A significant delay in treatment after your auto accident in Alabama will likely effect the settlement value of your bodily injury claim. Prior to representing injured individuals, I first worked as an insurance defense attorney. One of the key things I looked for were significant delays in treatment following an accident. Additionally, I would keep an eye out for gaps in treatment following the accident.
When evaluating a case from the insurance side of the case, they tend to look purely at dollars and cents and often forget the human element of these cases. A significant delay in treatment to them indicates either the injury wasn't serious or that it was related. They often discount the realities of life and that there may have been outside reasons for why the treatment was delayed.
However, if at all possible you should treat with a physician immediately, or as soon as possible, after a collision where you are experiencing pain. Anything beyond two weeks can be considered a red flag for the insurance company. If it is over a month, they will almost certainly be throwing a red flag and reducing the amount they are willing to offer on the case. That delay will become a center point of the negotiations. Additionally, be mindful of gaps in treatment. The same timeframes apply, if it has been over two weeks without treatment the insurance companies, rightly or wrongly, will view that as showing the injury is no longer hurting you or that it is not significant enough for you to seek further treatment.
Can pain from a car accident be delayed?
Yes, pain following a car accident is often delayed due to things like adrenaline after a wreck and other factors. It is frequently the case that individuals will report no injuries at the scene and later realize they are injured. Many times, my clients report that they begin hurting on the drive back to their house or about the time they get ready for bed that night.
If that is the case, don't continue to wait thinking "maybe it will get better." Go ahead and go see a physician to get check out. Too often I see clients wait weeks thinking the soreness or other symptoms will subside, and they end up hurting their recovery because they were injured and did need treatment but the delay has impacted the case.
How long does it take to settle a car accident claim in Alabama?
How long does it take to settle a car accident claim in Alabama, well the answer is, it depends. I know, not the answer you were hoping for. However, let me give some examples and a rough timeline to help give a bit more clarity to a very vague answer. The Alabama statute of limitations is two years for injury cases, that is the amount of time from the date of the accident you have to file a lawsuit in the Courts. That means many cases can take up to two years to settle, and some settle after a lawsuit is filed in the case. So it can take even longer than two years depending on the case.
Now, property damage claims are typically settled fairly quickly. These may only take a few months to be fully resolved. However, a bodily injury claim will almost certainly take significantly longer. You can resolve the property and bodily injury separately.
So why so long on a bodily injury claim? Well one of the most significant delays is ensuring that you receive the proper medical care and reach something called "maximum medical improvement" (MMI). This just means that you are as good as you are going to get following the accident. Either you are back to normal, or you have reached what is now your new normal. Then all of your medical records for that treatment have to be collected, along with your bills and then submitted to the insurance company for review. This must all occur before negotiations can really begin. As a result, if it takes you a year of treatment to fully recover then negotiations are not likely to begin until after a little over a year from the accident date.
Most auto accidents will resolve within 6 months to 4 years after the date of the incident. this is either by settlement or by a trial.