They say that time slows down during a car accident, and everything seems to be going in slow motion. But what about after? With adrenaline, injuries, and police reports, time can fly by. And later, dealing with insurance companies can make it feel like time is grinding to a stop.
This can make it hard to see that dealing with a car accident occurs on a long timeline, as opposed to isolated events. And while every accident is unique, most car accident cases follow a similar timeline.
The Accident Itself
Being in an accident can be a scary experience, jarring you out of your comfort zone at least, with possible injuries making it much worse. And the first steps you take after a car accident can be crucial to your injury case.
Immediately after an accident, you should stay at the scene. And if you're unhurt, you should check on the other drivers and passengers to make sure everyone is OK. You'll also want to report the accident to the police and your insurance company, which may include exchanging contact and insurance information with the other drivers. It may help to talk to witnesses while the accident is fresh in your mind, and write down everything that you can remember about the accident.
The Insurance Claim
A big part of the accident will be reporting it to your insurance company. You'll want to do that as soon after the accident as possible, as some insurance carriers require reporting within 24 hours to make a claim.
This report will begin an investigation into the accident, which could take weeks or months depending on the severity of the accident. After your insurance company completes their investigation, you should receive compensation for your injuries and financial loss. In the meantime, you should keep comprehensive records of all of your medical treatment and accident-related costs.
The Possible Litigation or Settlement
In some cases, it may be necessary to get lawyers involved. If your insurance company denies your claim, or if you're uninsured, or if another party sues you, you could be dragged into a lengthy legal process.
How long your accident case takes will depend on the accident and the disposition of the parties involved. Litigation or a trial could take months or years to complete, but you may be able to settle your case without going to court. An experienced injury attorney will be able to assess your car accident case and give you an idea of how long it will take to resolve.