2024 How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim in California?

Settling a car accident claim in California can be a complex and time-consuming process. If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may be asking yourself, “How long does it take to settle a car accident claim in California?” The answer is, unfortunately, not always straightforward. The timeline can vary significantly, as it depends on various factors, including the severity of the accident, how complicated the case is, and whether all parties are willing to negotiate.

Understanding the Settlement Process

The stages of settling a car accident claim have the following steps, each of which may or may not extend the timeline in some way.

  • Preliminary Investigation: Both parties usually conduct an investigation immediately following the accident. They use this to gather evidence related to the facts of the case, such as police reports, witness statements, and medical records. This process could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how straightforward the accident is and the availability of the information.
  • Medical Treatment: Once the injured party has reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the point at which they have recovered as much as they are likely to, then a settlement may be reached.
  • Claim: After the injured party has reached MMI, their car accident attorney can file the claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. It can take a few weeks for the at-fault party to review the claim.

The Average Settlement

The average car accident settlement amount in California changes drastically depending on the details of each case. What you can expect to be paid significantly depends on:

  • The type and severity of the injuries
  • The amount of property damage involved
  • The amount of lost wages
  • The degree of any pain and suffering

On average, car accident settlements can be as little as a few thousand dollars, but it can also be much greater for very serious injuries.

Car Accident Settlement Timeline

It can be hard to predict how long it will take to settle a car accident claim in California. Clear-cut cases without ambiguous liability and minor injuries could settle in less than a year. Conversely, more complicated claims, with catastrophic injuries or serious bodily damage, disputed liability, or even multiple parties, generally take much longer.

All the steps involved in the process can affect the amount of time it takes to compensate a case, from investigating the accident to negotiating a settlement and, eventually, going to trial if needed.

The Statute of Limitations’ Impact on the Settlement Timeline

According to the state’s statutes of limitations, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a personal injury action against an at-fault party. If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, you could jeopardize your ability to recover compensation. Starting the claims process early can ensure that you have sufficient time to investigate the accident, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurers, all of which increase your chances of settling your Los Angeles car accident claim.

It’s important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. An attorney can make sure that all legal deadlines are met and assist you in protecting your rights.

Insurance Company Claims

In California, insurance companies are required to adhere to a state-mandated 85-day maximum timeline when processing claims. Per the California Department of Insurance’s “Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations,” insurance companies must acknowledge the receipt of a claim within 15 days. Their following investigation involves gathering evidence, reviewing medical records, and assessing all damages.

The insurance company must accept or deny the claim within 40 days of receiving proof of the claim. If the claim is approved, the insurance company must issue a payment for the settlement within 30 days. These timelines can only be extended if the insurer requires additional information or if the parties are engaged in ongoing negotiations.


Q: What Types of Compensation Can I Receive From a Car Accident Claim in California?

A: In California, you can receive various types of compensation from a car accident claim. These include:

  • Medical expenses (current and future)
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering compensation
  • Loss of consortium, which compensates for the injury’s impact on your relationship with your spouse or partner

Consulting a personal injury attorney can help ensure that you receive all the compensation you’re entitled to.

Q: How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take in California?

A: Predicting how long it will take to settle a car accident claim in California is challenging. Clear-cut cases with minor injuries may settle within a year, while complex claims involving severe injuries, disputed liability, or multiple parties typically take much longer. Each step, from investigation to negotiation to a potential trial, affects the timeline.

Q: How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim in California?

A: In California, insurance companies have a maximum of 85 days to process claims, following the “Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations.” They must acknowledge receipt within 15 days, accept or deny the claim within 40 days, and pay the settlement within 30 days if it is approved. Extensions are allowed for acquiring additional information or engaging in ongoing negotiations.

Q: Who Determines Fault in an Auto Accident in California?

A: Insurance companies initially determine fault in an auto accident in California. An investigation is done to determine who caused the accident and what percentage of fault each party will receive. An insurance company will examine police reports, witnesses’ statements, and the available physical evidence at the scene of the accident. In California, fault can be shared between the parties.

A personal injury claim can challenge this assessment. If it goes to court, a judge or jury will make the final determination of fault. Any compensation that is awarded will be based on the percentage of fault that each party is given.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney at Corrales Law Group

Hiring a personal injury attorney is crucial for navigating the complexities of a car accident claim. An attorney from Corrales Law Group can provide valuable guidance, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages. Without legal representation, you may be at a disadvantage when dealing with insurance adjusters who aim to minimize payouts. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact our office for a consultation.

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