If you’re in Oklahoma City and have been in a car accident, you might wonder how long it will take to settle your case. The truth is that every case is different, and several factors can affect the time it takes.
At Hasbrook & Hasbrook, our experienced personal injury attorney can see if you can file a personal injury lawsuit or car accident lawsuit to recover compensation for your medical expenses and missed income. At the same time, there are a lot of steps involved in the auto accident settlement process before you receive a fair settlement.
Learn more about car accident injuries below. Then, call us to schedule a free case consultation with our car accident lawyer to discuss your personal injury case.
- Understanding Car Accident Case Settlement in Oklahoma City
- Factors Affecting Case Duration
- Initial Stages of a Car Accident Case
- Settlement Negotiations
- Filing an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident in Oklahoma City
- Tips for Expediting the Process
- How Our Car Accident Attorney Can Help You With Your Case
- Discuss Your Legal Options With a Car Accident Attorney in Oklahoma City | Call Hasbrook & Hasbrook Today!
Understanding Car Accident Case Settlement in Oklahoma City
The process usually involves several stages regarding car accident cases in Oklahoma City. These include filing the claim, investigating the accident, negotiating settlements, and possibly going to trial. Each step takes a different amount of time, depending on the case’s complexity.
It’s important to know that Oklahoma follows an “at-fault” system for car accidents. This means the person who caused the accident is responsible for the damages. However, determining who is at fault can sometimes take time, affecting how long your case takes to settle. Sometimes, it might require a personal injury trial to recover indemnity for your personal injury claim.
Factors Affecting Case Duration
Several factors can influence how long car accident settlements take.
Severity of the Accident
The severity of the accident plays a significant role in the settlement timeline. Minor accidents with little damage might settle quickly. But if the accident was substantial, with lots of damage or injuries, it could take longer to settle. This is because severe accidents often need more investigation and negotiation.
The type and severity of injuries from the accident are crucial factors. Minor injuries that heal quickly might not delay the settlement process much. But serious injuries that need long-term treatment can extend the time it takes to settle.
Liability and Fault Determination
Determining who is at fault in the accident is a big part of settling a case. Sometimes it’s clear who caused the accident, and other times it’s not. If it’s unclear, there will be more investigation, which takes time.
In Oklahoma, the law allows for comparative negligence (Oklahoma Statutes Title 23. Damages § 23-13). This means that if you are partly at fault for the accident, it can reduce the amount of compensation you receive. Figuring out the level of fault for each party can be complex and time-consuming.
Insurance Company Cooperation
How the insurance companies involved cooperate can greatly affect the timeline. The process can move faster if the insurance companies are responsive and fair. But if they delay or dispute the claim, it can take much longer.
Having a good car accident attorney can make a big difference in how long your case takes to settle. Experienced attorneys know how to navigate the process efficiently. They can handle negotiations, gather evidence, and fight for fair compensation.
Complexity of the Case
The overall complexity of the case is a key factor. Simple cases with clear faults and minor injuries can settle quickly. However, complex cases with disputed fault, serious injuries, and high damages take longer.
Initial Stages of a Car Accident Case
The first stages of a car accident case lay the foundation for everything that follows. These stages include filing the claim and investigating the accident. Let’s look at what’s involved in each of these stages.
Filing the Claim
- Documentation Required
When you file a car accident claim, you need several documents. These include the police report, medical records, and proof of damages. You also need evidence of lost wages if the accident made you miss work. Gathering all these documents can take time, but they’re crucial for supporting your claim.
- Timelines Involved
Oklahoma has a statute of limitations for car accident claims (Oklahoma Statutes Title 12. Civil Procedure § 12-95). You have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. It’s important to start the claim process as soon as possible to ensure you meet this deadline. Also, the sooner you file, the sooner the settlement process can start.
- Gathering Evidence
Investigating a car accident involves gathering lots of evidence. This includes photos from the scene, witness statements, and any video footage. Sometimes, you might need to hire an accident reconstruction expert. This evidence helps build a strong case and can influence how long the settlement process takes.
- Determining Liability
Determining who is at fault is a crucial part of the investigation. This involves looking at all the evidence and sometimes getting expert opinions. The process can move faster if it’s clear who caused the accident. But if the fault is disputed, it can take longer to settle the case.
After the initial stages, the case moves into settlement negotiations. This is where your attorney and the insurance company try to agree on a fair compensation amount.
- Demand Letters
Usually, a demand letter gets sent to the insurance company. This letter outlines your injuries, damages, and the compensation you’re asking for. The insurance company will then respond, either agreeing to the amount or making a counteroffer.
Counteroffers are common in settlement negotiations. The insurance company might offer less than you asked for in your demand letter. Your attorney will then negotiate, trying to get a higher amount. This back-and-forth can take time, but it’s important for getting fair compensation.
Filing a Lawsuit
- Reasons for Litigation
Sometimes, settlement negotiations don’t lead to a fair offer. In these cases, your attorney might advise filing a lawsuit. This happens when the insurance company denies the claim or offers too little. Going to court can take more time, but it might be necessary to get fair compensation.
