended to you.
This can be quite daunting. You must ensure you’re seeing doctors and therapists who know how to document injuries for a case like yours, and you must collect all this information. An experienced Las Vegas motor vehicle accident lawyer will direct you to the right physicians and therapists, and his or her office will take the gathering of your medical evidence off your hands.
There may also be instances where insurance companies or their attorneys will request unnecessary medical records. They do this to pry for additional evidence against you or to create additional delays. Your lawyer will make sure no medical records are sent which are unreasonable or unrelated to the injuries sustained in the accident.
You Have Not Reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
MMI is a benchmark in the recovery process of an injured victim. It means you have likely recovered to the greatest extent possible from your car collision injuries. Understand that reaching your MMI does not mean you have fully recovered. It’s merely the point at which your doctor will be able to provide you with a final diagnosis as well as a prediction of future medical care you may require.
Broken arms or legs are an example of a car accident victim reaching MMI but never fully recovering. While the fractured bones may heal completely, a patient might experience ongoing limb weakness and develop arthritis, neither of which may ever go away.
Many car accident victims face financial hardship as a result of their injuries. Medical bills and related costs quickly add up, especially for car crash victims unable to work due to their injuries. You may not want to wait until you reach your MMI because of the financial stress, but there are several reasons you should. Your attorney will not have enough information before you reach your MMI to appraise the full value of your claim accurately. Usually, you are still receiving medical treatment, which means that new costs will continue to accrue, and further damages may develop.
To know how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement, your lawyer must calculate the cost of your future losses in addition to your current and ongoing expenses while you are receiving care. In such a scenario, you will need evidence from medical professionals who can describe your current level of disability, your chances of a full or partial recovery, and the likelihood that you will require more or ongoing medical treatment, or accumulate additional damages.
Is the Insurance Company Delaying Your Car Accident Settlement?
Delaying is one of many unethical tactics used by insurance providers, who have very different timetables than victims. They have your premiums collecting interest; they’re in no rush. Meanwhile, you’re unable to work, struggling to pay your medical bills, and relying on that settlement check to solve all your financial woes.
While some delays are necessary, such as the insurer’s lawyers taking time to examine and analyze your medical records, some providers’ delays are purely tactical. They know you may be desperate for the settlement money, and they create artificial delays to make you desperate enough to settle for less. In order to delay, insurance companies have been known to:
- Request unnecessary documentation
- Ignore your attempts to get in touch
- Claim that your case is still under investigation when it’s not
- Claim that the policy terms differ from the original agreement
- Deny a perfectly good claim in hopes that you’ll settle for less than the actual value
An experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney will be well aware of the strategies used by insurance firms to induce you to settle for less and will have tactics to counter them.
High-Value Car Accident Claims May Take Longer to Settle
Depending on the magnitude of your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and other costs you have endured, you may have what is regarded as a high-value claim. This frequently occurs in personal injury cases involving severe injuries and significant property damage. If your claim has an exceptionally high value, the insurance company will almost certainly put up more of a fight to reduce it. They tend to delay these cases as long as possible to avoid paying, which inevitably prolongs negotiations.
Some of the highest-value claims end up in court because it’s in the insurance company’s interest to refuse to pay you while watching your financial desperation increases. If you have a good case, and it’s a high-value claim, however, it’s sometimes worth going to court and forcing the insurer to pay the total amount.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Keep Your Car Accident Settlement from Taking So Long
Sometimes, victims wonder, “Is it worth getting a car accident lawyer?” Remember that insurance providers have high-priced lawyers on their side with tactics to reduce your settlement. An experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer will know the insurance company’s tactics and how to fight their delays.
To help avoid leaving you wondering, “Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?”, a car accident lawyer and his or her paralegals will work hard to promptly obtain all your medical records, bills, and expenses. They will write effective letters to the insurance company to maximize your claim’s value, and relentlessly follow up with the insurer to keep your case at the forefront of its priorities. Finally, once your case settles, an experienced car accident lawyer will be just as vigilant in getting the insurance company to cut and send your settlement check as soon as possible.