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Car Accident

If you were recently injured in a car accident, you probably have medical bills stacking up and may not be able to return to work just yet. You may ask yourself, How long does a car accident settlement take?

The truth is that NC car accident settlements can take anywhere from just a few weeks to several months or even years, depending on the circumstances. No two cases are alike, but understanding what factors influence a car accident settlement timeline can better set you up for success.

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?

The time it takes to get a car accident settlement can vary. However, a general rule of thumb is that the more severe the accident, the longer the claim can take.

North Carolina Car Accident Settlements 

While there are instances in which accepting a quick settlement might be favorable, you should not generally rush a car accident settlement. Insurance companies want you to resolve your claim quickly to avoid paying more.

They will often offer you an enticing but low offer soon after your accident to avoid paying more money later. Don’t fall for a quick and easy check. Most of the time, you are leaving substantial money on the table. 

Understandably, as a car wreck victim with bills piling up, you want to see your case settle quickly. However, remember that the insurance adjuster is not on your side (even if they are with your own insurance company). Having an experienced lawyer guide you is critical to receiving the compensation you deserve. 

Factors Influencing How Long a Car Accident Settlement Can Take

No two car accidents are alike, and as such, no two car accident claims are alike. However, insurance companies and courts consider several factors when determining fair compensation for car accident claims. 

Medical Treatment

One of the most substantial factors influencing your claim settlement is the nature and extent of your injuries and the necessary medical treatment. If you only suffer minor injuries requiring a one-time trip to the local emergency room, your claim might resolve relatively quickly.

However, the claim can be much more complex if you need extensive surgery and inpatient hospital stays. Before you can settle your claim, you want to ensure you have reached maximum medical improvement. In other words, it’s essential to make sure you have physically reached the most improvement you can before settling your claim.

This will not always be 100%. Sometimes, car accident victims do not make a full recovery but only improve by 50% or 75%.  It is important to consider this when discussing a settlement. Waiting until you have reached maximum recovery might mean you must wait longer for compensation, but you will likely receive much more in the end. 


Sometimes, the liable party is obvious, but other times, it is much more complicated. If it is clear from the start who is liable for the accident, your claim may settle quicker. However, if fault and liability are not immediately apparent, it could take time to investigate before settling.

It is not always bad for an inquiry to take time, especially in a contributory negligence state like North Carolina. Here, if you are found to have contributed at all to your injury, you may not be able to recover any compensation. It, therefore, may be in your best interest to thoroughly investigate the claim.  

The Insurer

While all insurance companies must operate within state law, individual companies may have their own internal unique rules and procedures for handling claims. These differences could affect how long your settlement takes. 

Pre-litigation vs. Litigation

Should your claim not settle and you file a civil lawsuit with the court, you can expect your settlement to take significantly longer. Lawsuits typically proceed slowly due to the involvement of the court, rules, procedures, and general litigation practices.

No matter what, the best way to ensure you receive a speedy yet fair settlement is to consult an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer.

How Can an Attorney Help My Car Accident Claim?

A seasoned car accident attorney can help speed up your claim and get you the money you deserve. These claims can quickly become overwhelming to manage on your own. 

A knowledgeable attorney knows the necessary steps to take to:

  • Negotiate with the insurance company,
  • Conduct a thorough investigation, and
  • Request and review discovery.

Should your claim not settle outside of court, we strongly recommend having an attorney to ensure you meet filing deadlines, adhere to court rules and procedures, file appropriate motions, and litigate the case. Remember, lawyers know the law and deal with the justice system daily. They can help get you the best possible outcome. 

Why Is My Settlement Check Taking So Long?

Suppose you settle your case but find yourself waiting for what feels like forever to receive your compensation. By the time you sign a settlement agreement, you may already feel frustrated with the overall process and want to move on with your life.

However, it can take approximately 60 days from the date the settlement agreement is executed by all parties to receive your check. If your claim is especially complex, it can take even longer. If you agree to annuity payments rather than one lump sum, you may experience a different timeline.

If you are worried your settlement is taking too long, your attorney can contact the insurance company to determine your payment status. 

North Carolina Car Accident Settlement Attorneys

At Mehta & McConnell, we have 30 years of combined experience advocating for those injured by someone else’s negligence. If you are frustrated by the car accident claims process, we are here to help. Contact us to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation today.

Author Photo

Jason McConnell

Jason McConnell is the managing attorney of Mehta & McConnell Injury Lawyers, a Charlotte, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm. In his free time he enjoys playing golf, cooking, traveling and following the UNC Tar Heels and Carolina Panthers.

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