Why Is My Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?

An insurance adjuster examining the damage done to a car's headlights for the investigation.It’s fairly common for car accident victims to get anxious while waiting for word on their claims. In fact, the question “Why is my car accident settlement taking so long” is possibly one of the most frequent questions claimants ask their legal counsel.

While it’s an understandable query, the anxiety behind it comes from the fact the average person doesn’t have a good grasp of the settlement process. And without a grasp of the process, there is little context to compare one’s case against.

The good news, however, is that simple information is enough to ease this anxiety claimant’s experience. So let’s talk about car accident settlement timelines.

What Is the Average Time to Settle a Car Accident Claim?

While the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) doesn’t provide the average time to settle a car accident claim in reports, claimants can usually expect insurers to approve or deny submissions within thirty days of receiving the claim.

This thirty-day limitation is mandated upon insurance providers by the Utah Office of Administrative Rules (R590-190). Insurers are, however, given leeway to extend deadlines if claimants have not submitted all required information.

Suppose we assume that accident victims take up to two weeks to recover to full health before filing a claim (and lawyers will often recommend that claimants do so to maximize benefits). In that case, we can expect car accident claims to settle within four to six weeks after the accident.

That is, of course, assuming the process goes smoothly and does not end in a denial.

Common Factors Affecting Your Car Accident Settlement

Even if you can expect a thirty-day resolution for your settlement, delays can occur just as often as promptness can. The unique circumstances of each case are the result of the nearly limitless contexts of each car accident.

That said, there are several factors that can contribute to delays more often than others.

Complexity of Your Case

This is possibly the biggest contributing factor to delays when pursuing a car accident settlement. The more parties involved, the more conflicting accounts there are, and the more money is at stake, the harder an investigation tends to be.

Complexity tends to hinder progress in disputes and lawsuits more than it does claims made with insurance companies, as insurers are bound by aforementioned rules. But when confronting drivers and other parties involved in the accident, complexity is a problem.

No matter how complex cases may be, insurers are assumed to be professionals trained to deal with them in a reasonable time frame, thus the thirty-day limit. During a lawsuit, however, the insurance company does not move until all parties agree on who pays what.

Complex cases mean more meetings (and longer meetings) with each party’s representatives. Scheduling these meetings is also a problem when different people have conflicting schedules due to work or, in the case of injured victims, medical appointments.

Complexity also makes negotiations more difficult as the higher the amount of money on the line, the harder people will fight not to be held responsible.

Granted, Utah liability claims follow comparative fault, meaning responsibility is usually shared. But that will not stop people from wanting to be responsible for as little of the accident as possible.

Finally, the more available evidence there is, the shorter the investigation needs to be and the less complex the case is. But acquiring solid evidence also takes time, so a balance that has to be struck in this regard to avoid delays but also avoid missing out on substantial evidence.

Your Medical Treatment

Your injuries and, by extension, your medical treatment can play a role in delaying the claims process. While you might call your insurer as soon as any immediate medical concerns have been met, they might not be able to move forward until you’ve been billed for treatment.

This is because of the concept of maximum medical improvement (MMI). And while this still counts as a delaying factor, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

MMI is the point at which a person will no longer respond to any additional treatment. For legal purposes, this means a patient is “fully recovered,” at least to the extent that their body can heal.

Insurance companies stand to lose less money when you accept an offer before MMI. However, as businesses, insurance companies also want to retain a good public image and, therefore, may advise against progressing your claim until you get to MMI.

If waiting for your MMI takes too long, you may receive a denial within thirty days of the insurer receiving your claim, in accordance with R590. They may ask you to file again when all information, including expenses for prolonged treatment, is available.

On the other hand, even if the insurance company prioritizes its profit margin for the quarter and comes up with a quick response and offer before MMI, your own lawyer will advise you to wait and let things play out to maximize your claim.

They will do this even if you have to file again at a later date.

Either way, there will be a delay. But then, at least this specific delaying factor works to your advantage.

