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How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement Check From a Car Accident?

April 10, 2023

A car accident isn’t just devastating to your physical health and emotional well-being, but it can also be devastating to a bank account. When you’ve sustained significant or even grave injuries as well as property damage, the bills may pile up while paychecks stop coming in due to the time it takes for you to heal and recover. The financial impacts may be far-reaching and affect the whole family. That’s why one of the first questions after the dust settles in the aftermath of a car accident in Washington is, “When will I get a settlement check?”

How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement Check From a Car Accident?

Understanding Washington’s Pure Comparative Negligence Laws

In some states, including Florida, no-fault insurance laws mean every accident victim files a claim with their own insurance. This type of insurance law makes claims processing much faster, but also includes significant limits. In Washington, it matters who caused an accident or the percentage that each party involved contributed to the accident.

Before any of the insurance providers will consider a settlement, they must investigate the accident to determine fault or the percentage of fault each involved driver bears. If you were found to have contributed to the accident in any way—for example, if the other driver ran a red light but you were found to have been speeding—you might be assigned 25% of fault in the accident, reducing a $100,000 claim to a settlement of $70,000.

Insurance companies never relish writing out a check, so they commonly try to minimize the amount they pay out by using this system to assign the greatest possible percentage of fault against the claimant.

Investigating fault and negotiating with insurance companies may take time and cause a delay in an accident victim’s compensation. Fortunately, Washington places a 45-day limit on the amount of time for insurance companies to settle a claim as well as structured time frames for the processes leading up to a settlement.

Understanding the Insurance Settlement Timeline After an Accident in Washington

While complex accidents may take the full 45 days to settle as investigations take place to determine each party’s percentage of fault, the basic timeline for the insurance claim process allows a specific amount of time for each step in the process once an injured victim files a claim:

  • Washington allows up to 10 working days for an insurance company to acknowledge that they’ve received the claim and to send out responding paperwork such as proof-of-loss forms
  • After receiving back the completed forms, insurance companies have up to 15 working days to make a decision on the amount of the claim
  • Once approved, the insurance provider has up to 20 working days to issue payment

While this timeline is in place in Washington, the frequent back-and-forth negotiations involved in large, complex accident claims can be time-consuming. While the state allows only 20 days to issue payment after approval of the claim, the fact that this time constraint doesn’t begin until all parties approve the amount means that it could take a month or more to settle depending on the circumstances of the accident and the victim’s determination to recover full compensation for all of their damages.

Having a skilled Seattle car accident attorney to investigate the accident, prove liability, and aggressively defend your interests throughout the process can help expedite your settlement.

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