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How Long Does It Take for an Insurance Company to Pay Out a Car Accident Claim?

July 17, 2019

A typical car accident can cost thousands of dollars in medical expenses and vehicle damage repairs. Instead of paying out of pocket, most car accident victims can recover compensation through auto insurance claims. Colorado is a fault-based insurance state, meaning a victim can seek financial recovery from the at-fault driver’s insurance company after a car accident. The length of time from filing the claim to receiving a payout, however, will vary from accident to accident.

Most Cases: 30 Days

It can be stressful to live in limbo while an insurance company processes your claim. Your medical bills may be mounting, on top of costs such as a rental car and property damage repairs. Although procedures vary across companies, most car insurance providers place a 30-day deadline on resolving car accident claims. If you file a claim on January 1st, therefore, you should receive a check by January 31st. The 30-day maximum applies to both major and minor car accidents at most insurance companies.

Within those 30 days, you may either pay for your accident-related expenses out of pocket while you wait for reimbursement or work with an accident attorney to cover your upfront costs. Retaining a law firm to help you with your car accident case could offer benefits such as the firm fronting the costs of your medical care, helping gather evidence like a police report and medical record, and front other expenses until you can obtain an insurance settlement or jury verdict. Hiring a lawyer could save you from paying bills you cannot afford while you wait for an auto insurance claim payout to process.

Complicated Cases: Months

If your car accident insurance claim has factors that make it unusual, your wait could be longer than 30 days. Your claim might take a few months or longer to resolve. Complicated cases may involve catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, multiple at-fault parties, parties refuting liability, lack of evidence or requests for noneconomic damages such as physical pain and emotional suffering. Anything that makes your claim out of the ordinary could delay payout.

The most common reason a car insurance claim payout takes longer than 30 days is if the crash victim has not yet reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is a rating a physician will assign to a patient once he or she has recovered as much as he or she foreseeably will. If it takes longer than 30 days for you to reach the point of MMI for serious injuries, your car insurance claim could take longer to resolve. It is worthwhile to wait, however. Accepting a settlement before reaching MMI might not provide enough compensation for total damages.

State-Imposed Time Limits

Many states have laws that require insurance companies to respond to claims or reach settlements within a certain time. Colorado has no such statutes, yet this does not mean an insurance company can take an unreasonable amount of time to resolve your claim. If an insurance provider is delaying payout without a valid reason, you may have grounds to file an insurance bad faith claim. A bad faith claim could result not only in payment of your original settlement but also additional awards in interest and penalties.

If a car insurance settlement does not sufficiently cover your accident-related damages, it is up to you to file a personal injury lawsuit. Most lawsuits take three to four months to settle but can take a year or longer if they go to trial. You have three years from the date of your accident to file an injury lawsuit in the state of Colorado. Filing as soon as possible can speed up your claim and shorten the amount of time you must wait for a payout. Working with a Denver personal injury attorney could help you expedite the claims process. Contact us today to schedule a free consult with our top-rated team.