Partner at Charbonnet Law Firm LLC

Practice Areas: Personal Injury Claims

When a negligent driver severely injures you in an accident, you don’t immediately think about your car insurance settlement. You focus on emergency treatment, follow-up care, and medication. You think about your temporary impairments and your inability to work. When you finally begin to heal, you start wondering how long it takes to get compensation from a car insurance settlement.

Settlement timing is particularly crucial when you’re juggling ongoing medical costs, uninsured doctor bills, and unpaid household expenses. As you deal with these and other accident-related financial losses, you realize that a settlement can change your situation. You know that the responsible party should pay for your damages, but you have no idea how long a settlement takes.

Settlement Timing Depends on You

There is no set guideline that determines when it’s time to settle a claim. As each injury and each injured person is unique, you and your personal circumstances are the most important considerations. Your injuries, inability to work, temporary and permanent disabilities, and accident-related costs are just a few of the factors that determine how much compensation you receive. Your recovery, any legal deadlines, the liability insurer’s stance, and your willingness to settle are all factors that influence insurance settlement timing.

Your injury claim becomes more manageable when you have a personal injury attorney representing your interests. Attorneys understand legal and liability issues. They communicate with you, monitor your recovery progress, track deadlines, and determine the optimum time to begin settlement negotiations. When you’re working directly with a liability insurer, you take responsibility for proving and settling your claim. Before you approach an insurer about negotiating a settlement, you should ask yourself a few key questions.

Are you ready to settle?

If you’re like many injured people, you prefer to delay your settlement until you’re healed and your life is somewhat back to normal. That can work if you sustained minor injuries. You could be ready to settle a few months after your accident or even in a few weeks. If you’re dealing with serious injuries and contemplating a long-term recovery, you have many other issues to think about. Before you think about settling, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney to review your legal options.

What is the legal deadline to make your claim?

When you’re injured in a car accident, you’ll probably want to postpone your settlement until you reach optimum recovery. You need to heal before you fully understand how your injuries will affect the rest of your life. When your injury occurs in Louisiana, you don’t always have the option to wait until you’re completely recovered. You have a one-year deadline by which you must take legal action to preserve your right to make a claim.

Louisiana Civil Code, CC, Art. 3492, Liberative Prescription sets a one-year deadline to take action against the person who injured you. If you overlook that date or simply fail to act, you lose your right to recover your damages. When you file a lawsuit before the one-year date, you preserve your right to make a claim.  The legal process usually gives you a time cushion that allows you more time to heal.

What’s the liability insurance carrier’s position?

If you anticipate settling your claim, you should understand the insurance company’s position on liability. Insurance carriers conduct investigations soon after an accident occurs. They usually decide early-on whether to settle your claim or deny liability. If time is passing, and they haven’t informed you of their position on paying your claim, you probably won’t have time to exchange phone messages and make email inquiries. You should consult with an attorney to discuss whether to take immediate legal action.

Does the responsible driver have liability insurance?

If the other driver didn’t have liability insurance when the accident occurred, that’s another reason why you might not have heard from his insurance company. Although liability insurance is mandatory in Louisiana, some drivers don’t comply. This sometimes occurs when an insurer cancels a policy or declines coverage. Under either of those circumstances, the insurer doesn’t have a duty to pay your claim.

Do you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage on your auto policy?

If you determine that the other party doesn’t have liability insurance, you may have the right to make a claim against your own insurer. When you have Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist Coverage on your policy, your insurer handles your injury claim as though they were the other driver’s liability carrier.  Louisiana Revised Statutes, R.S 22, §1295, Uninsured Motorist Coverage, requires that all insurance companies include UM and UIM coverage on their policies. The coverage doesn’t apply if you chose to reject it.

 Do You Know How Much Your Claim is Worth?

You can speed up the settlement process if you negotiate your own claim. Unfortunately, if you resolve your claim without legal assistance, you’ll never know if you received a fair amount. Without proper research, it’s difficult for even an experienced professional to determine the true value of your claim.

Insurance companies understand that most people have limited knowledge about injury values. They often rely on an injured person’s trust and desire for a quick settlement as negotiation advantages. When given an opportunity to settle a claim directly with an injured person, insurers will sometimes make an unreasonably low offer. If you accept it, they have you sign a release, pay your claim, and close their claim file.

Have you made a demand?

If the liability insurance company hasn’t made an offer, it could be because they’re waiting for you to make a demand. If that sounds a lot like a game, sometimes it is. Some insurers still play old-fashioned negotiation games. They wait for the injured person to make a settlement demand, then they counter with a lower offer.

The demand/counteroffer strategy is an easy way for an insurer to determine your settlement range. It prevents them from making a higher offer because they know you’re willing to accept a much lower figure. If you don’t make a demand, the insurer might close their claim file until they hear from you. If they don’t hear from you before your filing deadline, they avoid paying your claim completely.

Have you received a settlement offer?

Some busy claim representatives take a more proactive settlement approach. When they decide it’s time to settle your claim, they surprise you with an offer. They know your financial situation and take a chance that you will be receptive to settlement on their terms. They know that an offer forces you to consider a settlement, even when you’re not ready. They also know that if you were thinking about consulting with an attorney, an offer is a “bird in the hand” that can convince you to change your mind.

Have you consulted with an attorney?

When you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident, you’ll find they have the answers to your most pressing questions. Attorneys take care of the legal details while you focus on healing. They investigate your case to determine the liability issues, and they evaluate your injuries. Attorneys interact with liability insurers on your behalf. They present your claim and negotiate a fair settlement. When necessary, attorneys will file a lawsuit to resolve liability and damage issues and protect your right to make a claim.

New Orleans Personal Injury Lawyers

When you’re injured in an auto accident, contact Charbonnet Law Firm as soon as possible. Our personal injury attorneys have served clients throughout Louisiana, and we’ve recovered millions on their behalf. When you call us, we protect your legal interests, and we do whatever is necessary to provide the best results possible.

To schedule a complimentary consultation, give us a call at (504) 294-5094 or visit our Contact Page. You can complete our Contact Form or have a Live Chat with a legal professional.


With over 50 years of legal experience serving families in the New Orleans area and surrounding Louisiana communities, our firm takes pride in providing clients with personalized legal services tailored to individual needs.

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