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June 30, 2023

How Long Does it Take to Settle a Personal Injury Case in California?

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Short answer: California law states that an insurance company has to settle a personal injury claim within 85 days of the filing date in California.

This is broken down as follows:

  • 15 Days – The insurance company has 15 days to acknowledge the claim.
  • 40 Days – The insurance company has 40 days to make a decision on the claim.
  • 30 Days – The insurance company has 30 days to make the final payment if the claim is approved.

Even though this is the case, the time it takes to settle most personal injury cases varies. They can range from a few months to several years. This depends on several factors such as the complexity of the case, the extent of injuries, and the willingness of the parties involved to negotiate a settlement.

Quick Glance at Common Timelines of California Personal Injury Cases

  • Short timeline: 2 weeks – 3 months
  • Medium timeline: 3 months – 9 months
  • Long timeline: 1 or more years

One of the only ways to get an accurate timeline estimate is to consult with a qualified California personal injury attorney.

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What Will Make a Case Settle Faster?

Generally, when your personal injury case involves some of the aspects below, it can settle faster:

  • Minor injuries
  • Documentation of evidence
  • Insurance companies aren’t contesting liability
  • You are not the at fault party
  • You or an attorney are demanding a reasonable settlement

It’s important to note that personal injury settlements can be prolonged or unsuccessful if the insurance adjuster is pushing a low settlement offer.

This often occurs when an injured individual tries to handle the case alone, but having an experienced personal injury lawyer can often lead to fair negotiations with insurance adjusters.

Why Settling Quickly Isn’t Always a Good Thing

Obtaining a quick settlement for a personal injury case is rather easy, but it’s uncommon to receive a fast and fair settlement.

Insurance companies prefer quick settlements because they can offer you significantly less money. This tactic is a typical and manipulative move that is extremely common for insurance companies to utilize. If you want to receive the full amount you deserve, it’s rare to settle quickly.

Knowing this, there are rare instances where you can receive the full value of your case quickly, and it’s important to recognize these situations.

Fast settlements in personal injury cases can happen when values of cases exceed insurance policy limits of the person who caused injury.

For instance, if the person who harmed you has an insurance policy limit of $30,000, but your injuries are worth more than that, the insurance company might pay you the $30,000 extremely quickly. Since this is the maximum the insurance company will pay, accepting this type of personal injury settlement can be smart.

What Will Make a Case Take Longer?

Generally, when your personal injury case involves some of the aspects below, it can take longer to settle:

  • Factual or legal issues with your case
  • Your injuries are severe
  • You are not at a point of maximum medical improvement
  • The projected personal injury settlement could be large

Each injury case is unique. This list of potential factors prolonging a case is not exhaustive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Average Personal Injury Settlement in California?

According to 5 California law firms, the average personal injury settlement can be anywhere from $14,000 – $31,000. These numbers are much different than verdicts people can receive at personal injury trials.

According to Lawsuit Information Center, the average personal injury verdict is approximately $1,600,000 while the median is $150,000.

How are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out in California?

Insurance companies will issue settlement checks written with your name. Your personal injury lawyer will then review the check to make sure everything looks good.

Under California law, insurance companies must pay and issue checks immediately after each party agrees and accepts the final settlement.

Get in Touch With a Personal Injury Lawyer

LawLinq works with some of the best personal injury lawyers across the entire state of California. If you’d like to get a settlement estimate for your case, reach out to our office today. We’ll get you situated with an attorney who will fight for the maximum amount of compensation possible for your case.

About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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