How Long Does It Take To Settle A Bicycle Accident Claim?
If you sustained serious injuries in a biking accident, you may be anxious to settle your bicycle accident claim sooner rather than later. After all, every day that you go without compensation is another day in which you must figure out how to pay for your medical care, afford your living expenses on a reduced or eliminated income, and navigate life with the uncertainty that comes with a serious injury. Though your situation may be dire, know that patience is key when it comes to personal injury claims.
Filing to Settlement: The Average Timeline for a Bicycle Accident Claim
Every personal injury case — whether it involves a bicycle and vehicle, vehicle and pedestrian, pedestrian and domestic animal, or shopper and corporation — presents unique factors. For this reason, there is no average timeline for a bicycle accident claim. Some claims settle quickly and in as little as three to four weeks. Others, however, take years to settle. If you file a lawsuit, you may not reach a settlement until two to three years after the date that you file — which is likely a year or more after the date of the accident itself.
Hearing this information, you may be motivated to do whatever you can to speed up the claims process. It is unwise to do this, as personal injury claims take only as long as their circumstances dictate. The more complex a case is, the longer opposing parties will take to come to an agreement, and the more care it deserves. For this reason, you should remain patient and trust the process.
Factors That Affect the Bicycle Claim Timeline
Though it is important to trust the process — and your bicycle accident attorney — it does not hurt to familiarize yourself with the factors that affect the claims process. By understanding these factors, you can help your lawyer identify and gather evidence that will bolster your case and avoid doing anything that may adversely affect it.
The Severity of Your Injuries
One of the factors that will have the greatest influence on your bicycle accident claim is the severity and permanency of your injuries. Any qualified personal injury lawyer will tell you not to settle your claim until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement. For you, MMI may mean a full and complete recovery, or it may mean the point at which your doctor determines your recovery has plateaued. Attorneys like their clients to have reached a point of MMI as, once they do, it becomes much easier to calculate past and future damages.
Another reason it is important to reach MMI before settling is that, once you settle a claim, you cannot reopen it. This is the case even if your injury grows worse over time, or if it triggers another condition. Before accepting an offer, you want to be sure that your condition has stabilized as much as it possibly can.
All that said, the severity of your injuries directly affects the claims process in that some injuries take longer to reach MMI than others. For example, if you break your wrist, your recovery time is likely to be between six and eight weeks. If you break a larger bone, such as a tibia, the recovery time can be as long as 20 weeks. If you break your neck, the break may heal quickly, but the consequences can be lifelong. It may take your doctors several years to determine to what extent, exactly, a neck break can have on your life.
The Strength of Your Evidence
Another factor that influences the speed with which your case settles is the strength of your evidence. Oftentimes, bicycle accident claims are a game of he-said-she-said between the driver and the biker. Without sufficient evidence, one or both parties may drag on the legal battle longer than necessary in an attempt to get the other to back down.
If you have strong evidence, you can avoid the blame game and get straight to the valuation process. For instance, there is little arguing with video footage of the at-fault driver running a red light while you were crossing the intersection during your right of way. There is also little arguing with several eyewitness accounts of the same event. The more irrefutable evidence you have, the fewer grounds the opposition has to argue with you.
In addition to evidence of the accident itself, it also helps to have substantial medical evidence. Ask your doctors to keep detailed accounts of your visits and the healing process, and request copies of records. Also, keep all medical bills, as these serve as hard proof of your economic losses.
Finally, make sure to document every day and hour you miss work because of your injury. If you have to take a half day for a doctor’s visit, document it. Keep paystubs, which, like medical bills, serve as hard evidence of your financial losses.
These are just examples of the types of evidence that can help strengthen your case. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can help you identify other forms of evidence and gather the documentation you need to secure the maximum amount of compensation quickly.
The Insurance Company’s Willingness to Cooperate
Though state laws dictate when insurance companies respond to claims, many drag their feet when it comes to investigating and settling more complex cases. If the opposition’s insurance company does not want to pay, it may become uncooperative, requiring you to jump through hoops and disputing your assertions in the hopes that you will just give up.
Your Willingness To Cooperate
The insurance company is not the only party that must cooperate in a bicycle accident claim. So, too, must you. Every time you fail to follow a doctor’s orders or meet an insurer’s deadline, you harm your case a little more. You must demonstrate that you are doing everything in your power to both heal and move through the claims process, which you can do by cooperating with everything every party of the claim asks of you in a timely fashion.
Whether Your Case Goes to Court
A final factor that majorly influences the speed with which your bicycle accident claim settles is whether your case goes to court. If you can settle outside of court, you can save years and thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Having to file a lawsuit adds years to any claim timeline and is something that most personal injury attorneys try to avoid.
A Skilled Bicycle Accident Lawyer Can Help Speed Up the Process
Too many accident victims make the mistake of accepting the first or second settlement offer the insurance company makes. They do so out of desperation, wanting to replace their lost income and other damages as quickly as possible. While accepting an initial settlement will certainly speed up your path to monetary recovery, it can hinder your physical one. For this main reason, any reputable personal injury attorney will urge you to hold off on participating in settlement discussions until you consult with a lawyer.
Though hiring a bicycle accident lawyer may take a bit of time up front, it can help to substantially speed up the claims process. An experienced attorney can help you meet the filing requirements quickly, gather the necessary evidence and negotiate with the insurer on your behalf while you focus on your recovery. Better yet, the right lawyer can identify sources of financial relief while your case pends.
If you want to secure the maximum amount of compensation as quickly as possible, consult with a bicycle accident lawyer right away. Schedule your free consultation with Mike Morse Law Firm today.