Documentation Issues

Some of the most common causes of delays are simple clerical errors and failures in documentation. These can range from misspelled words or incorrect dates on forms to mislabeled evidence submitted to the insurer.

These errors can be enough grounds for an insurance provider to decline your claim. If so, they will respond within two weeks, as legally required, and they may inform you of the errors that need correcting before they process your claim.

Some of these issues are not as egregious as others. For example, clerical errors are becoming less common in the modern day thanks to most insurers allowing clients to file their claims online (and thus have instant feedback on incorrectly entered information).

On the other hand, issues such as insufficient or poorly compiled evidence seem to be timeless and have been around since car insurance became popular in the 1900s. Practice and expertise in this field help to avoid delays caused by poor documentation.


This shares a close relationship with the problem of complexity. But even in simple cases, disagreements between parties can extend the amount of time between filing your claim and receiving a check by months.

Again, this is less of a problem when dealing with insurance companies as both your lawyer and their adjuster know the company has a time frame to stick to. Its effects are exacerbated mostly when filing a lawsuit against at-fault parties.

Every party involved in an accident has to meet at some point. The first problem arises when you consider that different parties have different schedules, which they have to make work for if a dispute is to be resolved.

In addition, no one wants to be left “holding the bag,” as it were, which in this case means shouldering the majority of fault. Even if liability claims in Utah deduct fault as a percentage of the total claim from the payout, people will fight not to be held liable when possible.


Insurance companies process multiple claims at the same time. Data provided by NAIC shows that in 2019 alone, car insurers in Utah incurred 116,890 bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury protection claims in total.

That does not include UM/UIM claims or non-automobile-related claims.

These numbers are massive and can result in backlog, no matter how large insurance companies are. Seasonal conditions such as weather hazards and tourist seasons also contribute to a backlog at different points throughout a single year.

Thankfully, backlogs are usually no excuse for extreme delays, though they may allow for reasonable ones. Unfortunately, they do encourage rapid – sometimes careless – investigation that devalues your potential compensation.

Having to contest lowballed offers caused by this trend also takes time.

What Can You Do to Speed Up Your Claim?

If you’re looking to spend as little time waiting for your insurance company to come to a conclusion (hopefully a positive one) regarding your compensation after a vehicular accident, there are several things you can do.

The following points of advice are largely considered best practices when pursuing any kind of claim, settlement, or even lawsuit to compensate you for injuries and damages. They help to not just expedite your payout, but also ensure that whatever offer you take is fair.

  • Know your policy: If you haven’t read through the fine details of your insurance policy yet, do so. You cannot prepare for an insurance claim if you do not know what it covers and up to what degree.
  • Prepare before filing: One of the best ways to avoid any delays is to have a thorough, well-documented, well-prepared, evidence-based case built up before filing your claim with the insurer. This includes gathering proof of your claim, planning a timeline and strategy to follow, and even things as simple as making sure you fill up forms correctly.
  • Follow up on your claim: Remember that insurance companies are required to reply to you within two weeks of receiving any communication from your end. It is entirely within your right to ask for updates regarding your insurance claim, so try to maintain open communication channels with them throughout the process.
  • Work with a legal professional: Personal injury lawyers are professionals trained to navigate the legal procedures involving accidents and insurance claims. As such, many of the delays previously discussed can be mitigated and, indeed, avoided by working with an experienced lawyer who knows how to address them.

Speed Up Your Car Accident Insurance Claim With Valley Law

If your settlement is taking longer than you would like, try seeking help from one of our personal injury attorneys at Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers. We offer free case evaluations to get you started on your journey to compensation, and we cater in both English and Spanish.

Attorney Brigham Richards leads the team with more than ten years of experience in personal injury law. His personal approach to clients allows Valley Law to better understand your needs and put them first, getting you the best possible outcome from your car accident settlement.

Call us today at 801-810-9999 or contact us through our online form found here. Our lawyers work on a contingency basis, so you risk nothing and only pay us when we win your case for you.

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