- Impact on the Timeline
Filing a lawsuit extends the timeline of your case. The court process involves several more steps, like discovery and possibly a trial. All of these steps take time, so it’s important to be prepared for a longer process if you go this route.
- Exchange of Information
The discovery process is when both sides share information about the case. This includes sharing documents, evidence, and expert reports. Discovery helps each side understand the other’s case, which can be important for negotiations or trials.
Depositions are another part of the discovery process. They involve taking sworn statements from witnesses and parties involved in the accident. Depositions are important for gathering information, but they can take time to schedule and conduct.
Mediation and Arbitration
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods
Mediation and arbitration are ways to settle a case without going to trial. In mediation, a neutral third party helps all parties try to reach an agreement. In arbitration, the arbitrator listens to all sides of the story and then makes a binding decision.
- Pros and Cons
These methods can be quicker and less costly than going to trial. But they also have some downsides. In arbitration, you give up the right to have a jury decide your case. And in both methods, you might end up with less compensation than you could get in court.
- Trial Dates and Scheduling
Once a trial date is set, there’s a lot of preparation to do. Your attorney will prepare arguments, gather evidence, and get ready to present your case. Court schedules can be busy, so getting a trial date might take some time.
- Preparing Witnesses and Evidence
Preparing witnesses and evidence is crucial for trial. Your attorney will work with witnesses to make sure they’re ready to testify. They’ll also organize all the evidence to present your case clearly and effectively.
- Courtroom Procedures
Understanding courtroom procedures is essential. Your attorney will handle most of this, but knowing what to expect is good. The trial will involve opening statements, presenting evidence, and closing arguments.
- Presentation of the Case
How your case is presented in court is crucial. Your attorney will introduce evidence, call witnesses, and argue your side. The objective is to convince the judge or jury that you have a right to compensation for your damages.
Jury Verdict and Post-Trial Motions
- Potential Outcomes
After the trial, the jury (or judge in a bench trial) will decide the outcome. They’ll determine if the other party is at fault and how much compensation you should get. The decision can vary greatly, depending on the evidence and how the case is presented.
- Further Legal Actions
Even after a verdict, there can be further legal actions. Either side can file motions challenging the verdict or asking for a new trial. These post-trial motions can extend the timeline even further.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident in Oklahoma City
Reporting the Accident to Your Insurance Company
It’s important to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. This starts the claim process and gets things moving. Be honest and provide all the details they ask for, but be careful not to admit fault.
Understanding Oklahoma’s “At-Fault” Insurance System
Oklahoma’s at-fault system means the person who caused the accident pays for the damages. However, determining fault can be complex. It’s important to understand this system and how it affects your claim.
Dealing With the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Dealing with the other driver’s insurance company can be tricky. They might try to deny the claim or offer less than you deserve. It’s often best to let your attorney handle these interactions to ensure you get fair treatment.
Tips for Expediting the Process
Cooperating With Your Attorney
Working closely with your attorney can help speed up the process. Provide them with all the information and documents they need. Respond to their requests promptly and follow their advice.
Being Organized With Documentation
Keeping all your documents organized is important. This includes medical records, repair bills, and any correspondence about the accident. Being organized helps your attorney build your case more efficiently.
Communicating Effectively With All Parties
Good communication is key. Keep in touch with your attorney and respond promptly to any requests from the insurance companies. Clear and timely communication can help avoid delays.
Consideration of Settlement Offers
Carefully consider any settlement offers. Your attorney can advise you on whether an offer is fair. Sometimes, accepting a lower offer can be a good choice if it means avoiding a long trial.
Finally, staying patient is important. The process can be long and frustrating at times. On the other hand, being patient and letting the process play out is often necessary to get the best outcome.
How Our Car Accident Attorney Can Help You With Your Case
- Expert Guidance: We are well-versed in the ins and outs of Oklahoma’s car accident laws. We can guide you through every step of the process and help you make informed decisions.
- Negotiation Skills: Our attorneys are skilled negotiators. We’ll fight to get you fair compensation through settlement negotiations or in court.
- Evidence Gathering: We’ll gather all the necessary evidence to build a strong case for you. This includes accident reports, medical records, and witness statements.
- Dealing with Insurance Companies: We know how to handle insurance companies. We’ll deal with them on your behalf and push back against any unfair tactics.
- Courtroom Experience: If your case goes to trial, you want experienced attorneys by your side. We have the courtroom experience to present your case effectively and fight for your rights.
In the end, our attorneys can make the process smoother and improve your chances of getting fair compensation.
Discuss Your Legal Options With a Car Accident Attorney in Oklahoma City | Call Hasbrook & Hasbrook Today!
If you’ve been in a car accident in Oklahoma City, knowing your legal options is crucial. The process of settling a car accident case can be complex and time-consuming. But you don’t have to navigate it alone.
Our experienced car accident attorneys at Hasbrook & Hasbrook are here to help. Call us today, and let us help you get on the path to recovery.