Free Broken Car Stock Photo

Dealing with a car accident and its legal aftermath can derail your life with complex processes that few people are prepared for. While no one expects accidents to happen, understanding the timeline and key phases in the post-crash legal journey empowers you to take control amid the chaos. Whatever the situation is, working with an experienced car accident attorney can explain to you what to anticipate and ensure you take the necessary steps to protect your rights.

Notifying Your Insurance Company After the Car Accident

The first thing you’ll need to do after a car accident is to notify your auto insurance company, as well as the insurance company of the other driver(s) involved. This sets the legal process in motion. Most insurance companies require that you notify them within 24 hours of the accident occurring. When you call, provide as many details about the accident as you can. It is best to consult a car accident lawyer before speaking with your insurance company during this stage to understand your rights.

The Crash Investigation Stage

After notifying the insurance companies, the investigation stage will begin. Insurance adjusters will collect police reports, interview witnesses, take photographs, review medical records, and more. This is often the most time-consuming part of the process. According to, the average car accident claim investigation takes about 30 days. However, complicated cases with injuries, multiple cars, and other complex issues can take months to investigate.

Negotiating Your Car Accident Claim with Insurance Companies

Once the insurance companies have completed their investigations, they will determine if and how they will settle your claim. Approximately 95% of car accident claims settle through negotiations between attorneys, insurance companies, and the parties involved. If you have complex injuries or high medical bills, car accident lawyers recommend hiring an attorney to negotiate on your behalf, as they tend to yield higher settlements.

Going to Court

If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, the next step is filing a personal injury lawsuit. On average, it can take anywhere from several months to over a year for a car accident case to make it to trial. The COVID-19 pandemic has also created significant court backlogs, lengthening this timeline in many jurisdictions. If your case does go to trial, it could be another few months before a verdict is reached.

The Resolution of Your Car Accident Case

Whether through settlement or trial verdict, most standard car accident cases resolve within 1-2 years. However, it’s not uncommon for particularly complex cases with multiple parties, lots of property damage, serious injuries, or other factors to take 2+ years before ultimately reaching a resolution. Patience is key, as is working with an experienced car accident lawyer to help guide you through.

Key Takeaways of the Legal Process of a Car Crash

The legal process stemming from a car accident takes time. Key phases include notifying insurance companies, investigation, settlement negotiations between legal teams, and sometimes trial if negotiations fail. Consulting with a qualified car accident lawyer can streamline the process and help ensure your rights are protected each step of the way. With the right legal support, you can achieve a fair outcome.